Earlier this year PlayStation gamers were lucky enough to get a port of Square Enix Montreal’s fantastic Hitman GO on PS4 and PS Vita, which was the surprisingly-addictive puzzle game that was responsible for kicking off an entire new series. However, the game that followed that one up is Lara Croft GO, which is a game that many consider to be the current high point in the GO series. Now that very game is also making the jump to PlayStation platforms, and it makes the transition in an unsurprisingly fantastic fashion.
Lara Croft GO similarly takes the core of the Tomb Raider series it originates from and boils it down to a simple concept of traversing a board in a turn-based manner while solving puzzles and strategically taking down enemies. While it appears simple on the surface, the game has a surprising amount of depth when it comes to all the different components and how they each have their own rule sets. There’s much more going on in these levels than in Hitman GO, as things are taken to vertical terrain as Lara will be climbing the environment while locating switches and carefully traversing crumbling platforms. In true Tomb Raider fashion, there are also plenty of collectible to look out for that can be acquired with a simple tap of their spot on the screen once you’ve spotted them.
Combat itself works in the same way as before, as you’ll be able to attack enemies from the back or the sides, but you’ll die if you hit them from the front. Some enemies will remain stationary, whereas others will move around the board and even chase you if you’re spotted. This game gives more opportunities to overcome your enemies by using the environment to your advantage, with boulders and sawblades proving to be a danger to both you and your enemies. The game is also able to scale these challenges very well over its numerous levels, keeping things fresh by incorporating new enemies, weapons and puzzle types as things go along.
It also doesn’t hurt that the game is gorgeous from both a visual and audio standpoint, especially for what was built as a mobile game. The music that accompanies your adventures is very soothing and mellow, providing an atmosphere that’s certainly less bombastic than what is currently offered in the main series. The interesting and vibrant art style is also a pleasure on the eyes, again being simple but offering enough variety and wonder to make you want to get deeper into the game for more than just the sake of completion.
Lara Croft GO continues to impress after its jump from mobile to PlayStation
The PlayStation versions of these games allow the game’s audio and visuals to come to life even more than before, with both the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita versions looking and sounding terrific. The real value in picking up the PlayStation versions (you get both with cross-buy and cross-save is also supported) is the sheer amount of levels that are being offered here. The initial game received free updates that added more levels to the adventure, but this version has over 100 levels thanks to the new Mirror of Spirits expansion (available first for PlayStation gamers). Speaking of which, the Mirror of Spirits expansion is a great addition to this game’s impressive amount of levels, incorporating new mirror mechanics mixed with a change of pace in visuals and audio that are very unique compared to what has come before.
This is all done without a traditional narrative, which is one area where fans of the main series may be let down a little. The focus is entirely on gameplay here, though that doesn’t mean that there isn’t some semblance of an overall conflict going throughout the journey. Lara is of course on the hunt for big treasure and must go through increasingly-deadly ruins in order to gain her prize, but there is an evil presence looming over the adventure that does add a bit of suspense to the mix. The storytelling is done more so in a suggested and visual manor here, and it works well.
The game never lays on its puzzle mechanics too thickly, either. It has been designed in a way that each level can be completed in a few minutes at most, with many of them being far quicker. However, the game is just challenging enough where trial and error gameplay remains the key to overcoming the hazards the game throws at you. It’s very forgiving with its checkpoint system and respawn times are quick, which keeps the overall aggravation factor of repeated deaths to a minimum. There are always new and unforeseen traps waiting for poor Lara to fall victim to, and failing over and over until you come up with the solution to get past them is all part of the game’s addictive loop.
It also offers some decent replay value that caters to hardcore Tomb Raider fans, as well. The aforementioned hidden treasures that are scattered about the levels will eventually unlock new outfits for Lara, which are taken from previous games in the series and even other Square Enix properties. It’s great to be able throw on outfits from earlier games like the catsuit or the wetsuit, and actually being able to find all of the hidden treasures to do so is a rewarding challenge of its own.
The reverence for the series’ past in both gameplay and the attention to the smaller details is what ultimately makes Lara Croft GO a love letter to the 20-year-old Tomb Raider series. It offers even more of what the original game did last year and with the added benefits of more powerful hardware, making this a no-brainer for PlayStation gamers.
Lara Croft GO: PS4 Edition
- Available On: PS4, PS Vita, PC, iOS, Android
- Published By: Square Enix
- Developed By: Square Enix Montreal
- Genre: Puzzle
- US Release Date: December 3rd, 2016
- Reviewed On: PS4, PS Vita
- Quote: "The reverence for the series’ past in both gameplay and the attention to the smaller details is what ultimately makes Lara Croft GO a love letter to the 20-year-old Tomb Raider series. It offers even more of what the original game did last year and with the added benefits of more powerful hardware, making this a no-brainer for PlayStation gamers."