Thursday’s Square Enix event in London showcased the forthcoming Shadow of the Tomb Raider, which is being billed as the conclusion to Lara Croft’s origin trilogy. The event provided the first hands-on experience with the game, and the consensus feeling is that the finale of Croft’s formative adventures plays much like its predecessors while carrying a much darker tone.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider follows Croft’s attempts to save the world from an impending Mayan apocalypse through the usual tomb traversal and combat, but the game also displays a desire to explore a darkness within Croft. The series has chronicled her development from an inexperienced explorer to a skilled survivalist and killer, and that development carries convictions and conflicts that she must confront. This internal struggle will play a pivotal role in the game’s narrative, though some doubt persists around the coexistence of such personal introspection and the act of killing a copious amount of enemies.
The darkness isn’t contained to Croft’s psyche, as the segment of the game that was playable depicted Croft moving through a Dia de los Muertos celebration to a Mayan tomb where she unknowingly triggers a flood after snagging a dagger, devastating the area. The flood appears to be the first stage of an apocalypse triggered by Croft’s theft, and the demo ended with her taking in the devastation she unknowingly caused. It’s a striking scene that hints at just how deep into the macabre the game will go.
There does appear to be some concern with how the title will pull off a narrative that intends to be as striking and meaningful as this one. The bar has definitely been raised in recent years, and the dissonance between the action and story could easily be highlighted without deft navigation. For now, we must wait and see, but the wait won’t last much longer. Shadow of the Tomb Raider launches on September 14.
Check out the game’s latest trailer below.