Lara Croft GO is an isometric turn-based strategy action puzzle game available for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4 and PS Vita. Lara Croft has been one of the very best and most popular favourite female characters amongst gamers since her debut in Tomb Raider on PS1 in 1996. The GO series began with the award-winning Hitman GO releasing in April 2014 followed by Lara Croft GO that released in August 2015 on iOS and Android platforms receiving critical acclaim and won such awards as Apple’s iPhone Game of the Year and Best Mobile/Handheld Game of the Year at The Game Awards in 2015 having since been succeeded on mobile devices by Deus Ex GO. Lara Croft GO is not Lara’s first isometric outing as Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light on PS3 and Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris on PS4 both came beforehand, although Lara Croft GO does introduce turn-based movement and strategic gameplay for the first time. How well does Lara Croft GO’s isometric turn-based strategy action puzzle gameplay make the transition from mobile devices to PS4 and Vita?
Lara Croft GO includes all of the original levels spread throughout five chapters from the launch of the iOS and Android versions as well as two further post-release chapters are bundled into the version on PlayStation platforms for no additional cost totalling to 115 levels within seven chapters.
The main objective is to overcome every enemy and obstacle by destroying or outmanoeuvring them on the way to the end of each level. Secondary objectives come in the form of collectibles that can be found within vases scattered throughout the levels such as relic fragments that collectively form an artefact from each chapter as well as a different type of collectible spread throughout each chapter including quartz, emeralds, sapphires and more besides for the purpose of unlocking new outfits after collecting everything within a specific chapter.
The turn-based gameplay mechanics of Lara Croft GO mostly produces trial and error gameplay due to the majority of Lara’s enemies and surrounding obstacles moving simultaneously when Lara does; albeit in a rather intuitive fashion that works in perfect harmony despite the series never having set foot in that direction prior to GO.
Lara’s character design remains faithfully intact with a range of unlockable outfits for the iconic Lara Croft such as a classic outfit and a core classic outfit from the original Tomb Raider games, while Hitman, Deus Ex and Just Cause themed outfits are available in addition to an unlockable outfit per chapter totalling to 13 outfits. Lara utilises weapons such as her trademark pistols, but gains new weapons as the game progresses such as spears that can be thrown at enemies from a distance. Enemies include snakes that will attack Lara if she is standing one node in front of them, lizards that will be alerted by Lara’s presence when she stands within two nodes of where the lizard is facing and will proceed to follow Lara as she moves from node to node, spiders are tricky to navigate at times as they consistently move from node to node in tandem with Lara’s movement and more besides.
Environment design consists of traps such as cracks in fragile platforms or walls that will crumble after twice placing Lara’s weight on them, rotating saw blades moving from one node to another in a horizontal or vertical direction, boulders and more besides. Traps positioned around the environments are complimented by complex puzzles including levers, switches and pillars being activated at a specific time to correspond with an enemy standing on a floor switch, enabling Lara to move along an otherwise impassable gap or re-positioning a circular saw from one area to another for it to slice through enemies that would have previously been positioned to attack Lara immediately after Lara had killed the adjacent enemy.
Lara Croft GO supports cross-buy and cross-save between the PS4 and Vita. Cross-buy presents a superb amount of value as it means that you will be purchasing the PS4 and Vita versions of the game with just a single purchase. The cross-save functionality allows you to sync the progression of your save file from your Vita to your PS4 and vice versa, so you can start playing the game on your Vita on the way to and from work, sync your save game when you return home and then resume were you left off by loading the save game and continuing via the PS4 version. The cross-save feature is made possible by uploading your save file to the cloud on one console and downloading it from the other console.
