I recently did a video review of Rise of the Tomb Raider which you can watch above or through this link: Rise of the Tomb Raider Video Review. This will be my written review and it will be largely the same as my video review.
So let’s start with what’s good about Rise of the Tomb Raider.
It has stealth! And it does it very well. While the stealth mechanics is actually quite simple, it was very enjoyable regardless. The level design have some verticality to them which makes sneaking up and ambushing enemies very fun. The use of items like gasoline cans and bottles to your advantage also add another layer to the combat, especially when stealthing. I took it upon myself to go undetected as long as possible while thinning their troops.
It also has a great flow of action, combat to puzzle platforming and exploration. One of the few titles that actually deserves to be called an Action Adventure game. The optional tombs give you a nice break between the resource gathering and story missions while giving you a nice reward at the end of each tomb. Puzzles are forgiving but challenging and really is a nice break from the action.
And I did mention resource gathering as this game has crafting. Which is very simple but is worthwhile as you get to craft better items and weapons. It’s not overbearing until all you focus on is crafting and is a nice touch to add yet another layer to the game.
Like the 2013 reboot, the Zelda-like mechanic of acquiring new equipment through the story which opens up areas in previous locations makes a return. While backtracking can be seen as tedious, it’s actually not all bad in Rise of the Tomb Raider with its fast travel system and the litters of fast travel camps. Makes the backtracking more tolerable and it’s there’s a sense of adventure when you go back to a previous location and discover a new area.
Finally, it does a great mix of open world areas and linear story levels. Open areas are littered with resources to gather, baddies to take out and treasure to find while the linear story levels have great set pieces a la the Uncharted series which is not overdone. You will get excited when you’re running through a set piece as it doesn’t happen all too often.
While the story is interesting – as I always like stories that involves secret powerful organizations controlling all the strings behind the scenes – the story was very predictable except for maybe one or two parts. The writing and voice acting was good though so that’s a plus. But you literally can see things happening a mile away.
The non-linear nature of the game – while contributing to the game’s entire fun factor – breaks the flow of the plot. It’s definitely a problem that most open world non-linear games have but it’s still just weird when an NPC tells you to get ready for an attack and you’re out gathering mushrooms and hunting fucking rabbits.
Rise of the Tomb Raider is a shorter than I anticipated it would be. I played 28 hours and got up to 97% completion rate (side stuff included). It felt like I was playing for much longer than that though. But it’s still a good number of hours and the experience was very compact, there was barely a break when I was playing. Add to that the ability to replay chapters or play one off missions, it can be considered quite a lot of content for some of you.
There is only one negative that I got from Rise of the Tomb Raider and it’s not really anything to do with the game but more of the financial decision by Square Enix. There’s an Endurance mode that you can buy as DLC. It adds the ability to play it like a survival game where resources are scarce, the cold will kill you etc. Something a lot of people will enjoy. But to put a game mode behind a pay wall? That’s just low. I understand putting additional content behind a pay wall, but game modes have no place being sold as DLC.
So I’ll just end the review by summarizing how I felt when playing Rise of the Tomb Raider. It gave me the feeling that I was an actual adventurer, that this world is for me to explore and discover its secrets. A lot of action adventure games does a lot of action but little to no adventure. This game has the latter, and damn was it very good. I highly recommend getting Rise of the Tomb Raider, it’s certainly one of the better games I’ve played in the past 3 years.