Much has been said about Lara Croft’s return to form with the recent reboot of the Tomb Raider series, but as is true with any icon, be it Cinderella or Superman, Lara has taken many forms over the years, and is instantly recognizable no matter which form she’s in.
And since the games we can choose from are more diverse than ever, many of Lara’s iterations can exist at once without pushing the others away. Lara Croft GO, a delightful little jewel of a game that exists on the periphery of Lara’s more bombastic console games, shows Lara in her most recognizable costume; pistols strapped to her thighs just above some serious combat boots. This quiet, contemplative, turn-based puzzle
embodies the best of what mobile gaming has to offer, using the Tomb Raider brand as a vehicle for gorgeous and thoughtful level design.
Initially you may expect a mobile game based on an action-heavy franchise to go the route of something quick and shooty, like an endless runner, but Square Enix Montreal takes advantage of the compact display by beckoning players to intently examine at every hidden detail on screen. By doing so, they avoid two traps so many other mobile games fall into: trying to create a big and splashy experience on a device so inherently personal, and also becoming a mini billboard.
Playing Lara Croft Go is an intensely intimate experience. Within each stage are gems and hidden artifacts, and finding them is always much more challenging than I initially expect. At least once per stage, I find myself genuinely surprised at how cleverly the objects are hidden within the game’s cavernous and deceptively detailed levels. And since my phone’s screen is much smaller than the TV I’m used to gaming with, I am forced to scrutinize the hidden corners of each level as if I were analyzing one of Lara’s precious artifacts.
The degree to which I pore over each stage creates an intimate relationship with a device that has the reputation for facilitating only the most casual of gaming experiences. If you have yet to give Lara Croft Go a try, you’re seriously depriving yourself of a surprisingly pleasant and challenging experience. A new chunk of content was recently added (for free, if you already own the game), so now is the perfect time to jump in.