The next full Tomb Raider release might not be coming until next year, but the iconic female explorer is back in this casual arcade shooter that hopes to appease fans whilst they wait. Following on from the decent Lara Croft and The Guardian of Light, does this add anything new to the isometric format? Read on to find out.
Game: Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris
Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Publisher: Square Enix
Anyone who has played Square Enix’s reboot will know the slightly new direction the protagonist has taken since the block-tastic days of Lara’s original outings. This adventure does, however, hark back to older times where Lara Croft was the tough, wise-cracking explorer as opposed to the slightly fragile and vulnerable version the most recent full game. There’s more actual tombs, too. In typical fashion, Lara’s out to grab valuable trinkets and treasure from the darkest depths, but in doing so disturbs an ancient Egyptian god who sets out to make everyones life as difficult as inhumanly possible.
Whilst the narrative is pretty forgettable it does what it sets out to do – give a little substance to the gameplay, which is clearly the primary focus in Temple of Osiris. Essentially it’s an isometric platformer with plenty of shooting and puzzling thrown in; any comparisons to old arcade titles or even any of the Lego games wouldn’t be completely misplaced. This outing is also pure action rather than a combination of mechanics, with the different areas interlocked together and all of them offering some nice, clean graphical touches. It feels good to tackle the game from such a wide perspective and it certainly lends itself to puzzling elements by giving you that large field of view.
Temple of Osiris is an enjoyable single player romp, but it comes more into its own when played co-operatively. The mild difficulty of puzzles are expanded depending on how many others you play with, and the game grows more difficult and more rewarding with every additional player. Different characters hold slightly different traits that aid each other that might be a force field or an ability to traverse grapple hook lines, and it works well for the most part making everyone feel like they’ve played their part when the pay-outs start rolling. The multiplayer aspects are playable offline and online and are genuinely rewarding to play – preferable to single player actually – depending on the amount of people you can muster together.
There’s a few twists on combat and gameplay mechanics. You can, at any time, switch out your trusty side arms for the Staff of Osiris that shoots a beam of mystical light in a straight line depending on where you’re pointing your twin-sticks. Not only does this hurt enemies but it works as a puzzle-tool, helping you close gigantic beam-shooting eyes to open doors or guide light around via mirrors to find treasure and loot. When you do find that loot you’ll partake in mad scrambles to grab it before your team mates, adding yet another fun piece of mayhem to the fast paced action. You’ll find a level of role-play in-game aswell, though. Apart from upgrading via gems, the odd customisation such as amulets and new weapons can be equipped to offer boosts and more power, but in all honesty it feels a little tacked-on despite being a welcome addition, never-the-less.
Temple of Osiris definitely builds on Guardian of Light but it remains nothing more than a complementary addition to the franchise that doesn’t really demand long-term replay and won’t set you back more than 5-6 hours if a single play through is all you accomplish. The multiplayer aspects alone definitely raise the value of the game, however. Solving the more difficult puzzles and defeating bosses with friends is rewarding and if you yearn for the Lara of old, Temple of Osiris can definitely be recommended, just take it as it is – a fun, casual, time burner – and you’ll find plenty to enjoy.