T is for Tomb Raider



The aim of my Blogging From A to Z Challenge is to find the origins of online games, some relatively modern and some with ancient roots. Gaming might well be a modern take on an art that is almost timeless – storytelling. A perfect excuse for a writer to delve a little deeper.

[Visit here for links to other A to Z participants.]

Game: Rise of the Tomb Raider is an engrossing action-adventure video game that promises and delivers. It is the sequel to the 2013 video game Tomb Raider, a reboot of the franchise of the same name.

Release Date: Xbox 360, Xbox One – November 2015; Microsoft Windows – 28 January 2016; PlayStation 4 – 11 October 2016; macOS – 12 April 2018; Linux – 2018.

Developer: Crystal Dynamics

Publisher: Square Enix

Genre/gameplay mechanics: 3rd-person controlling Lara Croft through various environments, battling enemies, and completing puzzle platforming sections, while using improvised weapons and gadgets to progress; semi-open world; open hub zones with resources and side missions; crafting system allows player to create items like different arrow types; combat options including stealth and sneak attacks; quick time events and dodging to avoid deadly traps.

Setting: Siberia – via a snow-bound Soviet-era mining installation as a base of operations to the lost city of Kitezh under a glacier. Realistic and atmospheric.

Storytelling: Builds on 2013 Tomb Raider storyline so strong storyline. Lara Croft turns to her late father’s research into the lost city of Kitezh and the promise of immortality. Lara organises an expedition to Syria, hoping to uncover the tomb of the Prophet of Constantinople, a key figure in the legend of Kitezh. Although successful, the tomb is empty, and Lara is interrupted by Trinity—an ancient order of knights that now exists as a paramilitary organization investigating the supernatural—and their leader Konstantin. Discoveries prompt Lara to go to Siberia, where events unfold.

Releases + Expansions:

  1. The Baba Yaga: The Temple of the Witch DLC sees Lara investigating a disturbance within the Soviet mining facility.
  2. The Cold Darkness Awakened DLC sees Lara enter a decommissioned Soviet weapons bunker that has been breached by a Trinity patrol.

Sequels: On 15 March 2018, the third game in the rebooted series, Shadow of the Tomb Raider was officially confirmed by Square Enix. It will serve as the third and final game in the rebooted origin story. It is currently set to be fully revealed on 27 April 2018 and released worldwide on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows on 14 September 2018.

Formats: Xbox 360, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, macOS, Linux

Origins (Chronological):

  1. 2013 – Tomb Raider is the tenth title in the Tomb Raider franchise. Rather than a sequel, the team decided to completely reboot the series, re-establishing the origins of Lara Croft for the second time, following Tomb Raider: LegendTomb Raider is set on Yamatai, an island from which Lara, who is untested and not yet the battle-hardened explorer she is in other titles in the series, must save her friends and escape while being hunted down by a malevolent cult.
  2. 1993 – Core Design, began to develop Lara Croft as the lead protagonist for its 1996 video game Tomb Raider. Lead graphic artist Toby Gard went through about five designs before arriving at the character’s final appearance with inspiration that included pop artist Neneh Cherry, comic book character Tank Girl, the film Hard Boiled and an Æon Flux He settled on a tough South American woman with a braid named Laura Cruz. Eidos management preferred a more “UK friendly” name and selected Lara Croft from similar-sounding British names found in an English telephone directory.
  3. 1981 – Raiders of the Lost Ark: although developers wanted to avoid being derivative, Lara Croft must share some of her origins with those explored in my Indiana Jones
  4. However, there were many notable female explorers and archaeologists in the 20th century and earlier. This Pinterest board on Women Explorers in History illustrates the breadth, as does this post on Biographies, which includes:
  5. 1831-1892 – Amelia B. Edwards was an English novelist, journalist, traveller and Egyptologist. Her most successful literary works included the Egyptian travelogue A Thousand Miles up the Nile (1877), which described her 1873–1874 voyage. In 1882, she co-founded the Egypt Exploration Fund (now the Egypt Exploration Society).
  6. 1776-1839 – Lady Hester Stanhope was a British socialite, adventurer and traveller. Her archaeological expedition to Ashkelon in 1815 is considered the first modern excavation in the history of Holy Land archaeology. Her use of a medieval Italian document is described as “one of the earliest uses of textual sources by field archaeologists”.

Adaptations set in the ‘Tomb Raider’ universe numerous from the video games to the 2018 film – include:          

  1. VIDEO GAMES – there have been eleven main title games to date, and the twelfth, Shadow of the Tomb Raider is due out on 14 September 2018.
  2. FILMS – there have been three including the 2018 movie which received mixed reviews, but Matt Zoller Seitz said, “Although it borrows from the game (and, partially, its sequel) for structure and most of its key action sequences, “Tomb Raider” never feels like a pointless companion piece to a work that was created for a different medium.” And his final words intrigue me, “and a female hero who’s as elegant as she is deadly: an ass-kicking Audrey Hepburn.”
  3. COMICS – The original series of comics, which were released between 1999 and 2005, was published by Top Cow and were primarily based on the games released by Core Design. In 2014, following the reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise, the series was revived and is currently being published by Dark Horse Comics. The new timeline of events is based on the rebooted iteration of Lara Croft and her adventures.
  4. NOVELS – Four official novels have been written. The first three, set within the original timeline, were published between 2003 and 2005 – The Amulet of Power, The Lost Cult and The Man of Bronze. Another novel set within the 2013 reboot timeline, Tomb Raider: The Ten Thousand Immortals, was published in 2014 as a continuation of the original story. A fifth book, titled Lara Croft and the Blade of Gwynnever was published in late 2016 and is a stand-alone adventure


Recommendation: Rise of the Tomb Raider was critically acclaimed. GameSpot’s Mike Mahardy lauded the believability of the game’s characters, as well as the addition of more tombs and the variety of options in combat. He concluded that “Crystal Dynamics has found equilibrium in almost every way.” Lucy O’Brien of IGN praised the depiction of Lara and the world design. She claimed that the game is “the most fun I’ve had with a Lara Croft game since 1996” and stated that it “takes its predecessor’s winning formula and improves on it in every way”. Metacritic gave it an average score of 86/100 on Xbox and PC. In August 2016, Rise of the Tomb Raider placed 18th on Time’s The 50 Best Video Games of All Time list.

4.8 Stars: I never played Tomb Raider until very recently, daunted by the puzzles, death-defying jumps and elements that I believed put it beyond my gaming abilities. Attempting an Assassin’s Creed game, my failings were confirmed. But Rise of the Tomb Raider has reversed my thoughts – and my rating reflects that. Not only have the settings felt realistic and immersive, the storyline kept me engrossed and the game kept me entertained, but also the gameplay has been straightforward – once I had discovered the basic tricks. Just forget about my ability to kill dangerous wildlife IF Lara gets cornered.

  1. Setting: 4.75*
  2. Storyline: 4.75*
  3. Gameplay: 5*
  4. Entertainment: 4.75*
  5. Genesis: 4.75*

Alternative ‘T’ thoughts:

T is also for another favourite movie The Truman Show (1998), but there was no video game.

+ ‘T’ Games played: Tantra

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