When Lara Croft Go first launched, I was quietly impressed with the majority of it. It was a fun mobile game that pushed Lara Croft into the world of mobile gaming kicking and screaming, and provided some intriguing puzzles to solve whilst chilling out on public transport. However, my two main complaints were that it was just a little too easy and also a little too short. Well, Square Enix listened to my requests for harder Lara (ok, not just my requests, but those of many others as well) and released free DLC called “The Shard of Life”.
First of all, let me repeat that word again – free. Whilst I was happy spending $7 on the core game, I’m even happier to know that this DLC is provided for no charge instead of requiring me to drop another few dollars on it. Not that I wouldn’t have been happy to pay for this expansion – it’s great – I’m just happier to know that I received it for free. Hints for levels are still available to purchase, and for the first time I’ve actually hovered over that ‘purchase hint’ button for a period of time after being unable to solve a level.
From the get-go, “The Shard of Life” is tough. Whilst I’m not a puzzle genius, I like to think that I’m able to solve most puzzles. Here though, I was countlessly met with Lara’s death by boulders, snakes, and spiders due to my inability to solve a puzzle. Where repetitive death would usually be cause for concern, it was a welcome addition here. This is mostly because of the joy you get when you do solve a puzzle – it’s supremely rewarding, whilst still managing to maintain the relaxing nature of the core game.
The challenge this time round is increased by providing more complex puzzles complete with creatures that don’t die. When I first encountered a golden spider, I wasn’t entirely sure what to do. I shot it, and then, with each move I took, the creature gradually regained form. Unfortunately, when it did regain form, it was when I moved right next to it and it pounced on me, thus providing me with Lara’s first death for this DLC. Where the core game had you juggling the movement of some creatures to trigger pressure pads in order to cause a boulder to move, “The Shard of Life” throws multiple creatures at you and even more pressure pads. Timing is key, and thanks to the great controls here, it’s never difficult to navigate through this world.
The other major complaint I had with the original game was that it was simply too short. I completed it in about two hours – and whilst I thoroughly enjoyed those two hours, I finished it wanting more. “The Shard of Life” consists of 26 puzzles, bringing the base total of 75 puzzles up to 101 in total. But don’t let the fact that there are only 26 puzzles in this expansion make you think it’ll be a pushover. Quite the opposite in fact, as I found myself working on a few puzzles and leaving them for a day or two to come back and try out a different approach. For me, these extra levels provided the challenge that I was seeking with the original game.
The base game is still the same visual beauty that it originally was, with soothing music and audio effects working together to help create the mood of the game. Lara Croft Go was a ‘should play’ game for mobile gaming enthusiasts, but with this expansion I’d gladly elevate it up to a ‘must play’ for anyone with a phone or tablet (which really is everyone, so go install it on your grandma’s phone, she’ll thank you later). I’ve really appreciated the solid gaming experience that Square Enix have created and perfected here, and I’ve loved being able to play as one of games greatest heroines on the go.