Lara Croft Go is the latest foray into the world of tombs that are raided by one of gaming’s greatest heroines. Here, Lara Croft makes a move to mobile gaming, with a very calm and clean puzzler from the minds of Hitman Go. I’m not entirely sure where Lara Croft is actually going in this game, but she’s certainly doing it in a stylish fashion.
This is Lara Croft’s first mobile outing, so you can finally take her on the bus with you and say, “no, this seats taken, I’m riding with Lara.” Unfortunately, Lara won’t be riding on many buses with you, however, as this is a very short and very simple little game. All in all, I managed to complete the short levels in about six bus rides – or, two hours, for the time purists among us. Fortunately, the calm music and smooth visuals help make for a great unwind after a day of work – almost like a Lara Croft version of Monument Valley.
Playing in a landscape view, you help Lara navigate through levels and deal with things that only Lara deals with best – tombs full of puzzles and odd-looking beasties. As expected with a mobile game, controls are nice and simple and very intuitive. To move Lara, you simply swipe anywhere on the screen in the direction that you want her to move. Each level has Lara moving over diamond-shaped spaces, each acting like a square on a game board. Each move she makes also moves those odd-looking beasties one position, or a door move one inch closer to closing.
Part of the wonderful strategy within Lara Croft Go is that navigation through levels is all about making the best path through to the glowing symbol at the end. It’s this simple navigation that drives the core puzzle elements. Certain enemies will follow Lara around the map, whilst others may move in a straight pattern back and forth. It’s up to you to try and find the right path through a level that allows you to creep up behind enemies and blast them away with your signature dual-wielded guns. Move in the direction of an enemy looking at you and they’ll pounce on you and tear you apart. Alternatively, you may need to trick an enemy into following you to get them to trigger a pressure plate so you can progress forward.
Other environmental elements that increase puzzle difficulty include the aforementioned pressure plates, as well as partially broken floor plates that break open after passing over them twice, which closes off that path – and my personal favourite, the giant boulder that incrementally creeps forward with each move. This giant boulder is a nice little homage to Indiana Jones, a character who Lara Croft is obviously indebted to for her existence. The incremental difficulty of these environmental elements slowly ramps up as the levels progress, but never becomes so difficult that levels are impossible to complete.
In fact, my one main complaint about the otherwise very good Lara Croft Go is that it’s possibly just a little too easy. As I played through the five different “books” of levels, I had hoped that there would be a gradual rise in difficulty, with the latter levels being exceptionally challenging. As it is, the difficulty does rise, but it’s mostly in the sense that a level will take you a minute to figure out how to reach the end rather than thirty seconds. I died only a few times, and to be honest, most of those times were simply so I could get a screenshot of Lara dying for this review.
Besides screenshotting Lara dying, I also took a lot more screenshots than I usually would for a mobile game simply because it’s so darn good looking. As mentioned, the simple Monument Valley-esque design is pleasing to look at. The beautiful pastel colours and great enemy designs make me wish that I could play a version of this on a larger screen. As it is, it looks superb on my Samsung Galaxy Note 3. The peaceful, soothing music compliments the visuals perfectly.
Just like in other Tomb Raider games, there is a plethora of relics that can be collected in each level. These are mostly hidden around the level, revealing their location as a small glint of gold from behind a rock, just waiting to be tapped to be collected. Collect enough of these treasures and a new costume will be unlocked for Lara to wear. This is really the only reason to replay levels, even though the majority of the treasures can be collected on the first time round, as they are quite easy to find given the small amount of real estate on screen.
If, for some reason, you happen to get stuck, you can of course purchase hints for a nominal fee. As the game is never difficult enough to leave yourself scratching your head for an extended period of time (which would make you look like a complete idiot on the bus), there is no reason to expend your hard earned dollars on hints. If you feel that you must throw more money at this game though, you can also purchase other costumes that aren’t unlocked through normal gameplay. As far as I understand, these costumes don’t change the gameplay at all, they just simply make Lara look a little more fashionable.
As Ms. Croft’s first appearance as a mobile game, Lara Croft Go is a nice calming puzzler. I wish there were more levels as it is over just as you’re getting into it, but beggars can’t be choosers and what is available is fine enough. A little more of a tougher challenge would have been nice as well, but again, what exists is a nice solid little mobile experience. I hope that more levels will be available over time, as this is definitely a world I wouldn’t mind heading back into eventually.