Isometric-view co-op games aren’t so uncommon thesedays, not when Diablo III still reigns supreme, holding a massive fan base with imitators clamoring for favor. But returning to the isometric-perspective template was Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, although after watching the feisty treasure hunter’s personality shine in 2013’s Tomb Raider reboot, things seemed a bit disappointing at first.
But that all changed when Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris was released last month, reminding us that the series is all about energetic adventure through visually stunning locations and dangerous, labyrinthine ruins. This story-light, puzzle-laden, co-op adventure is almost as essential as Lara’s third-person expeditions.
As you might expect, Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris is set deep in the deserts of Egypt. In her latest excursion, Lara must join forces with rival raider Carter Bell afteraccidentally awakening the evil Egyptian god Set.
As Lara and company fight the elements of nature across the harsh desert and through mystic ancient tombs, they will also battle legendary deities and creatures of myth. With the fate of the world in their hands, Lara must recover the fragments of Osiris to stop Set from enslaving all mankind.
In Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris, the level design and pacing is much better compared to Guardian of Light. This one is an excellent combination of combat, frantic chases, mind-numbing puzzle sequences and narrow escapes, with some truly stunning scenes, pulling back from Lara and companions for an extra sense of scale. The bird’s eye view is also worth noting, allowing for more easily discernible puzzle elements. The problems presented and the tools available are clear, placing the focus on logic and eliminating the worry that a hidden lever or switch is required to move forward in the game. There are plenty of puzzles to solve, too!
The basic tools and equipment available to Lara are guns, bombs, torches, and a grappling hook. Replacing Totec’s spear from Guardian of Light is a magical staff that works like a catch-all trigger for any environmental item with a particular rune marking. This new item raises and lowers platforms, slows down ticking time bombs, alters the rotational speed of gears, fires a damaging beam of light, and more. Lara can wield this along with most of her other tools, creating interesting combos to use in various tombs.
Through all of the tombs, Lara and her companions will face many different challenges, all of which have tangible benefits. Many of the weapons available are locked behind achieving a high score, and rings and amulets that provide stat bonuses are rewarded for completing certain tasks exclusive to a certain tomb. These trinkets can be mixed and matched, helping Lara and her party and giving you a better chance of getting through the game. And, like in Guardian of Light, there are more red skulls to uncover, although this time, they come with thematic Egyptian headdresses.
The visuals show more flair this time, and while the game isn’t as visually stunning as Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition in terms of details and scenery, it manages to use the power of the next-gen consoles in dynamic lighting effects, water effects, and large-scale destruction.
Just like Guardian of Light, Temple of Osiris can be played either solo or co-op, and you can have up to four players on the same console or playing online. The former works best in terms of ease in discussing tactics and possible puzzle solutions with your party members, and the fun factor is higher. As for the online platform, you’ll be stuck with a single view that zooms in and out to keep all the players visible, which can be quite confusing and overwhelming.
There are multiplayer solutions to a lot of puzzles, but organizing them can be tricky. And while the alternative heroes all come with their own sets of skills, it might take some getting used to, especially if you’re accustomed to playing as Lara. Co-op mode can be a fun and exciting thing, but even with an efficient match-making system, online isn’t the best option to enjoy the game.
So far, Temple of Osiris is looking good as a successor to Guardian of Light. More players can join in on the fun, there are more weapons and trinkets to be had, and it’s more visually appealing. But the strength of this game is that it really doesn’t take itself so seriously, and that it leaves you to get on with what people used to love about the series: the sense of adventure, the glamor and mysticism, and a different kind of fun only Lara Croft can bring.
The weakness lies in its wafer-thin endeavor, and that if you’re a hardcore fan of the series, you’ve probably already seen it all and played it all before. And while there’s plenty of replay value in its myriad of collectibles and challenges (not to mention the highly addictive co-op play), there’s nothing much beyond that. You could easily work your way through the game in a day or two.
Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris is a lightweight but delightful adventure game following the footsteps of classic Tomb Raider games. It’s not all that deep and innovative, but it’s a perfect balance of combat, puzzle-solving, and exploration, with the third-person visuals and level design work far better than in Guardian of Light.
What makes this game stand out, at least from a mechanical standpoint, is that it feels not like a button-mashing display of otherworldly power, but more like a true adventure. It’s more about the wonder of mystical places and the pleasure of solving puzzles than just firing guns and eliminating the rising undead.
Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris may not be perfect, but we highly recommend it to hardcore fans of the game series, as well as to those who are looking for some high-octane, mind-bendingadventure gaming experience. It’s a slick and entertaining game that’s both lovable and amusing. It’s more than enough to keep us going for this year’s release of Rise of the Tomb Raider.
Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris is available on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.