The image of a solar eclipse is all over the marketing for Shadow of the Tomb Raider, but that's not the only shadow being cast in the new game. The two previous games in the current Tomb Raider series have seen Lara Croft go through a series of physically brutal and emotionally exhausting events. She's come out the other side stronger for it, but Shadow of the Tomb Raider Game Director Daniel Chayer-Bisson explained to me in an interview at PAX West 2018 that the events of the previous two games have certainly had an impact on Lara. She's become hyper-focused as well as hyper-serious because she's more comfortable fighting for her life than she is having a casual conversation. There is a shadow hanging over Lara herself, which the events of the new game will slowly cause to fade away. According to Chayer-Bisson...
The beginning's dark, because she makes a mistake of global threat so it is dark, but as you advance it's going to become lighter and lighter because that's the shadow, the eclipse. It's important to see this contrast.
Normally, in any sort of action story like this, things start off as light as they're going to get, before slowing going from bad to worse. However, in the case of Shadow of the Tomb Raider, the shit will hit the fan early, and the story will see Lara slowing climbing out of it towards the light. This the real shadow of the Tomb Raider. The world ending catastrophe is what happens to her, but the story is really about Lara becoming a complete person without the shadow hanging over her.
This is probably best exemplified by Lara's interaction with people in Shadow of the Tomb Raider. One thing you'll be able to do in Shadow that you weren't really able to do in previous games was have simple conversations with NPCs. It turns out, Lara isn't very good at it. Daniel Chayer-Bisson told me this idea came from the fact that the developers themselves were having trouble figuring out what Lara would do when faced with simply talking to people.
She spends all her time with dead people and everything try and kill her... But what happens if you just take her, put her in a cafe scene just talking about whatever but not about archeology or saving the world? What would she say? We were struggling, we didn't know.
If you think about it, we've never seen Lara Croft talk to anybody about anything that wasn't directly related to her quest. In the end, the developers realized that if they didn;t know what Lara would do in that scenario, then neither did she. However, over the course of Shadow of the Tomb Raider, she will begin to get more comfortable. We may ever hear Lara Croft crack a couple of jokes before the end of the game. What would that even sound like? We'll find out when Shadow of the Tomb Raider arrives September 14.