Fun With Friends In Ancient Egypt
Tomb Raider has been split into two very different series. The first is the gritty and dark reboot that came out recently, filled with strong female characters, questionable scenes of violence, and lots and lots of wolf killing. This series brings Tomb Raider into a more modern era. The second series is the top down adventure puzzle series of games started in Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light. This wacky game is filled with gunplay, magic, and lots of old gods. It made the plots of the Tomb Raider series more light hearted and pushed the gameplay toward a format that feels like it’s nostalgic rather than modern. These two series went in totally opposite directions, to say the least. Both series are fun in their own right, offering an experience that scratches two completely separate gaming itches, and both are evolving, the first series with the upcoming Rise of the Tomb Raider, and the second with the recently released Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris.
We join our titular protagonist on a journey to perhaps the birthplace of tomb raiding, Egypt. Through the sheer power of her awesome abilities, Lara finds a temple devoted to Osiris. This discovery’s celebration is short-lived as a rival archaeologist, Carter Bell, accidentally awakens Set, the evil god responsible for the death of Osiris. In the process, Horus and Isis, two other mythological Egyptian figures, are also summoned, and now they must team up with the two tomb raiders in order to stop Set from destroying the world, and bring Osiris back to the living.
If you are an Egyptian mythology buff, you might notice that Temple of Osiris practically slaughters the actual myths of all of these Egyptian gods, and since I know a little bit about Egyptian mythology this did slightly annoy me. Once you shut that part of your brain up and realize that the Egyptian setting is basically just a paintjob for an awesome adventure, ala old Indiana Jones movies, you just take it for what it is – a decent piece of video game writing that keeps the adventure moving forward. In fact, the game itself does its best not to harp on its own story, keeping its cut scenes short and making sure to quickly ferry you from one piece of action to another.
Temple of Osiris is broken into two rather distinct types of gameplay. First, we have the action gameplay, which is sort of a combination of a top down dual stick shooter, and an isometric RPG like Diablo or Baldur’s Gate. Each character has their own set of skills and attacks, with Lara firing pistols and the ancient gods firing ancient, magic lasers (yes…really). The basic beginning and end of the action sequences are “keep shooting the other guy while avoiding getting shot yourself.” This can get dry and repetitive at times, except the game does do a very good job of mixing it up, spawning interesting enemies in hard to tackle formations, and humongous bosses that feel cinematic on a God of War type scale, even if they are viewed from a top down perspective.
The second style of gameplay is puzzle solving, and I do have to give the game a lot of credit here. Most games frame their puzzle as “go to switch A to open door B.” While there are a couple of those in Temple of Osiris, most are much more complex, involving a keen sense of timing, awareness of your environment, and even a little bit of split second platforming skill. Solving puzzles gives you a eureka moment, and the best puzzles in the game are the ones that let you bring a bunch of different elements together to forge one solution. The worst puzzles, however, are the ones that rely on platforming a bit too much. Jumping from a top down perspective just never works out too well.
Temple of Osiris has a fantastic attitude toward multiplayer gameplay. Up to four people can play at the same time, and the game tailors itself to how many party members you have with you. This isn’t just a simple “oh hey look more enemies are spawning” change. The puzzles in the game change as well. Say you had a simple puzzle where you and a partner would need to stand on two switches on opposite sides of a room to open a door. If you have three people in your party, there would be three switches and four would give you four and so forth. Of course, this is a very simple example. In actuality, the way the puzzles change is much more complex and interesting than that. The fact that the gameplay experience is tailored to your party size really does make this game feel unique.
Unfortunately, multiplayer has a lot of other problems that you have to overlook. Specifically, this is one of those games where the screen never splits. All four players have to be on the screen at once in order to allow the game to be played. This means that, as players move further and further apart from each other, the screen zooms out more and more, eventually making it inconvenient to even see your characters on screen.
Eventually, the camera zooms out as far as it’s going to, and at that point any players that are lagging behind are just pushed forward by whoever is moving forward the fastest. This causes an array of possible problems for anyone who doesn’t play the game at the same speed. People who lag behind will be forced into traps and enemies as the screen scrolls without them, usually resulting in cheap deaths. Meanwhile, the players who want to forge forward find themselves frequently waiting around as their partners respawn. It just creates a speed of gameplay that no one really enjoys and that we all have to sigh and deal with as we wait, hurry, wait, hurry, wait, hurry in order to get everyone organized.
Another thing I didn’t particularly like was the way the game handled loot. Throughout the game, you and your friends will collect gems. You then spend those gems at chests in order to open them in hopes for a cool piece of loot to equip. The problem is, none of these pieces of loot are all that good. Some of them increase your attack or defense, or change your attacks slightly, or so on, but I never felt like I needed the loot, and none of the effects made me feel like I instantly got better. Overall, this aspect seemed more of an afterthought rather than a central mechanic. Eventually, I just ignored most chests.
Despite its flaws, Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris is still a neat game. It’s not mind blowing and it isn’t going to be winning any game of the year awards, but it’s an inexpensive title that you can have fun with, especially if you have a dedicated group of friends to play it with. I kind of like that Tomb Raider now means different things to different people. It means we can all play the Tomb Raider that we like the most.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.5 Graphics
Kind of hard to appreciate the graphics from a top down perspective, but it looks impressive when you fight large bosses and contend with huge traps. 3.0 Control
The controls are pretty minimalist but they work for what the game is. Platforming is still a struggle. 3.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
I wouldn’t say the sound design was remarkable, but it’s not terrible either. 3.5 Play Value
This score increases if you have 3 other players willing to play at the same speed as you. 3.5 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid
|2.5 – 2.9 = Average
|3.5 – 3.9 = Good
|4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor
|3.0 – 3.4 = Fair
|4.0 – 4.4 = Great
|5.0 = The Best