We gave it a B+
Hitman GO seemed like an anomaly. The mobile take on the storied franchise eschewed its traditional third-person gameplay for a radically different style and gameplay method. Players moved an Agent 47 totem around levels laid out like board games — puzzles to be solved by movement.
It was a surprisingly engrossing title, one that mirrored the gameplay of the original games but in a completely new way. And now Square Enix hopes it can do for the exploration and environmental navigation of Tomb Raider what it did for the shooting and puzzle box machinations of Hitman with Lara Croft GO.
Using a similar set-up, players navigate Lara Croft through level after level, collecting treasure, avoiding dangerous platforms and taking down horrific monsters. Sound familiar Tomb Raider fans? Lara Croft’s entry in the GO franchise certainly captures the ideas of its mothership franchise in a smart way, similar to how Hitman GO did before it. And while it’s not nearly as challenging as its predecessor, and even easy to blaze through, it’s still a fun approximation of Lara’s more cinematic adventures that left me hanging — thankfully not off the side of a cliff — on for more.
GO consists of five books of levels for Lara to explore, each filled with treasures hidden throughout the levels. The game smartly introduces the enemies and traps Lara will have to contend with to survive. At first the player comes across just a snake or two. Step too close to one, and it will kill you, but in order to vanquish it you must first deal with the other snake. Maybe that conveniently placed spear can help you out…
But then take this early problem and add in crumbling ledges and half a dozen more snakes several levels later. And movement in each level is turn-based, so when you move Lara one space forward in a level, enemies or traps that move as well will also shift position. Some are on fixed paths, and others chase Lara down, but the game never leaves you without the tools to succeed — at worst, occasionally some trial and error or is called for to determine the path to victory.
Sadly, none of the threats to Lara’s life offers much of a challenge. There are certainly levels where you may find yourself at an impasse, and finding the solutions to those particular challenges can be quite fulfilling, particularly in the later levels as the developers throw every trick in the book at you. But many of the levels are a breeze to simply complete making victory feel more like an expected result rather than an earned one.
Rather than Hitman GO‘s method of encouraging replays (completing a challenge in a specific number of moves, defeating a certain number of enemies, etc.). Lara Croft GO’s levels are layered with treasures to find. It can be easy to miss a few as you first take care of a level’s puzzles, but keeping an eagle-eyed look out for them behind the game’s beautiful geometric backdrops is an enjoyable way to pad out the somewhat lithe journey. At least it’s a gorgeous journey to undertake — the focus on simple shapes and bright, popping colors makes each environment as much a joy to simply explore as it is to meticulously scan for hidden treasure.
That’s perhaps the blessing and the curse of Lara Croft GO. As quickly as I completed the adventure, I was left wanting more levels, more intricate puzzles, and more treasures to amass. That feeling results from both enjoying the ride to the game’s end so much while simultaneously leaving me surprised at how easily it came to an end. The journey could have used a bit more challenge, but it was still a journey well worth taking.