I’ll admit I’ve never played a Tomb Raider game before.

I’m somewhat familiar with the series and I have seen gameplay of the older PlayStation 1 games but I’ve never actually played any of them myself.

I’d heard varying things about the new 2013 Tomb Raider reboot. Some people said it was great, other people said they hated it and it ruined the character of Lara Croft.

Well recently the Epic Games Store gave away the three new Tomb Raider games for free so I figured that was as good a time as any to give them a try.

I do have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by this game and would actually really recommend it.


Tomb Raider combat screenshot

The Elephant in the Room

Before getting to far into this review I should bring up the violence and gore. It’s actually pretty intense so if that’s not your think you may want to sit this game out and maybe just jump to the second one.

For some reason the animators made tons of crazy different animations of Lara getting killed in incredibly gruesome ways.

If you want to see a good example of what I mean check out this video of Conan O’Brien playing the game:

It demonstrates what I mean pretty well. And if you can handle this then you’re all good.


Japanese ruins screenshot

The Story

This game is kind of an origin story for Lara Croft. It starts off with her and a group of people filming a documentary about trying to find the lost Japanese city of Yamatai.

Their ship hits a storm and crashes onto an island.

The island conveniently ends up having the lost city they’re looking for but they also find a crazy cult that worships a Japanese sun queen, lots of left over Japanese World War 2 elements which are neat and some supernatural elements.

Something supernatural is causing storms that keep causing planes and ships to crash on this island trapping people there.

Over the course of the game you need to find a way to escape the island while also dealing with what’s causing the storms.

The game does lean into the supernatural elements pretty hard which I wasn’t expecting. I kind of expected it to be more like the Uncharted games where there’s a perfectly rational and scientific explanation for everything that’s going on but overall it does work.



The Gameplay

The gameplay in this game is surprisingly good.

Going into this I guess I kind of expected something a little more on the lines of the Uncharted series where you’re progressing through a series of linear levels.

Instead the game is more of a 3D kind of Metroidvania sort of thing with several different areas that connect together. As you progress through the game an unlock different tools you return to different areas and open up new areas of the map you couldn’t reach before.

There’s also a semi-RPG-like leveling system where you collect experience points and buy different skills.

Exploring the areas is super fun as well because there are resources to gather that feed into a simple crafting system and lots of different challenges and things to find that award experience points.

I actually ended up 100% completing each area finding every treasure, document/journal entry and completing every challenge which was a lot of fun.

This stands out again from the Uncharted series which I’m probably going to keep comparing this game to. In the Uncharted games there’s really not much incentive to thoroughly explore each area. All you can really find there are little treasures that don’t really do anything.

In Tomb Raider everything you find feeds into the progression and makes you want to search everything out.

The platforming and combat is excellent and I’m even going to say that I thought it was better than the Uncharted games.

Stealth feels great and you have a silent bow and arrow and up close stealth attacks to take out enemies.

When you’re caught it turns into a cover-based third person shooter and the controls and combat are super tight and fun. You have a few different weapons such as a pistol, assault riffle and shotgun which are all fun to use.

Overall I have no complaints, exploration, combat and everything was really fantastic and way better than I expected from a game that’s almost 10 years old now.

You also of course have several Uncharted-like cinematic chase sequences where things are falling apart or chasing you.

And there’s also a handful of optional “Tombs” which are like mini dungeons where you have to solve a puzzle to find a treasure. They’re kind of like the shines in Zelda Breath of the Wild and they make a nice little distraction from the story.


Lara climbing the radio tower

The Graphics

The Graphics here hold up pretty well. There’s some great scenery, the character models still look great despite the games age and on my computer performance was fantastic. I only had a couple of minor glitches.

One complaint I do have through is that this is from that generation where everything was green, brown and gray so that’s pretty much all you see.

There’s some forest settings, some military base settings and some shanty-town settings, lots of caves, and to be honest they’re not amazingly interesting to look at.

I would have liked to see some more fantastical settings but I guess they were going for more gritty realism here and it makes sense that some people might complain about that.


Stealth attack with a bow

Music, Sound and Voice

The music didn’t stand out crazily to me but it all fit the game pretty well so I don’t really have any complaints there.

The sound effects are excellent, the guns and bow sound great and the environmental sounds in the forests or up on top of mountains sound great as well.

Voice acting all around is fantastic as well. All the characters have great acting and the person doing the voice of Lara is great.


Cinematic screenshot

In Conclusion

I was pleasantly surprised by Tomb Raider 2013. I do understand that the original games were a little campier and this one is a lot more gritty and real which I think turned some people off.

But if you can get past that it’s actually a very solid game.

It took me about 17-18 hours to 100% complete everything which was the perfect length. It was more than enough gameplay and didn’t overstay it’s welcome at all.

Progression and exploration was great too and by the end of the game I had more than enough resources to unlock every skill and weapon upgrade but none of them felt super necessary. You could probably ignore a large amount of that stuff and still be fine.

Overall I think it was a pretty successful reboot as long as you can handle the violence and I’d definitely recommend you give it a play.

It’s available for PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3 and PS4.

Screenshots are from the Tomb Raider page on Steam and PlayStation Store page used under Fair Use