During the annual Tribeca Games Festival last Friday, Square-Enix officially unveiled Tomb Raider’s Shadow. The existence of the game is certainly no secret, but I am glad to know that it is real. Audiences in attendance should see a 20-minute gameplay video, along with a panel of game developers and talent. The hour-long show did a great job of making this entry so special. Based on everything shown and said at the event, Shamb of the Tomb Raider is shaping up to be one of the best games of the year.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider is the third and final part of Laura Croft’s transformation into “Tomb Raider”. The character has evolved from an innocent explorer to an experienced warrior. This entry sees Laura at the height of her powers. She is now a force of nature. Instead of her hunting, she was a hunter. However, Laura is still very human. Unlike the previous two games, this installment makes Craft question her actions. Is she really a righteous person who believes in herself? Or did she become a dark reflection of herself? Even a completely “evil” adversary would doubt whether Laura is the hero of her story.
The demo craft starts somewhere unexpectedly unexpected: the busiest street in Mexico. Exotic Areas is nothing new to the franchise, but the crowd certainly is. Typically, the people Laura encounters are only Trinity mercenaries to kill her. It seemed more like Assassin’s Creed than Tomb Raider. I’m not sure if Shadow will have similar moments, but I’d definitely like to see Laura interact more with others. It’s a nice change of pace.
Following Trinity into a nearby jungle, Laura begins her hunting in disguise. Here, we see some new gameplay mechanics. Laura can now mix the trees and the leaves covering the walls. It helps her sneak up on enemies without being discovered. She could mud herself to add more. As director Daniel Chayer-Bisson says, Laura “can become wild.” Thanks to the wild setting, Shamb of the Tomb Raider puts more emphasis on theft.
Rather than previous entries, this installment fully embraces the title “Tomb Raider”. In past titles, players are metaphorically and literally “up”, this entry is about descending. To explore the new Mayan subterranean ruins, Laura has to dig down. This adds a new sense of verticality to the gameplay. It also speaks into Laura’s personal personal darkness. In addition to rope climbing, she can also rope-walk along the walls. These new mechanics, along with her extraordinary ability to climb impossibly steep hills, opens up exploration like never before. Tombstones are becoming more attractive.
Swimming is not new to Tomb Raider. However, this aspect has not been a major part of recent years. According to fan requests, the underwater exploration is back on a large scale. You are swimming in dirty shallows. Maybe more than that. Underwater hazards include volatile caves that collapse without warning. Giant eels are another danger to fight as well. In fact, Laura needs to make sure she doesn’t drown in death due to lack of oxygen. In some ways, these underwater parts are the most annoying sections in the game.
While stealth is a key factor, players can look forward to the series trademark gun battles. In the later part of the demo, Laura has no choice but to disassemble the assault rifle and deal directly with Trinity. Like the previous one, the best way to survive is to go from cover to cover and pick enemies. From what I can see, this item does not look different from the previous one. There is always a gunfight with games, so this is not a complaint. If it is