Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Publisher: Square Enix
Plot: Lara Croft and Carter Bell race to get an artefact in Ancient Egypt, unaware that they are awakening an evil and benevolent God.
If you are a Tomb Raider fan, you will be painfully aware that your franchise is always dancing along a knife’s edge. Ever since, Lara locked herself in an Egyptian tomb, we could argue the franchise has never been the same. Anthology prequels and a dark, yet unsatisfying PS2 resurrection all but killed the treasured Playstation heroine. Then just as Keeley Hawes clawed the fans back with a hit-and-miss reboot trilogy, the story was scrapped for a brand new origin story. While the Tomb Raider reboot was a terrific display of story-telling and, in all honesty, gaming, that spark that made Tomb Raider so iconic had been lost in the grittiness. More recently, Playstation has lost out exclusivity to the Xbox One, so we might not even get to play Rise of the Tomb Raider until a few months after the release. As loyal as we are, few fans have gotten used to being kicked around and neglected as we have.
This is why I fully support the idea of Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris. This game is less spin-off and more an adjacent series of Tomb Raider. It is worlds away from the origin story that the reboot told, focusing more on that fun, puzzle-solving and, yes, tomb-raiding angle that the new Tomb Raider seemed to be lacking. Keeley Hawes makes a comeback, the sure-fire setting of Egypt returns and with that, fans were instantly reminded of the Tomb Raider they had been missing all this time. After a quick prologue sequence, the story is set. Osiris’s reign has been destroyed by the cunning Set. Humanity’s only hope is for Lara and Carter, alongside Horus and Isis, to go through the various tombs in the kingdom, freeing the other Gods from Set’s evil hold. Cue several interesting tombs, each one focusing on a different variety of puzzles (some spike traps, others timing puzzles, few have a good old-fashioned boss fight!), that the player, or players, must smash their way through. An interesting dynamic added to the game is a list of challenges, as well as a counter for your best time for each level. This makes Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris the kind of game you keep returning to, hoping to better that high score you achieved last time around. A simple addition, but a clever way of building to the longevity of the game.
The interesting thing with this game is the co-op mode. Lara might be best known as a lone wolf, but with three other characters neatly written into the plot, the new guys don’t pose as a problem. Horus and Isis provide the protection from Set that only Gods can manage. Carter starts the game as an enemy, but reluctantly works with the others to bring down Set. They work in terms of the story. Still, because the game plays it fast, Carter feels under-developed. Even Horus and Isis, despite being Gods, will likely lose out to Lara Croft, when it comes to selecting someone to play. It is hard to criticise this side of the game, because there is an appreciative feeling to having your favourite PS1 hero getting dibs over almighty Gods. The layout of the game allows for co-op play, but doesn’t demand it. True, the action stages of the game drown you in enemies to the point, where an extra pair of guns really helps out. However, if you are willing to up your game for the fighting, there is joy in playing alone and spending time figuring out the puzzles that the game throws at you. In fact, there are certain sections where the co-op side of the game gets a little messy. A battle with Sobek gets confusing with multiple players battling for room. Two players fight for space on the screen. This isn’t necessarily an unexpected problem, as most co-op games I have experienced suffer the same flaws, but it does make Temple of Osiris’s USP slightly not up-to-par.
However, the true problem with Temple of Osiris is that, no matter how entertaining it is, it never really gets over that sense of being a simple distraction. The story mode is very short and the game focuses more on puzzles than narrative. Set is little more than a pantomime villain, which is slightly disappointing. There is an easy pleasure of shooting through a group of enemies, but the fun isn’t lasting. Say what you want about the reboot but it did power and gravitas incredibly well. I love what Temple of Osiris stands for, and I am all for as many alternative Tomb Raider games as possible, but, for me, this game is light entertainment. Excellent for what it is, but this fan is playing it to make that wait for Rise of the Tomb Raider less painful.
Final Verdict: Light fun, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. Bonus points for the Gold Edition box-set which includes an adorable Lara figurine.