Some spoilers for early areas and plot points in Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Well, despite company and holiday cooking, did manage to get a little in, but nothing of much substance. Did the (my?) first challenge tomb, which was the one right by the campfire that was practically handed to you on a platter. I did kinda like that Lara was all “I think I see a way through!” and Jonah just said “Yeah, whatever.” Disagreement between characters, and not just “Hey! I’m going totally magpie!” “Oh, it’s cool.”
Still, the tomb itself…..
It was pretty actiony, wasn’t it? Not really the puzzley things that we’ve been used to. Lots of climbing. The most fiddly bit was the part with the big, spiky, falling balls. Indeed, when I got “Tomb Completed” I thought “That’s it?”
I certainly didn’t feel like I raided much.
And here’s a weird bit of game psychology: When I completed the tomb, I got that “push down on thingy” bit that you get when you get neat stuff. But when I did that, I expected something to happen. Push things, things happen, right? You don’t push things to END quests, you push things to keep them going. So it felt weird. The last games, you opened a chest. That felt final. That felt like an accomplishment.
Weird. But what can I say? That one simple thing made me feel differently about the tomb.
Details. They matter.
It was a LITTLE puzzley, with the turning gears to make things spin into position and so forth. But you’re right, not a huge level of challenge. But it was the first one. Maybe they were just lulling you into a false sense of security.
And it’s true, the ending did come as a bit of a surprise given its presentation as a thing to push. I didn’t find it that big a hitch, but there was this moment of “oh, OK, that’s it? OK.”
And I did enjoy Jonah’s “yeah, whatever, have fun” attitude to the tomb. “Knock yourself out, I’ll stay here and get some rest like a sensible person who knows we’ll be fighting jaguars again any minute.”
We’re talking about the same one? The one where you had to kind of ride a box over a canyon?
Yeah! It wasn’t a big hitch, as you say, but it sort of got rid of the sense of accomplishment. You open a chest, she has eyes of wonder, you feel like you raided something, you know? It’s how raiders do. “I shall go in and find the lost treasures” has more heft to it than “I shall go in an push down the large button.” Why are we pushing the large button? There’s no reason to push the large button other than to get “Tomb Completed,” which sort of breaks immersion. There’s a reason to open a treasure chest, right?
And her being kind of wrong is funny. She’s all “There’s a way through!” as if she thinks this is the way forward on the main quest. When she gets back she’s sort of sheepish, like “Well…there was an old camp…and…you know…stuff…but, uh, not a way through.”
If we’re talking about the same tomb, I have a thought. If not, I won’t spoil.
Yeah, but you had to push that handle to knock the box loose, right? Or to get something else out of the way of the box. I don’t even remember the details. Maybe “turning gears” was an overly complicated way of putting it, I was just assuming there was a gear in there somewhere, what with the box gliding so smoothly back and forth.
But no, I think we’re talking about the same thing. It’s not really an open world, at least not at this point, so if we’re talking about different things they must have been at almost the same place in the game, and each of us somehow entirely missed one of them, which seems unlikely.
Plus, you mentioned the giant spiked balls that fall on you, and I definitely met those.
Ah, good. Spiked balls. Wonderful.
So here’s my thought on that: We talked a lot during Mafia 3 about the acquisition of skills in a world that doesn’t have magic or sci fi tech or anything, and how we liked the way, for the most part, that Mafia 3 handled the challenge of making an already fit, trained bad ass even more so. Here, the few skills I’ve seen are just Lara getting fitter, really.
Here, the skill we get for doing this tomb was the ability to climb faster on craggy ledges. Considering that the really tough bit of the tomb involved climbing the fuck faster, that made some sort of sense. Like, ok, she got that shot of adrenaline (ha) and now she has it in the back of her mind that things might fall on her or whatever. The skill was a) just an enhancement of something she could already do and b) directly related to a major challenge of the tomb.
That’s a fairly deft way of handling the skill thing. We’ll see if it keeps up.
Ha! Did you climb faster? I just swung back over to the craggy bit and waited for the ball to fall past me.
So I totally didn’t use the improved skill the way you’re talking about…but I get what you’re saying, and agree that it’s a good way to let your already-badass character get more badass without requiring you to actually develop the ability to fly or something completely impossible.
I did climb faster! There was a lot of “AAAA!!!! SHIT!!! I’m dead” thrown in there as well. So yes! I did! Makes sense in my game.
But a lot of skills, even the ones you can learn, are like that: things you’d just get better at naturally (I know this because I exercise now). Like, I took the skill that lets you breath underwater longer (because fuck swimming). If you were busting your ass raiding tombs or going to the track or something, holding your breath longer would be a natural thing.
So I’m cool with it.
Now watch: The next tomb WILL be “You can now fly.”
I wish, man. Flying would make the next tomb much, much easier.
But yeah, skills are like that. You practice stuff, you get better at it! Weird but true!
Or you just swing back out of the way and wait for it to fall past you. Which is getting better at…uh…picking your battles.
Either way, we’re demonstrating growth and maturity as characters in a game.
I want a skill called “Pick your battles.” It would be like “Kevins who just aren’t worth your time are highlighted in purple” or something.
It would be handy.
SO HANDY. I would max that out.
Also purple: plants and boxes with stuff that you’re already full up on.
“There’s a scavenger box here but you already have a ton of those components.”
“This whole area of the map is basically a time sink with no real return.”
And that’s why a) this will never be a skill and b) even if it were, let’s be honest, I would never really take it.
