Shadow of the Tomb Raider brings Lara Croft full circle

“I’ve only got one chance at this,” Lara says urgently.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Yikes, I think this might be Tom’s real review of this game.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider even lets you spend a skill point so you never have to deal with another Scripted Peril Moment.

That was the moment the game lost me. I picked the skill early on while thinking, “Surely they don’t mean that taking this turns off the hang-by-your-fingertips QTE events, right?” But it did. The developrs obviously hate that stuff too, so why even have it in the game? The animation becomes a dull frustration after taking that skill. Oh, yes. Har har, Lara. You’re totally going to fall off that ledge… NOT! Just a monumentally dumb design decision.

“is there still a place for games like this? Is anyone still interested in playing Find the Climbable Texture? In this glorious heyday of open-world games, is there any appeal in Hold the Joystick While the Avatar Does Her Animation on the Way to the Next Plot Trigger?”

Yes. I’m one of those people. I’d rather that than play a lot of open world games, to be perfectly honest. I’m not saying it’s a deeply compelling experience necessarily (I still haven’t finished or indeed progressed all that far in Rise of the Tomb Raider) but I find the primary difference when going open world, much of the time, is less focus, less spectacle, and less variety of environment, encounters, etc. I also was the audience for Call of Duty singleplayer, when that franchise still had it.

Of course, I still don’t particularly like QTEs, I like having a plot worth paying attention to even if it’s nonsense, and I don’t really want to play these games as often as they come out. But I do want to.

But by this point, I had been hate-playing Shadow of the Tomb Raider for some time, the same way I hate-watched Walking Dead or Lost. I’ve come this far. Might as well see it through.

I’ve never understood the concept of the hate-{action}, have you provided me the Rosetta stone? Is it just a matter of needing to see this thing through to the end, regardless of whether or not it’s providing you anything other than some kind of resolution at the end?

It’s just a box.

I believe it was referred to as a SILVER BOX. ;)

Press X to Mud

This was sorta cool , until it didn’t matter because some enemies just seemed to know you were hiding on a muddy vine wall no matter what you did (see final boss fight).

Also you know what was really weird, I remember buying a Rope Ascender from some old lady merchant maybe half way into the game, and then never needing it once the entire game. I mean I am done the main story, and at 87% overall completion and never needed it once. Why was it even added to Shadow?

I totally agree with Tom , and more so that I feel this game had the worst writing of the 3 new TR games. Overall this game was disappointing. Beautiful to look at, a few better Tombs to raid , but that’s about it.

Just finished it last night. I’m a bit more inclined to like it, as I was expecting the writing to be just as bad as it is, and I still have a pretty high tolerance for playing find the climbable texture if the world design is impressive, but it’s easily the worst of the reboots, even though the big changes they made this time round were almost designed to appeal to me. The skill tree is staggeringly boring. The puzzle design is mostly lacklustre. The “crafting” is trivialised, at least on normal difficulty. The combat encounters are thankfully fewer but the horde-y ones are just as stupid. I did appreciate the improved stealth, even though it’s just as gamey as Tom suggests, and this

is particularly jarring.
It’s totally lost the sense of exploration, unlocking new pathways, that the first game developed, though never fully exploited. It’s all hub-based fetch quests interspersed with occasional linear running sequences and absurd shootouts.

I think there are a handful (like, maybe three) closets that you can only open with it. So it was added to give you a bit of resources and 0.4% completion.

Well they must be in the 13% of content I haven’t finished yet! I also still have 4 of them lockpick chests to open!

A pulsing yellow godray waypoint shines down from heaven. Come here, Lara, it says yellowly, drawing your eye like the weak point on a Capcom boss monster.

I sense that “Come here, Lara, it says yellowly” is influenced by @Kelly_Wand synopses.

One other thing that I know Tom should have mentioned but didn’t is how the in game flashlight sucks and only works half the time, has no toggle and really does a poor job of lighting up stuff.

I miss Rise’s glow sticks.

I will sound like a broken record, but I have to disagree. TR reboot IMO is NOT a demonstration of the transformative power of violence. “Violence as empowerment” is basically copying the playbook of colonialist, not destruction of “might makes right” colonialism. In TR reboot, this wee little Lara started killing her oppressors instead of letting them kill her. So in order to fight those assholes, she became the asshole herself.

Now I’m not saying Lara should start hugging trees and try to talk her way out of a murderous situation. But in TR (and RoTR) Lara was depicted to kill all and sundry unduly cruel. That is not empowerment, but corruption. Corruption through violence. This is almost like toxic white feminism, where white women demand equal right as white men to oppress the non-whites. They don’t want equality for all, just equal as white men.

The real solution to oppression is to destroy the master-slave relation, not to perpetuate new master-slave oppression. When Lara becomes free of the master-slave relation, as neither a master nor a slave, then she is truly free. [Mingled the prose earlier.]

PS: Oh, Shadow of Tomb Raider, lulz, the way Tom feels about SoTR is the way I feel about TR 2013. RoTR was actually a mild improvement because of the exploration and environmental puzzles.

Press X to Mud.

Right. Tom’s arc with this series is basically my arc with the first game. Lara’s “transformative arc of violence” is kind of explicitly her going from a real (bland) character to video game murdergirl, what with them having her visually become Lara Croft in the final fight.

The rebooted series has the same problems all deconstructions run into sooner or later: eventually you have to actually build something from it. But they faux seriousness and grit saps the fun out of being horrible grave robbing murdergirl, but they can’t also not do that, because if you don’t, you’re not Lara Croft anymore.

So what they went with is…doing an extended multi-series deconstructionist origin story, retreading the same ground to increasingly miniscule returns. Hooray for no one.

I like the sequels more because the ratio of “spot the climbable ledge” exploration/puzzle gameplay to overly scripted “dramatic” sequences shifted way more towards the former. There’s no denying the writing in them is the absolute pits though.

If only there were a place that article could have been discussed! :)

Interesting perspective, but the template for the Tomb Raider reboot is horror, not history.


It’s also a matter of habit. Do I want to watch a movie on Netflix or just kinda half pay attention to this week’s episode of Walking Dead just so I can be sure I still hate it. Do I want to start playing Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey and invest in learning a new game world, or do I just want to plow through the rest of Tomb Raider because it will be mindless and easy and then I’ll have that out of the way?


I am proud to say that a lot of what I say and write is influenced by Kelly Wand! Not so much what I do, though.


I love these reviews so much.

It’s interesting to play Lara and Kassandra in succession. There are a bunch of overlaps and differences.

Assuming it’s something that you once liked I think there’s a couple things. One is the sunk-cost thing that Tom mentioned, simply seeking closure, or figuring that you’ve gotten through 80% of it, might as well see it through.

But I think there’s also a kind of beleagured optimism that it might redeem itself. And even if it doesn’t, there’s a perverse pleasure in having your expectations of it being bad affirmed. “I bet this is going to be terrible. [watches] That was terrible! I was right! Man, I’m so smart.”