The controls are well mapped to the Vita with the control scheme consisting of pressing X to perform actions such as pressing X to toggle levers; holding square and changing the direction of the left analogue stick to aim and throw spears at enemies; holding triangle and changing the direction of the left analogue stick to move pillars or pull switches; and pressing start to display the menu. The Vita’s touch screen is implemented by swiping across the touch screen in the direction you want to move Lara Croft along the grid nodes in addition to tapping the touch screen to discover the contents of a vase or pull levers. The DualShock 4 control scheme mostly remains the same, although the swiping across the Vita’s touch screen has not been re-mapped to the DualShock 4’s touch pad with the touch pad only being an alternative to pressing X when highlighting a vase using a cursor that is moved by the right analogue stick. There is surprisingly no vibration when Lara attacks enemies or is attacked by enemies or even when she falls from a crumbling rock, while there is no light bar implementation which could have remained a light shade of blue to reflect Lara’s traditional outfit, flashed the colour of the enemy that had just came into her view such as orange for the snakes and lizards and pulsated red when an enemy had killed Lara or when she had fallen.
Graphically, there are some excellent touches such as the appropriate lighting and shadows creating an atmospheric feel to the surrounding environments, while environments depict ancient tombs as players would anticipate from a Tomb Raider game and Lara Croft’s animations are fluent in accurately representing her as an acrobatic character capable of killing a large snake or lizard during an aerial flip.
The presentation of the game is solid albeit the loading screens could have been far more imaginative with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, relics menu, outfits menu, settings menu and gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad, face buttons and touch screen on Vita, although it does not include support for navigation via the right analogue stick and rear touch pad, while the navigation through the menus on the PS4 version rather surprisingly does not include support for the touch pad given that the Vita’s touch screen is supported. The background of the main menu pays homage to Lara’s previous adventures as the level selection menu is entered through a diary with Lara’s initials on the front, while the relic fragments can be viewed from Lara’s backpack, outfits can be selected from Lara’s watch, credits can be found within a postcard and settings can be adjusted through a switchblade.
Sound effects include Lara running, jumping, wall climbing, shooting her pistols, throwing spears and using levers, enemies such as snakes, lizards and spiders moving and screeching as they are killed as well as obstacles such as circular saws moving from node to node. Ambience such as swirling wind, water rippling and wildlife sets the tone for the surrounding environments which is complimented by a soundtrack of tranquil, thought provoking music. There is surprisingly no DualShock 4 speaker implementation in the PS4 version which could have preferably produced the amazing ambience from the surrounding environments or alternatively to produce sound effects or music.
The trophy list includes 18 trophies with 3 bronze trophies, 5 silver trophies, 9 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy. Easier trophies include the Archaeologist bronze trophy for finding a relic fragment by tapping the first vase shortly into the opening level, while half of the trophies are story related and will be earned naturally by completing every level. Harder trophies include the Preservation Society and the Curator gold trophies for breaking all 165 vases and completing the 7 relics respectively. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 4 to 6 hours to platinum the trophy list.
There are no difficulty levels, although there is a noticeable gradual increase in difficulty curve with new enemies and obstacles being introduced every few levels to create a challenging experience for the player to navigate through the majority of levels which will most probably require multiple attempts.
Lara Croft GO has no form of multiplayer on Vita and PS4, but a pass the Vita or pass the controller local multiplayer and online multiplayer could have consisted of any number of players attempting to complete a level in the fewest turns possible or perhaps a further variant in which one player would play as Lara Croft trying to navigate obstacles and enemies with the second player actively trying to prevent Lara from doing so by re-positioning obstacles and enemies. There are no online leaderboards, although there could have been leaderboards for every level with the positioning of players based upon their quickest time and fewest turns required to complete each level as well as the total amount of time and turns to complete every level combined.
Lara Croft GO’s replayability stems from the collectibles such as varying types of gems that are scattered throughout levels which are required to unlock Lara Croft’s outfits, therefore creating a gameplay design choice that provides a reward for exploring the secondary objectives contained within each of the 115 levels spread across 7 chapters including two post-release chapters which will have players returning to levels multiple times over.
- Title: Lara Croft GO
- Developer: Square Enix Montreal
- Publisher: Square Enix
- System: PS4/PS Vita
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross-Buy: Yes (PS4 and PS Vita)
- Cross-Play: Yes (Cross-save)
- Players: 1
- Memory Card Space Required: 1.174GB/Hard Drive Space Required: 1.68GB