Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date: December 8th, 2014
Available On: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Reviewer’s Note: I played this game on the PlayStation 4. There may be differences between versions.
It seems a little weird that there’s two completely different Tomb Raider timelines going on at the same time, but that’s currently the case. The sequel to 2010’s surprisingly awesome Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, Temple of Osiris sticks a bit close to the old formula but adds in more than enough to be worth going through.
One thing that doesn’t really stand out is the game’s story. Temple of Osiris sees Lara Croft and partner/rival (never really made clear) Carter Bell raiding a temple to find the Staff of Osiris. While they do find the staff they also accidentally release the Egyptian god Set, who tries to renew his quest to take over the world. Lucky for them they also release Osiris’s wife, Isis, and his son, Horus, and the four of them decide to work together to reassemble Osiris to take down Set. The story never really does much with this premise, basically just using it to push you from one tomb to the next to collect pieces of Osiris. In fact, it’s almost a little comedic when Lara’s crew spends all this time clearing out a tomb only to be rewarded with a stone foot, especially considering all the dramatic build-up said foot had. The game’s story also suffers a little when you play solo, as Lara does everything herself while the other three characters remain seated at the level’s start yet somehow still interact in scenes.
Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris is a top down shooter with a heavier emphasis on exploration and puzzle solving than what you would probably expect from the genre. The game controls about how I would expect: left stick moves, right stick aims, and the right trigger shoots. The other three shoulder buttons each have their own uses as well. One allows Lara to light a torch, which can be used to find hidden gems. Another lets her throw a grappling hook that attaches to golden hoops in the environment so she can hang off or run across walls. The most important, however, comes from Osiris’ staff. By raising it you can interact with points in the environment in special ways. Sometimes it’ll lower doors, other times it’ll raise platforms, and you can even use it to slow down the timer on bombs.You can also equip the staff as a weapon which lets you shoot a laser to close portals and activate switches. Combining these skills to solve the various puzzles Lara runs into is a key component to the game. None of the puzzles were too hard that I felt the need to resort to a guide, but rather are just hard enough to make me think a little and feel good when I solved them.
Between puzzles I found myself completing some mild platforming, again managing to hit a good level of “challenging, but not frustrating”, and collecting hidden gems. After every level there’s a treasure room where you can spend the gems you collect opening treasure chests to get rewards. Rings give passive boosts, like more health and damage. Amulets are more interesting though, causing various effects if you can get your score multiplier high enough. By the end of the game I had one that gave me a spread shot, another that turned my bullets into “inferno” rounds, and a third that caused me to steal health when I damaged enemies.
Speaking of enemies, running into them was a given. Set likes to send skeletons and crocodiles at you it seems. You can equip up to three different weapons at once, and can also drop remote bombs. Despite this, I actually found combat to probably be the weakest part of the game, which is surprising considering this is a twin stick shooter. Enemies are often the “put bullets in them until they die” type with few exceptions. The only ones I really saw came from a couple of enemies where you’d also have to use a bomb on them. I guess its a good thing that the game’s boss fights played out like big puzzles then. A giant snake boss required me to figure out how to get a laser through several portals while bouncing it off mirrors, while a giant crocodile saw me figuring out how to bounce bombs into a trap for it. They’re easily the highlight of the game for me, though a few “shoot them until they’re dead” bosses stand out for not being nearly as fun.
Of course, while you can play Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris solo, the game can also be played with up to four players either online or locally. In a particularly smart move puzzles and tomb layouts are altered so that they can be completed with multiple players working together, and each character is given some special powers to do so. Like many games co-op helps improve it, and honestly attempting to coordinate my friends to smash through a puzzle is always a joy. If you’re looking for a good game to pick up with some others then you could do much worse than Temple of Osiris.
Yet even alone Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris stands out. The exploration heavy twin stick shooter manages to find a good rhythm with its puzzles and platforming. The combat is serviceable enough and manages to avoid dragging the game down too far, and the story is basically a misfire, but its all wrapped together nicely. Lara Croft fans should be happy to know that she still has it, even in a different perspective.