Lara Croft GO from Square Enix Montreal takes the well received gameplay from Hitman GO and applies it to the Tomb Raider universe. The result is one of the most engaging and enjoyable mobile puzzle games to hit iOS and Android in a long time.
The game uses the same mechanics from Hitman when it comes to moving your character along an isometric “board game” like level, but it’s the nuance that really separates it from the Canadian studios prior offering. At it’s most simple the point of the game is to move Lara from point A to point B by swiping up, down, left and right across a static level. This becomes increasingly difficult as puzzles are applied in the form of monsters and traps that have been placed in the way. The decision to have the player learn the game’s mechanics such as levers, breakable tile, monster types…etc, by doing rather than reading or watching made for a very pleasant play-through. How this game teaches the player to navigate through these levels is something other developers should emulate as I never felt overwhelmed or unaware of my options.
Graphically GO reminds me of the PS1 era Tomb Raider but it is very much updated for a more modern feel. The world and characters almost have a cel shaded appearance that pop from the screen and that is aided by the developers clever use of perspective, creating a very effective depth of field. This perspective helps in showing the player the layers of the board they are playing on, but also is how the collectible are hidden on the map.
Gems and statue pieces are spread throughout the levels in gold jars, and once collected these items will unlock additional outfits from Lara’s storied career. Not to be overlooked by any means is the sound design. In most mobile games the sound seems to be an afterthought but here it shines alongside the crisp clean graphics. Scraping stones, hissing snakes, crumbling walls, and growling monsters all help create a very immersive puzzle game.
A major difference between this being a mobile experience verses a console experience is that I did not mind the relative lack in difficulty. The game permits itself to be played in 10 minute chunks while still allowing the player a sense of progression. Puzzles rarely required more than two or three tries once the nuts and bolts of the level were laid out. However they still provided that same “Ah ha!” sensation that great puzzle games supply upon solving.
The best thing I can say about Lara Croft Go is that every level (and there are 40 of them) felt fresh and inventive. The sense of satisfaction for beating a puzzle was great in singularity and as part of the greater whole. It’s also worth noting that this mobile puzzle game “feels” like a Tomb Raider game. It captures the vibe and feel perfectly, but is good enough on it’s own that you do not have to be a fan to play.