In 2013 we witnessed the re-imagining of Lara Croft who brought with her a darker side to the Tomb Raider series. Even though this Lara was a deeper, more developed character, there is always going to be room for the classic Croft we grew up with.
The folks at Crystal Dynamics had something cooking over the past couple of years and have come up with a follow up to 2010’s Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light. A departure from the 3rd person adventure series, Guardian of Light focused on action and played like a twin stick shooter. Avoiding traps, solving puzzles and gunning down enemies, it had little room for story and was built on the tropes of the original Tomb Raider character that we had come to love.
Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris is another great chapter of these side stories in the Tomb Raider series. It isn't going to deliver the same effect as a proper Tomb Raider title, but it’s still great if you are looking for a more pulpy adventure with our favorite Tomb Raider.
Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris takes our heroine to the pyramids of Egypt. An ancient temple dedicated to the god Osiris is at the heart of her journey. A rival archaeologist causes a mishap and together they wake up the evil deity Set, the one responsible for Osiris' death. The two soon become four as they are joined by Horus and Isis, children of Osiris, and the group is tasked with resurrecting Osiris all while trying to stop Set from destroying the world.
It is important to realize the story here is doled out in short cut scenes and banter between the character. It is like a pulp movie with a focus on the action with the story being secondary to everything else. It is effective, and makes for a fun experience that you don't have to pay too much attention to. Again, these side tales aren't meant to develop the Tomb Raider characters but merely act as a vessel to which one can live out an Indiana Jones fantasy.
Each of the characters are playable for up to four player co-op, double what we saw in Guardian of Light. Two local friends can pair up for local co-op, four player combo co-op, or regular four player online co-op. Playing through half of the game solo and half with a partner, I can say the co-op is the strongest feature of these Lara Croft games but it also comes with some downfalls.
With the party being tethered to one another, the camera pulls back as far as it can go until one player is stuck on the edge of the screen. This can lead to some tricky platforming with the camera being the most dubious culprit contributing to deaths. There is little consequence to dying, so the top down camera is simply a nuisance when playing with a larger group. Most of the time the camera works but sometimes just goes a little wonky chasing players around.
When the action gets chaotic it is easy to lose track of your player. Often I was searching for the colored circle representing my player amidst the gunfire and hordes of enemies on screen. Tombs can become cluttered with debris and when things are exploding, expect to die quite a bit unless you mash on the dodge button during these tristes. Between the chaos and the camera I'm curious as to why the player count was bumped from two to four. With four players we experienced some weird technical issues while playing online as well, this included disconnects and de-syncs.
That being said, I was impressed with the scaling of the tombs to the number of players present. Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris splits the levels into temples which are connected through a hub world. The layout and puzzles within each temple change depending on your party, giving the game some interesting replay value.
Your time spent in the temples are divided between puzzles and combat. The combat involves twin stick style shooting using a large variety of weapons. Couple this with dodging and triggering bombs and the action holds up well enough. What shines in Temple of Osiris are the puzzles, especially when they become increasingly more difficult with every friend that joins your expedition.
I went back through a number of the temples, most notably the challenge tombs which are extra difficult. Locations I completed with a partner had been changed so they could be solved solo, and when I had a foursome rolling with the Co-Opticrew the same temples could only be traversed with a full group of four. An interesting choice and some crafty design shined through during these moments.
The puzzles themselves are smart and satisfying on their own, however Temple of Osiris contains an unnecessary loot system. Killing enemies, destroying priceless pots, and completing objectives all feed the player gems. Gems can be spent to open treasure chests rewarding the player with artifacts which grant bonuses to a variety of attributes. While it is cool to have some customization, the loot system felt out of place, especially since the game isn't all that difficult. There is little variation of items and they are simply not interesting enough for me to seek out extra gems to open more chests.
Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris is a great throwback adventure. It doesn't take itself too seriously and gives players what they want; a campy, exciting, quick adventure reminiscent of Lara Croft's earlier tales. Despite an uninspired loot system and a quirky camera, this is perfect for those seeking a fun romp with a friend. Temple of Osiris won't have the same effect on the series as the 2013 reboot, but it is a great pickup and well worth your time.