Lara Croft makes a glorious return with puzzle and exploration sections

By Chris Mudd, Staff Writer

“Rise of the Tomb Raider” takes the strong foundation of one of gaming’s legacies and reinvigorates it. The previous installment in the franchise attempted to revitalize the aging character with a fresh take on the protagonist Lara Croft. While the rebooted “Tomb Raider” was certainly not a bad game by any stretch of the imagination, it did leave out the exploratory elements that made the originals so fun to play.

What “Rise of the Tomb Raider” did so beautifully was mix the action-adventure gameplay elements of modern games with the nostalgic exploration that made the original “Tomb Raider” games such staples in the gaming world.

The combat of the game felt solid and fun, with the player’s power improving exponentially as the game moved forward. My only complaint is the difficulty curve flatlines pretty quickly. I found the puzzle sections of the game to be much more fun, as the enemies never really posed any challenge to begin with. Particularly several hours into the game when the player’s weapons wipe the floor with the bad guys.

This is yet another installation in the third-person shooter genre, and it’s impossible not to feel comfortable with the formula after years of “Uncharted” and “The Last of Us.” What’s ironic is the “Tomb Raider” franchise had a pivotal role in creating the genre, and it’s a shame no nuance or innovation came with Lara’s latest game.

Yet, after wading through the combat sections, the true colors of “Rise of Tomb Raider” were revealed. The puzzle and exploration sections of the game were some of the most memorable gaming experiences I’ve had in some time. And not just the main puzzles — there were plenty hid away in the dark nooks and crannies of the world that were increasingly enticing as the player pushed forward in their quest.

The story left something to be desired. Despite clever character dialogue throughout and wonderfully animated actors, the overall story of the game was rather formulaic. That being said, there was a moral gray area Lara treaded through as her journey became more and more driven by obsession. At the very least, her character was enjoyably fleshed out, and it was wonderful to see added layers in such an iconic character.

All in all, “Rise of the Tomb Raider” did what the reboot last year should have done. There were still some cracks in the game, but it took substantial effort to find any valid criticism of this surprisingly excellent game. Welcome back, Lara.