Rise of the Tomb Raider Review

Reestablishing Lara as a true icon of the industry

Rise of the Tomb Raider revisits Lara’s roots, shifting the focus back to the value of exploration. 

Join us as we explore the inner workings of Lara’s latest adventure, developed by Crystal Dynamics. Inside you’ll learn everything there is to know about Rise of the Tomb Raider. It’s time to stock up the backpack with vital supplies, don our exploration boots, and shift out for the adventure of a lifetime.

Story & concept

Before we discuss anything further, let’s set the scene. Snowy mountains. An incoming storm. Best friends Lara and Jonah stand on the precipice of a dangerous, ice-covered peak. The hidden city of Kitezh is so close they can taste it, but first, they’ll have to survive the rest of the ascent. And ensure they stay one step ahead of the persistent, perverted Trinity.

In following up on her late father’s work, Lara’s quest for immortality takes her from Siberia to Syria and plenty of places in between. She’ll deal with local militias, ancient curses, and fascist jerks every step of the way. There are more than a few close calls, with Lara facing certain death time and time again. Whether it’s from ancient booby traps or the aforementioned fascist jerks. But with the limitless coffers of the Croft family estate and the reliable friendship of one Jonah Maiava, Lara is more than capable of saving the world from the clutches of evil. Again.

Rise of the Tomb Raider - Temple Entrance

The story of Rise of the Tomb Raider is one that examines life, death, and everything we think we know about the duo. The search for immortality drove Lara’s father to dark businesses and shady friendships, and it’s the same search that consumes Lara. Whether it’s climbing mountains or shooting bad guys, everything Lara does throughout her journey is to help her understand her father more. And to put to rest his deadly obsession once and for all.

Graphics

There are no two ways about it. Rise of the Tomb Raider is a beauty to behold. The scenery that envelopes Lara at any point in her journey is simply stunning. Each awe-inspiring biome carries meticulous detail. It’s a level of polish and presentation befitting a triple-A standard. When you stand on the edge of a mountain and watch the sunrise, you feel like it’s a photograph and not a video game. When you break through an ancient stone wall to stand in a forgotten tomb, you can see the dust motes you disturbed swirling in the air.

The cutscenes are equally spectacular. This boils down to impressive character models, ultra, life-like animations, and pinpoint lip-syncing. These animations seep into the fabric of gameplay too. You’ll find yourself wondering if it’s a cutscene or if you’re in control of Lara.

Rise of the Tomb Raider - Exploring Dark Cave

All around, Rise of the Tomb never ceases to amaze with its high-fidelity visuals.

Sound & atmosphere

That brings us onto the visceral subject of music. When Tomb Raider was initially released in 1996, it relied heavily on ambiance. Alongside a series of subtle audio cues to create a sense of suspenseful isolation. We are pleased to confirm that Rise of the Tomb once again reverts to its roots in this regard.

Instead of a thumping musical score, the latest iteration opts for a more immersive approach. Just like the games of old, Rise of the Tomb Raider lets the environment do all the legwork. All too often as the player, you’re left alone with any thoughts. All Lara has, are the disturbing noises of the wild for company. But they can just as quickly provide moments of serenity and tranquility.

There’s nothing scarier than silence, until suddenly, the ravenous roaring of a bear resonates all around, as the beast breaks out from its blackened cave, stampeding towards you.

Rise of the Tomb Raider - Golden Shrine

Heart-stopping stuff, indeed.

Gameplay

There’s a lot to admire when it comes to gameplay. Rise of the Tomb Raider is split up into a series of semi-open world hubs to explore. All of which unlock in a Metroidvania style.

Each area plays host to a wholesome array of activities for Lara to indulge herself. Of course, we know Lara can’t resist a challenge. Even so, the sheer volume of content on offer is enough to daunt the legendary Ms. Croft herself.

For one, there are a ton of challenges to complete. Many of them are hiding around areas waiting for you to discover them. Some of them involve collecting animal pelts from predatory creatures. Some require you to shoot swinging incense burners. The challenges, though varied, help train your trigger finger or your eye as you explore Lara’s world.

Rise of the Tomb Raider - Engaged in Combat

Lara can traverse from A to B much better now thanks to her trusty pickax. But she still has her reliable rope arrows as well. Perfect for getting to those otherwise inaccessible areas.

On top of that, terrifying tombs possessing the rarest of relics, an innovative three-tier skill tree, extensive crafting options, and a seemingly unlimited amount of side quests make Rise of the Tomb a must-play game. Essential, in every sense of the word.

Replay value

Part of Rise of the Tomb Raider’s self-worth derives from its main story. Even so, the environmental storytelling in this survival game is equally as immersive. In truth, those lush, awe-inspiring vistas littered all around are just begging you to explore them.

On top of that, the sheer number of methods to tackle combat and terrain traversal, thanks to an innovative craft system, keeps the action fresh and exciting. The good news is this authentic feeling stays sustained throughout the game. Awesome stuff.

All in all, Rise of the Tomb has considerable replay value. More so, should your ambitions lie in tracking down all those hidden collectibles? For us, we felt compelled to complete every tomb — all with the aspiration of uncovering that rare, elusive artifact of historical relevance.

Rise of the Tomb Raider - Close Up of Lara

It’s all too easy to whittle away the hours with Lara in Rise of The Tomb Raider. That said, the game never feels overcooked. You’re left wanting more. Even after the grueling tomb runs and brutal combat challenges.

Final words on Rise of the Tomb Raider

Overall, Rise of the Tomb Raider reestablishes Lara as a true icon of the industry, with an endearing character portrayal that’s both authentic and truly meaningful. Thus, acting as a fitting testimony to the immortalized heroin enshrined in gaming folklore.

Rise of The Tomb Raider has a winning formula and is fine-tuned and face-lifted to provide a more than worthwhile experience.

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About Victor

Writer. Gamer. Outdoorsman. Victor has written across multiple mediums, with some of his work appearing in anthologies, magazines, and websites like Nerdist.com, SFFWorld.com, and CBR.com. When not writing, he is usually gaining inspiration for writing from the library of video games he owns. If he's not indoors, Victor is outdoors climbing mountains, hiking forests, or otherwise conquering nature.

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