Lara Croft GO Preview

Swipe right. There’s a giant snake. Swipe left.

Hot off the success of their previous mobile title, Hitman GO, Square-Enix Montréal is looking to bring another miniaturized property to your tablet or cell phone with Lara Croft GO. And even though it’s only just been announced, like its predecessor, it’s looking quite clean, polished, and fun. If you’re at all hesitant about trying a smaller (in file size alone) version of one of your favorite IPs, or if you’re some kind of elitist prick who doesn’t think mobile games “count” as video games, I recommend keeping this on your radar.

Like the last game, Lara Croft GO is a turn-based approach to the gameplay of its console sibling. Croft must explore, y’know, tombs and such, one swipe at a time. Initially, this seems rather straight-forward. Early levels just have players swipe in multiple directions to reach an end goal. But once switches, keys, weak spots, and, most notably, enemies enter the fray, what you do with each turn impacts your likelihood of success.

Unlike Hitman GO before it, Square-Enix Montréal has not set up scenarios where you’re trying to achieve the most goals in order to unlock more stages. Instead, this game has a real narrative, and the experience is tailored towards adventure and storytelling. To that end, each of the 40 chapters is selected by tapping on a corresponding book. They’ve also adopted a cel-shaded look versus the diorama-style in order to encapsulate the adventure experience. I admit to being a lot more interested in this title as a result.

In the demo played before me at E3 2015, I got to witness Lara starting off on her trek. The game features no tutorials or on-screen prompts. Instead, players learn how to play simply by experimentation. For example, when you reach a gap, there may be a nearby switch and swiping on it may lift a stone to bridge the space. Shooting enemies from behind with Lara’s signature pistols is accomplished by swiping in their direction. This can even be performed while hanging off a ledge, which makes her do a flip, shooting from overhead. But if she were to try for the front, she may perish before she can release the safety.

This short demo ended with a classic scene where a giant, spherical boulder started rolling down the path Lara was on. Though amusingly enough, the boulder also moves one turn at a time; it’s funny to watch it freeze in place while deciding on the next move. From everything I experienced, I immediately wanted to get my hands on it. Like everyone else, I’ll need to wait until later this year when it comes out for Android and iOS. Croft is getting the best treatment ever lately with this, her other top-down adventure, and the Tomb Raider franchise reboot!