Lara Croft Go is part Tomb Raider, part Monument Valley
Hitman Go was a wonderful surprise. The mobile game took the core of the Hitman franchise — sneaking around and killing people — and turned it into digital board game, where a cold-blooded assassin was just a piece you moved around a board. It was weird, but it worked, and resulted in one of the best mobile puzzle games around. Now Square Enix has done the same with another unsuspecting blockbuster franchise: Tomb Raider. Lara Croft Go takes the pulpy adventures of the tomb raiding heroine and turns them into a fantastic turn-based puzzle game.
The core of Lara Croft Go is the same as Hitman Go. You move Lara around the board, one space at a time, and each time you make a move so will all your enemies. The key difference is what you’re actually doing; instead of planning and executing an assassination, you’ll be venturing through treacherous tombs, uncovering treasures and trying to find a way out. The levels in Hitman Go were sort of like tiny, self-contained dioramas, but in Lara Croft they’re much bigger and more dynamic. You’ll be flipping switches to open up new areas, and avoiding giant boulders like you were Indiana Jones. Along the way a massive snake lingers in the background.
The puzzles never really grow boring or repetitive
Each area in the game is its own little puzzle, and solving them means understanding all of the different gameplay elements and how they interact with each other. The enemies, for example, range from stationary snakes that will only attack if you approach them from the front, to Komodo dragon-like lizards that will follow your every movement. Sometimes you’ll need to kill them to proceed — Lara shoots a lot of animals in this game — but other times you might need to trick them into flipping a switch for you. New features are introduced as you play, and they can really alter the way the game works. When Lara gets her hands on a torch, for instance, it changes the way you interact with animals, since they’ll run away at the sight of fire. Lara Croft Go continually adds in features like that, so the puzzles never really grow boring or repetitive.
What makes Lara Croft Go work is that, not only is it a really great puzzle game, but it fits perfectly in the Tomb Raider universe. You’re playing a digital board game, sure, but it also feels like you’re exploring ancient, crumbling tombs. And despite their seemingly small size, the levels still have a real sense of scale, making it feel like you’re just a tiny piece exploring a huge world. The colorful graphics, meanwhile, have a real Monument Valley vibe. All of these elements come together to make Lara Croft Go just as surprising and wonderful as Hitman Go, despite the fact that it’s a sequel.