The incestuous nature of the games industry means that concepts tend to become popular, leading to the release of multiple games based on a similar theme. We’re going into a space game renaissance, for instance, thanks to games like Elite: Dangerous, Halo 5: Guardians, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, and the only-tenuously-a-game Star Citizen; chances are we’ve got the new Star Wars films to thank for that. Dinosaurs had their day in the sun for a bit as well thanks to prehistoric fare like Ark: Survival Evolved, but I digress.
The most recent of these themes to be milked dry, though, was the zombie game. Resident Evil 4 was popular, Dead Rising was popular and things just spiraled out of control from there for a few years. Naturally, unrelated franchises have to get in on this as well – remember Yakuza: Dead Souls? Anyway, just as Lara Croft hops into minecarts, she’s going to hop onto the bandwagon with Cold Darkness Awakened, a bit of zombie-themed DLC for Lara Croft’s previously undead-free Rise of the Tomb Raider.
Cold Darkness Awakened takes the Tomb Raider concept and slaps some zombies on top of it. Really, what’s not better with zombies? I know I’d play a lot more Cooking Mama if zombies were involved. Anyway, apparently there’s a bioweapon being stored in an old Soviet compound; this does exactly what you think it does. Since it primarily affects men, it’s up to Lara to figure out how to keep the stuff contained, since a zombie apocalypse would certainly hurt her plans as an archaeologist/action heroine.
The zombies are fairly standard fare for 2016; they’re mostly slow, sometimes fast and generally deadly. Lara’s best off using stealth to keep ahead of the undead hordes. You’ve got the odd side job to work on here and there, typically involving finding new guns, but this doesn’t really do much for you. As we’ve come to expect, a single zombie isn’t much of a threat, especially given that Lara is surprisingly deadly with guns and bows in the modern Tomb Raider titles. Still, irritating a whole bunch of zeds can lead to your death and remains something to be avoided.
Actually accomplishing your goal is done by entering the various production areas where the bioweapon is being produced and shutting them down. you’ll be assisted by Lara’s friend Nadia for these segments, which are reminiscent of the indie darling Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes. She’s got the manual, you’ve got a body physically at the site, so you’re going to have to follow what she says or risk setting off alarms that draw in even more zombies.
As always, Rise of the Tomb Raider looks fantastic on PC. It wasn’t a slouch on the Xbox One, but here the game truly shines and Cold Darkness Awakened is no exception. This is largely due to the environments moreso than the zombies, really; they’re not bad-looking zombies, but the age of the undead is (hopefully) coming to an end and zombies just aren’t all that scary anymore.
Cold Darkness Awakened is a fairly short experience that might run you a few hours at most. For $10 that’s reasonable, though, especially if you ant to spend more time in the world of Rise of the Tomb Raider. You get a new outfit, a few new guns to play with and the whole zombie thing as well. If you’re into the idea of a little more Tomb Raider adventure or you’re somehow hurting for zombie-related video gaming (How?!), Cold Darkness Awakened might be worth rising from your grave to check out.