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Tomb Raider (2013) is nothing like I remembered it.

Content of the article: "Tomb Raider (2013) is nothing like I remembered it."

I have a confession to make: after playing Tomb Raider: Anniversary, I immediately developed a retroactive aversion for the reboot trilogy and joined the "this is not Tomb Raider" bandwagon.

Right now, however, I realize that I was very unfair to those games. Granted, apart from Anniversary, I haven't finished any of the older games, so I'm not exactly qualified to define what is a proper Tomb Raider game, but I've recently started replaying the reboot and man, this is a lot better than I remembered.

When I originally played it I mostly stuck to the main missions, so I was blasted with an endless flow of high-octane action, scripted set-pieces and cutscenes. Now, there is certainly a lot of action here, but if you wait for the dust to settle before moving on, you'll notice that the same environments that serve as the stage for the action sequences can turn into huge environmental puzzles as the game morphs into something far more akin to a (great) collectathon than the Uncharted "rip-off" it's often accused (including by my past self) of being.

Collectibles are a bit of a tricky thing. When used poorly, they often feel like filler content, polluting the game with meaningless, annoying stuff. When used correctly, however, collectibles can motivate the player to explore the environment in different ways. It's the developers' way of saying: "While it doesn't seem like this is a spot you should be able to reach, you can get here, and you'll have plenty of fun trying to do so". They're an invitation for the player to play with the level, instead of just through it.

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This is where Tomb Raider excells. It's one of those games (like the far more recent Jedi: Fallen Order) that greatly rewards you for going on a completionist run. Dare I say, it practically becomes a different game altogether, and this is coming from someone who never, ever goes for collectibles or does completionist runs (except, again, for Jedi: Fallen Order).

Also, I'm just talking about the side-stuff in the main environments here. There are also the challenge tombs. It's unfortunate that there are so few of them. I mean, they could have made a hundred of those and I'd still want more, but they are few. They're also pretty short but, oh, so sweet! The environments are remarkably well-designed and the puzzles are very neat to solve.

All in all, I find it pretty crazy that about seven years after it came out (and I beat it) this game can surprise me so much and feel like a completely different title due to a change in playstyle. I can't wait to play the next two games in this same way!

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Now, I'd still prefer something along the lines of Anniversary, with an almost exclusive focus on tomb raiding and puzzle-platforming, but it's highly unlikely that we'll ever get an AAA Tomb Raider like that again, so at least I'm happy to have noticed there's a lot more of that stuff in the reboot than I thought.


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