Lara Croft GO review AA Header

At this point, I think it’s fair to say that Square Enix as a whole is one of the more popular game developers in the Android space. Aside from the extremely popular Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest and Chaos Rings franchises, the developer’s Montreal-based offices have brought us hit titles such as the original Tomb Raider, Lara Croft: Relic Run and Hitman GO.

Square Enix Montreal released the turn-based puzzler Hitman GO to the Play Store last year, and for many, it quickly became one of the most popular titles available on mobile devices. So in an effort to marry two of the developer’s most successful franchises – Hitman GO and Tomb Raider – Square Enix has just released a new game called Lara Croft GO.

I’ve spent some quality time with this new game, and I think there are some important things you should know about it. Here’s everything you need to know about Lara Croft GO.

Be sure to check out a recording of Joe Hindy playing Tomb Raider Go and giving his impressions on Twitch.

Story

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Before we get into the game’s mechanics, let’s talk about why you’re here. You play as none other than Lara Croft, navigating through an ancient civilization in hopes to uncover the myth of the Queen of Venom. I’m going to be entirely honest here – I wouldn’t know that if I didn’t read through the game’s Play Store description. There’s no dialogue in the game whatsoever, which makes it very difficult to know what exactly you’re trying to accomplish in the grand scheme of things.

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Still, though, short-term goals in the game are quite easy to understand – avoid or kill enemies, collect ancient relics to unlock new outfits and do your best to make your way through each map. The game is split up into five different chapters: The Entrance, The Maze of Snakes, The Maze of Stones, The Maze of Spirits and The Escape. There are 75 puzzles in all, and you need to complete every one to finish the game.

Gameplay

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Much like its predecessor, Lara Croft GO is a turn-based puzzler that’s proven to be quite addictive. To navigate around the board, you simply swipe in the direction you’d like to move. There are no limitations on the number of moves you can make, which is something I needed to get used to from playing Hitman GO. With Hitman GO, I’d spend minutes at a time plotting every move to make sure I completed each level with the appropriate amount of moves. In Lara Croft GO, however, you can essentially navigate around as much as you’d like, which gives you much more freedom.

In order to make your way to the end of each level (usually signified by a glowing door or cave), you’ll need to defeat or avoid the onslaught of enemies standing in your way. There are three main enemies in Lara Croft GO: snakes, lizards and spiders. Snakes stay in one place and will attack if you walk right in front of them, while spiders move around a certain path with every move you take. Lizards are by far the most annoying of the bunch, as they follow you around the game board if you get too close. These enemies can sometimes be used to your advantage to hold down platform switches or to help open doors.

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Remember: take your time

You can kill enemies by sneaking up behind them with your knife or by throwing spears. Fire can also be used to scare them away, allowing you to corner them or move them around the game board any way you’d like.

One thing should be noted when it comes to gameplay style, though, and it’s something that I often forget with this title. There is no limit on time or number of moves you can make. It’s easy to forget this when a giant lizard is chasing you around, or when a giant serpent is staring you down one space away. Just remember to take your time and carefully think about each move, otherwise you’ll end up starting each level over more times than you’d like.

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The first few levels are quite easy, and that’s alright. This allows you to get familiar with how the game works, how each enemy functions and what exactly you’re trying to accomplish. Once you start getting into the third and fourth chapters, though, each level gets significantly more difficult. I’ve had to put the game down due to sheer frustration at times, which, in hindsight, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s challenging enough to keep you playing over a long period of time, yet satisfying enough to keep you interested.

Relics

Throughout the game, you’ll find little jars scattered around each level which hold pieces of lost relics. Once you collect all of the pieces to a certain relic, you’ll unlock new outfits for Lara Croft. Relics can be extremely hard to find in some levels, while sometimes they’re waiting for you out in the open. It’s easy to miss them at times, but really, they’re not all that important.

Relics don’t unlock anything more than extra outfits, so don’t expect any special weapons or abilities to come from collecting them all.

Final thoughts

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Lara Croft GO is available in the Google Play Store for $4.99. It doesn’t feature any advertisements, and the small amount of in-app purchases are completely hidden from plain sight. In fact, if I didn’t go snooping around in some of the menus, I’d think this game is in-app purchase-free. If you’d like to spend some extra cash when you’re playing though, there are only two that I can find. You can spend $1.99 to unlock the Square Enix Universe Outfit Pack, which lets you change Lara’s appearance with outfits from Hitman GO, Deus Ex and Just Cause. The other one I found gives you a solution to every puzzle in the game for a flat rate of $4.99. I’m still trying to figure out why this is an option.

All in all, you should play Lara Croft GO. It’s a beautiful, addicting and challenging title that will keep you interested for a long time. Unlike ustwo’s Monument Valley which was incredibly short, it took me a few days to finish Lara Croft GO. It may not be as lengthy as some would like, but I believe it’s still worth the money.

Lara Croft GO is a must-buy, as long as you can get past one major caveat

The only real complaint I have is regarding the story. Maybe it’s because I was spoiled by Monument Valley’s mysterious storyline, but I can’t help but think Square Enix missed the mark here. I’ve finished the game, and aside from successfully completing 75 unique puzzles, I don’t really feel like I know any more information about the Queen of Venom or any of the ancient relics I collected along the way.

If you can get past that aspect, though, Lara Croft GO is a must-buy. Have you played Lara Croft GO? If so, how do you like it? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!