by Matthew Thompson
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light was such a pleasant surprise back in 2010. It even found itself on my best games of last-gen countdown. Equally surprising and pleasant was the announcement of a sequel to that game at this year’s E3 conference. I don’t think Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris tops its predecessor, but it is a nice follow-up that fans of the original will definitely enjoy.
Like GoL, Temple of Osiris is a spin-off of the mainline Tomb Raider games. Its isometric perspective, twin-stick acarde-style shooting, and cooperative options give this offshoot series a decidedly different feel than Miss Croft’s typical adventures. And yet a lot of the core elements of the series remain intact. You’ll explore ancient locales, solving puzzles and clambering about, collecting treasure and shooting up baddies. While the balance and perspective make it feel different, I’d say the abundance of tombs, clever puzzles, and supernatural foes means fans of classic TR will find more in common with the series they fell in love with here than they did in the recent reboot.
While this game follows a very similar formula to Guardian of Light, there are some new things on offer. You can now play with up to four players. Lara and her fellow adventurer Carter are equipped with torches to go with their grapples while the god characters, Horus and Isis, have a new staff that replaces GoL’s spear. While I’m not sure the staff tops the spear, I think the change is good as bringing back the spear would have meant retreading the previous game’s most interesting solutions. They do make the most of the new staff and torch. I was especially impressed with the mirror puzzles in The Tomb of the Silversmith and the firewheel puzzles in The Tomb of the Lamplighter. There is also a new hubworld which is pretty fun to explore and a loot system that has you trading in gems for a shot at new rings and amulets which grant you enhanced abilities. The latter seemed a bit excessive at first, but when I started saving my loot for the biggest treasure chests I was satisfied with the rewards. I’m also a sucker for the Egyptian setting and mythology, so that is a plus in Temple of Osiris’ favor.
There are a few changes from GoL I was less enthused about. While there are a number of varied locales within ToO, all the tombs follow a fairly similar level structure. The non-linear ones that had you bring boulders to a central location or explore larger areas in the previous game are gone. The devs might have viewed the new hubworld as a substitute for these, but I missed the variety that they gave the individual levels in Guardian of Light. They also skimped on the challenge tombs this time around which was a bummer. My only other issue was that the camera felt a little too zoomed out at times. This was probably to account for more players, but I wish it was a bit more dynamic in singleplayer. That is a small gripe though that doesn’t affect the game much in the end.
All this means that Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris feels a bit like a “one step forward, one step back” sort of sequel. It is still a game that excels in co-op but remains fun in singleplayer. The co-op along with a plethora of challenges, loot, and collectibles means the game has plenty of replay value. It is just not the leap forward one might hope for from a video game sequel. Still given how unique an experience Guardian of Light was, a very good follow-up like Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris was more than enough to satisfy me.