Lara Croft is back, kicking butt across an isometric playground filled with demons and darkness, just like in The Guardian of Light. Fans of the original spin-off title will feel instantly at home exploring The Temple of Osiris, fighting off alligators in terrible wigs and solving “puzzles” that tend to involve rolling around giant balls. It’s just as fun as it was first time around – even if the temple feels fairly well raided already.
The game begins when Lara and her new buddy Carter accidentally touch something that they shouldn’t in a newly opened tomb, and become cursed by an evil Egyptian god – always a risk when you’re looking to steal things off dead people. Along with the sinister Set, mother and son team Isis and Horus are plunged into the mix, helping our favourite archaeologist/butler bully to escape the curse.
With a total of four playable characters, this game is unsurprisingly best played with friends. The levels change depending on how many people you have on your team, which is a nice way of keeping things balanced and fresh. Getting through a level alone is no more difficult than doing it with three others, although obviously you’ll miss out on half of the experience if you tackle it by yourself.
The story and voice acting never really get off the ground, and most of the interest comes from the original myth itself. To add to that, Lara doesn’t especially feel like an important part of events; like Spyro in the Skylanders games, Croft is just one of many playable characters, and her personality is somewhat watered down to allow for the three new stars to have their space. You can finish the entire game without even using her, if that’s what you want to do.
Levels are linear, although there’s room to look around and find bonus items if you want to drag things out. With very few exceptions, it never feels like you’re going to get lost, or even like you’ll need to think very much. Once you’ve got to grips with the mechanics, it’s really just a case of whipping out your best moves at the right time. This is probably the title’s greatest fault: it’s far too short and far too easy.
You’re never going to spend too much time thinking your way through a room, and even when you’re being swarmed by enemies, you’re unlikely to break a sweat. The combat controls feel great, with you obtaining complete 360-degree control at all times; there are no annoying bugs like in Dead Nation, where enemies or players can get stuck on bits of debris.
But with that level of control comes the feeling that things never really heat up. There are difficult moments, and you’re almost certainly going to die throughout, but there’s literally no punishment for messing up. That’s better than having to play the whole level again, but it’s not ideal.
Variances in gameplay largely consist of new weapons. There’s a lot to unlock as you play through, including rings that offer new or improved skills in return for reduced stats in other areas. While the puzzles themselves recycle the same three or four different types, then – getting slightly more complex as you progress – the fights are infinitely more flexible, if only because you can choose whether to blow away Set’s foot soldiers with everything from grenade launchers to automatic shotguns.
And blast you shall, through all four or five hours’ worth of gameplay. You can come back, see the game in different ways with a changing number of players, and you might even aim to collect everything and complete every level’s challenges, but for all intents and purposes, you’ll be done in a single, decently involved session.
Design-wise, the different temples are built around weather and elements. You’ll burn gas torches in one, while another will have you dodging alligators. It’s a nice way to break up the monotony, but it’s a mask for very similarly laid out areas. No particular tomb stands out as especially different from the rest, except in terms of visuals.
And, in many ways, one of the game’s best features is its graphics. Simple touches, like trees blowing in the wind, help it to distinguish itself as a next-gen title – even if everything else feels very much in line with what The Guardian of Light was capable of. Generally short loading times are very much appreciated as well, especially when you start exploring the shorter bonus tombs.
Bosses are probably where the gameplay and visuals are at their most effective, combining simple puzzle solving, excellent, striking design, and action all into short five minute bursts, where you’ll fight your way through hordes of enemies, pick where best to strike, and do it to the best of your ability. These still aren’t generally going to cause you too much trouble, but you’ll be enjoying the experience too much to worry about the difficulty. Unfortunately, the rest of the game doesn’t quite live up to those standards.
Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris is a decent game, especially with friends – but it’ll never surprise you. The basic mechanics work well, but you’ll struggle to shake off the feeling that they could have been utilised so much more effectively. With no plot and no great rewards, you’ll be playing just for the sake of getting to the end, which won’t be enough to hold everybody’s attention through to its premature conclusion.