Lara’s back! With the return of Britain’s most preeminent tomb-philandering aristocrat, we tasked our resident pair of nerds to carry her bags.
Lady Lara Croft is back in Shadow of the Tomb Raider, the last game of the 2010s reboot trilogy.
Picking up where we left off in Rise of the Tomb Raider, Lara is traversing the wilds of South America in an attempt to fight off the nefarious Trinity organization and stop a Mayan apocalypse.
While the story can’t quite be described as “weak,” it certainly isn’t strong. Regardless, it’s a welcome departure from the daddy-issues-driven plots of the previous two games. We’re even gifted a sense of morality as secondary characters question Lara’s motives and try to move her away from the kill-happy character of the 2013 Tomb Raider and 2015 Rise.
However, the story is not what we’re here for; the stars of Shadow of the Tomb Raider are the set pieces and gameplay.
Being semi open-world, you’re free to wander and take in the whole extraordinary environment. The dense jungle teems with life, buzzing with the sound of birds and terrifying calls of howler monkeys. In one intense moment, a beautiful and menacing jaguar will come for you and, unfortunately, you’ll have to take down the majestic predator. It’s scary, but oh so pretty!
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The Incan and Mayan temples are nothing short of breathtaking and offer you delightfully challenging puzzles. In fact, the whole game is a return to classic Tomb Raider solitude and problem-solving.
One almost-cool feature is the “immersive” gameplay, which, when switched on, changes the speech of NPCs (non-playable characters) to their native tongue. However, there is no option to up Lady Croft’s language abilities and respond in kind. Instead, she speaks in English and the whole thing devolves into an allegory for white privilege.
Despite such relatively minor pitfalls, Shadow of the Tomb Raider emerges as a totally worthwhile game, both exquisite and interesting to play.
It can be experienced on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
All that and more on The Nerd Reserve podcast!