Classic Tomb-Raiding Gameplay Sold Separately
Believe it or not, I actually decided to play this game – after it had been kicking around my downloaded collection unused for a while – because I wanted to get a few Tomb Raider games cleared, and in chronological order. In retrospect, that was a pretty silly notion; this game quite literally has nothing to do with Tomb Raider aside from Lara’s name in the title.
Let’s start with the most obvious departure from the classic Tomb Raider formula: Guardian of Light is an isometric platformer, with some twin-stick elements thrown in there. It reminds me a whole hell of a lot of the (admittedly good) game from a few years ago, Crimson Alliance. Both in style and substance, the two games are very much alike. And, like this other game, Guardian of Light embraces entirely an out-and-out focus on action over actual tomb raiding.
Many moons ago, when I was just playing the original Tomb Raider on my PlayStation, I remember describing it to my grandma (who was good enough to pretend to listen and care about what I must have been insisting on sharing with her) as a game where, instead of having to defeat enemies, you actually have to defeat the environment. Horribly blocky graphics notwithstanding, I feel that the essence of Tomb Raider has always been in exploration of exotic places first, actiony platforming sequences second. And while there isn’t a ton of platforming in this release, there’s nary a moment when Lara isn’t lobbing spears in all directions, exploding bombs, shooting rocket launchers, and blasting her trademark twin handguns at a plethora of adversaries, all in the name of archaeology.
The game controls smoothly, there’s no denying that. And the action works well, I suppose. But to be honest, it ultimately didn’t really matter to me. Lacking the core of what makes a Tomb Raider game, this really just became a generic action platformer. Actually, I would have preferred it if it were a more generic game, as there are some cool ideas at play (puzzles, oversize bosses) that would have made an enjoyable, if short, stint in a new IP. But as a supposed entry into Lara Croft’s long-running canon, it kinda fizzled out on me.
It is designed as a two-player game, with the second player taking on the role of the titular Guardian of Light, but I never even bothered to try and find someone to join in with me, and I unceremoniously uninstalled it upon finishing, so there’s little chance I’ll play a local co-op game at any point. So, I suppose I’m done with this game. But…I think I’m okay with that.