Lara Croft Go is a 2015 game developed by Square Enix Montreal, and not an attempt to cash in on the success of last year’s Pokémon Go as I thought it was to start with. Instead of running around with your phone battling snakes and raiding tombs (ok, somebody make that), it’s a pretty simple app that’s also available on your PC through Steam.
Unlike the Lara Croft games you’re probably more familiar with, Go doesn’t really focus on the story or constant action. Instead, it’s a top-down turn-based puzzle game, where you have to navigate Lara through various bits of tomb, with increasingly difficult challenges as you go. To begin with you’ll just be dodging snakes, but before long you’ll have to avoid mad lizards that chase you through the map, classic rotating spikes, and giant rolling boulders. It all comes together well, with a challenge that is tough but never gets irritating. Less Super Meat Boy and more Portal, but without the storyline. In fact it probably has even less storyline than Super Meat Boy, since the basic premise of “raid the tomb and don’t get killed” pretty much takes you through the entire thing.
However, this is fully understandable considering it was originally developed as an app rather than as a game for your PC. This aspect is most noticeable in the controls, with the swiping of your finger that you would use on your phone, replaced with a click-and-drag system which is a little awkward to get used to, especially as the Steam port doesn’t tell you how to do it. However, once you get used to it, it’s fine and you soon ignore it as you’re thrust into the experience.
And what an experience it provides! The design of the game is terrific, with the blocky style of the main areas you explore complemented by the mystery of the vague areas in the background. The sound is also pretty great, with the main sounds during levels being the movements of Lara and the obstacles in her path, and the music at the end of levels provides an oddly satisfying sense of achievement. The challenge is also well balanced, with some critics calling it too hard and some calling it too easy, which usually indicates that it’s done pretty well. The enemies are enough of a threat to keep you on your toes and the puzzles range from a little bit easy to ones that you really have to think hard about to solve. There’s also a slightly infuriating collection game that takes place alongside the puzzles, where you have to spot and click on vases which contain jewels or parts of relics, which can be pretty difficult to find. It gives you a good reason to replay the game as it’ll tell you that you’ve missed, inevitably, one piece of the relic.
Overall, Lara Croft Go is an entertaining and charming puzzle game which is absolutely worth its low cost. While it is perhaps a little bit short, the DLC should go some way to remedying this, and it’s enjoyable enough even without it. Pick it up in a sale and you’ll have no regrets.