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Remember when the Tomb Raider series didn’t take itself quite so seriously? Lara Croft used to be all about environmental puzzles, guns aplenty, massive monsters and plots that let her take down ancient gods. While the grittier Tomb Raider games certainly hold their own in the action/adventure genre, it’s nice to know that the Lara Croft series continues to carry the torch for earlier series entries; one lit with a spark of ridiculous action and an abundance of adrenaline-charged fun. And that’s exactly what you’ll get in the twin-stick shooter series’ second offering, Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris.
It feels a bit odd calling the Lara Croft games “twin-stick shooters” but, at their core, that’s exactly what they are. What sets something like Temple of Osiris apart from games like Super Stardust or Geometry Wars is the fact that, along with moving with one stick and shooting with the other, your characters have a wide range of abilities to help them get through the adventure, including rolling about, dropping explosive, climbing up cliffs, leaping across ravines and using your special abilities, such as whipping out a torch or creating a glowing shield for friends to hide behind or use to reach a higher ledge.
Since Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is one of my favorite cooperative experiences from the previous generation, to say I was eagerly anticipating its unexpected follow-up, Temple of Osiris, is something of an understatement. The original game packed in a lot of clever puzzle solving and plenty of old school Tomb Raider action with a brand new spin put on those classic formulas. Thankfully, Temple of Osiris continues that trend admirably, with my only real complaint being that I wanted a bit more of everything on offer.
Like its predecessor, Temple of Osiris is a 2.5D adventure that sees Mrs. Croft and her cohorts spelunking through a handful of temples in order to defeat a ticked off celestial figure and save the world from a fate most foul. This time around, Lara and one of her tomb-raiding cohorts (Carter Bell) are joined by a pair of Egyptian gods (Horus and Isis) who have a bone to pick with this outing’s big bad, the dog-headed trickster, Set. Set basically dismembered Osiris way back in the day and now it’s your job to unite his statuesque pieces in order to resurrect the god and let him teach Set a lesson. For those of you who are bad at math, that means that four players can go on this new adventure, as opposed to the two player limitation put on Guardian of Light.
If I’m being honest, I’m not sure that was a wise decision. The game scales to the number of players joining in on the action, which means things can get pretty hectic when four people are trying to wrangle a ridiculous number of scarabs or navigate an already crowded, trap-filled sprinting section of the game. Even the landscape scales, meaning that a solo player can actually solve all of the puzzles by their lonesome. Add in another player or two, and additional walls, switches, etc. are changed in order to force cooperation. While that’s all well and good for a two player game, I can’t help but wonder if another few temples could have been crafted rather than tweaking the game for more players. I’m sure there are folks out there who love the four-player experience, but I feel like two players is more or less perfect for this type of experience.
This time around, Lara and Co. will have to navigate a big hub world in order to locate the game’s nine main temples and five challenge temples. The hub world is actually a nifty addition, with helpful statues pointing the way to your next main goal if you get lost, a weather-changing mechanism to open up certain areas and treasure chests, as well as the hub’s own platforming challenges and hidden trinkets to uncover.
Along with a handful of boss fights spread out along the way, each temple will require players to carefully maneuver through trap-infested corridors, leap from pillar to pillar, solve puzzles and blow up a whole bunch of undead enemies. Like in the previous outing, you’ll discover all sorts of extra weapons along the way, as well as rings and necklaces that grant stat effects to help craft a character all your own. The gold you earn can also be used to unlock a ridiculous number of treasure chests and, the more you spend, the more likely you are to get an especially rare piece of loot.
Each level also comes complete with a wide array of challenges, including bonuses for earning a certain number of points, finishing the level in a certain amount of time, finding all of the crystal skulls and the like. For completionists, that means you’ll have plenty of reasons to head back into each dungeon time and time again.
Outside of the regular dungeons are the optional challenge dungeons, featuring puzzles that range from decently challenging to hair-pullingly difficult. Your reward for clearing these temples is usually a shiny new firearm and/or a stat boost for all party members. Like the main temples, I would have enjoyed seeing a few more of these bad boys peppered throughout the game, as the story proper will only take you about half a dozen hours to clear the first time through. Sure, that time will be stretched for those who want to tackle all of the challenges, community trials and the like, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that Temple of Osiris wrapped up well before it overstayed its welcome. There are more temples coming via DLC, but that comes as an additional cost on top of the game’s $20 price point.
Then again, if my only complaint is that I wanted more of a game, then it’s clear that said game was getting a lot of things right. And that’s absolutely the case for Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris. The game plays it extremely safe, offering more of what I loved about Guardian of Light rather than changing up the formula too much, and that’s pretty much exactly what I wanted out of this first sequel. Harkening back to the Tomb Raider games of old, there’s lots to love here. The puzzles are clever, the platforming is fun and, assuming you have a friend along for the adventure, the cooperative play is a delight. The fact that you get to shoot giant insects and cranky crocodiles along the way only sweetens an already delicious concoction.
This review based on a PlayStation 4 download copy of the game provided by the publisher.
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Publisher: Square Enix