1. A Good First Impression
Tomb Raider launches you in. The immersion factor is gnarly too because there’s not much needed in terms of figuring out where or who you are. It does something really right for me here. The game launches you into Lara Croft’s dangerous lifestyle by making you work your way out of a dangerous ancient ruin.
The game’s premise is discovered through immediate immersion. This is great for getting players invested quickly and seeking more as they go deeper into game, while also exploring the buttons and mechanics in a way that doesn’t damage the illusion and feeling of playing a game.
You ever play a game that’s like “HEY WELCOME TO THE TUTORIAL NEW PLAYER!” oh and.. “press these buttons in the right combo at the right time to progress to part b” as the tutorial character says the same thing over and over, waiting… foree..ver….r….r.r…..
Yes… Forced Tutorials are even listed as a trope on one of my favorite “why am I reading this website…sites.” Honestly. This trend could die out and I’d be okay. I really don’t feel as sucked in to the gaming experience when new game tutorials feel too encumbering. Do me a favor, let’s ask ol’ 2019 to deliver the developers dreams and visions at night. The kind of dreams and visions that inspire them to rework tutorial modes on our favorite games.
2. The Atmosphere Can Be A Villain or Boss Fight
Is it just me… Or does the Ancient Ruin (photo above) look like a place that wants me to die in it?
Tomb Raider combines exciting stealth combat with terrain challenges. This element of the game has really grown since it’s initial launch in 1996.
Level design is great on this Tomb Raider. It’s filled with interactive elements that respond to your progress as you work your way through, essentially posing the environment as a boss or a significant hurdle to your destination. It’s not much different than having enemies to clear out in new zones. In this scenario, the enemies are the swinging steps, loose rocks and ledges, and the most unforgiving of all: timely response in a moment of danger.
Making the location a boss battle in itself is great because it’s really exciting when you just get where you need to be. Opposed to the traditional boss fight in games: beat em’ down!
Also…The Five D’s of Dodgeball Anyone?
2.2 Weird-Flex Opinion: The Greatest Strength of Explorer Games Like This Might Also Yield The Greatest Weakness
The weakness? It’s simple. This all makes you want even more. In my humble weird-flex opinion, the abilities that allow for actual “tomb raiding” in the game, ie. climbing, propelling, gripping, squeezing, blah, blah, blah… are really freaking good. DAMN good! They’re good enough to make you wonder why you don’t have even more freedom to do more. Allow me to explain.
It could just be me, but I often find myself yearning for that“where there’s a will, there’s a way” game. One that allows for an approach to free-roaming that has same caliber of beauty and level design as The Shadow of Tomb Raider.
Imagine a scenario that gave you a dope ass combination of mechanics from titles such as World’s Adrift, Spider-man, and Assassin’s Creed. Just sayin’? But that sounds pretty tight to me.
3. Polaroid Moments
You find out from the very beginning of the game that Lara Croft has a camera and is almost willing to risk her life to get the perfect shot. Well, she’s not alone in wanting to take a great photo.
I love photography in real life. The ruins in the game are steeped in beauty, mysterious, and danger. With max graphics output, this game renders stunning environments. It was difficult choosing what shots to show in this article when I restarted the game because there’s so many great opportunities.
I almost forgot to mention that the camera’s depth of field, saturation, frames, and other fun tinkerable things are included in the Photographer Mode on Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Honorable mentions goes to Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey.
AC:O also has breath-taking world environments that make you want to pause and take a photo! Although, you should know that I disabled it because it was annoying when playing with a controller on Nightmare mode.