200 Games, 200 Words: 3 – Tomb Raider (2013)

After Tomb Raider’s opening sequence, I quipped on Twitter that it was the best fire-based adventure puzzle game this year. But that’s not all this game does, obviously. That’s actually kind of a problem, in that it’s trying to do a lot of things, and gets very few of them exactly right. It’s certainly a very enjoyable game to play, but there are a lot of nagging issues. For example, there’s a Metroidvania element, with new abilities unlocking new areas, but progression through the game’s spaces is actually far more linear than that. You might be able to access a new part of an earlier area, but getting there requires back-tracking via a fast-travel system. On that note, while there are certain open-world ambitions, the game never actually does more than hint at openness.

YYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY

To avoid rape, press Y at the exact right moment, then repeat. If you fail, start over.

There are also tonal issues aplenty. During the game’s promotion, there was a lot of talk around a scene where Lara is subject to attempted rape. The actual scene involves a skeezy guy making nebulous but definitely sexual assault-based threats, which you must escape from via a multi-stage, insta-fail quick time event. Hardly the most serious treatment of a very serious subject. Likewise, the game makes a big deal of the psychological impact on Lara the first time she’s forced to shoot a man. But seconds later she might shoot another man, and get a notification of bonus XP for a headshot.
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