I MUST CHECK OUT THAT AREA AND OPEN THAT BOX.
Oooo that would be so awesome. I’m already at the point where Lara’s all like “Dude, really? I have SOOO much wood. Can’t we just skip it?”
And I can hear Aloy in the background, all “preach, sister.”
It would be nice to have the things you can’t actually pick up not glow. Or glow in a more muted fashion, like “hey, this is an interactive thing, but you don’t care right now. But maybe if you craft a bunch of arrows, you’ll care again.”
Oh, and apparently the perception-enhancing herb doesn’t work with human enemies unless you get a skill for that. Which may be worth it, I’ll have to see how I feel.
You know you’ll be glad of having increased your breath-holding ability at some point, though.
Oh, I imagine I will. I grabbed it early because if I’m ever underwater thinking “Man, I wish I had taken that” without it, I’d go nuts.
So played a bit more. Killed a big assed jaguar, and now I’m kinda cheesed that I couldn’t put the new outfit with benefits on over the very sensible black tank top I changed into. Ahem.
Did the bit with the kid. That was kinda fun. I fear I missed some stuff. Though, game, for fucking real, how was I supposed to know I had to fiddle with the globe AGAIN to free the queen? Took. Me. Forever. And then I only did it out of desperation.
Are Lara and Jonah…you know…Lara and Jonah? That was quite a suggestive fade to moon there.
Oh, and do we remember what killed Lara’s mother? I remember doing all that bit in Croft manor after the second game, but I don’t remember what I learned.
Jaguars are kind of a pain.
“Jaguars are kind of a pain.” True fact.
Dude, I am so with you on that bit when you’re a kid! How were we supposed to know to go back to the globe? It wasn’t anywhere on that note. Like you, I only did it out of desperation after everything else failed (looking at the contents of every display case, checking around for switches, moving the figures on the board into various formations, etc.) and I have no idea WHY it was the answer.
But whatever. Moving on.
Didn’t her mother freeze to death on a mountain? While on an expedition with her father, or something? I feel like there was a bit in the last one about how Lara’s father had retrieved her mother’s body from the Himalayas or somewhere and stashed it in the crypt that we eventually got into there under the manor. He’d been hoping to bring her back to life, right?
But I think maybe we don’t entirely know the story. Perhaps the truth of her death is yet to be revealed.
It was kind of fun to go back to being Young Lara, and having all the same mechanics, and her own dramatic narration, while climbing around on her giant playground and going up on the roof and stuff was entertaining. Plus, it’s a nice way of kind of grounding her badassery: she’s been practicing this stuff basically her entire life, so yeah, she’s good at climbing and poking around.
Oh and speaking of changing outfits, it’s kind of awesome (in an “I will never actually do that” way) that you can pick an ‘outfit’ that is a classic Lara Croft figure. The descriptions alone are worth it.
I mean, not worth buying the entire game if I hadn’t already done it or anything, but worth the read, anyway.
I saw that! But I didn’t read anything. Were they funny?
I am not playing all pixelated. But I was enjoying the tank top.
Jaguars really are. I thought I was being clever cuz I got up in a tree, and was all “HA! I shall snipe you from up here oh you can get up here too of course cuz you’re a jaguar.”
Should’ve seen THAT coming.
But Ok, good. Wasn’t just me in the kid bit. Maybe we both missed the same clue. I was doing so well up until then!
Speaking of things I really should be able to do, why can’t I fast travel? I’ve been trying to fast travel, and no dice. What gives?
Oh, right. I do remember the trying to revive the mother bit.
Did you find the note to the contractor about the vault? Where it seems heavily implied that he’s bankrupting himself to build it?
It was good background. And I liked that she wasn’t being violent, which explains her naivety in the first game. She wasn’t shooting Kevin the neighbor boy with fake guns. All of her “exploration” was very innocent. Indeed, her one interaction with a gun was extremely traumatic, which set up her hideous (if short lived) reaction to violence and killing in the first game quite well.
And that is something else that’s evolving. After she killed the jaguar, she just got Jonah, and stoically started skinning it, expressionless. “This is just business.”
They’re doing well with this game. True, not so themey. But still. Props for character development.
Well, I don’t want to oversell it–they’re not hilarious must-read jokes, I just kind of enjoyed the amusing couple of sentences about “the classic style of this attractive yet functional look” or whatever.
I was sticking with the functional outfit she got off the plane in, I didn’t want giant rain forest beetles getting into my cleavage or anything, but I swapped it for the jaguar skin because benefits. And no way I’m playing all pixelated. I have standards.
Yeah, if there was a clue about going back to the globe, I missed it too. Maybe we both suck. But good point about her enthusiasm being all about the exploration–the danger was in the environment, she wasn’t playing at being hunted by rival explorers and having to pick them off from the treetops or anything.
You have to get to the village before you can fast travel. Then that third icon will be active when you go to a campfire, and you’ll be able to hop around all you want. Not long now!
At least they know they’re being cheeky.
As do I, have standards that disallow pixels. That and I never played the old ones, so there isn’t even sentimental value.
I changed clothes because…um…I’d rather the beetles have a way to get out of my cleavage. Yeah. That’s it.
But yeah, changed. Benefits. Though it looks damn warm for the rain forest. And fur is so 80s.
Yup–It was extremely innocent, in the past.
Which also is a suggestion into her views of her father (or confusion about him). She was trying to “become Richard Croft’s assistant,” which implies she thought that whatever the hell her dad was doing was also innocent and fun. One doubts that was true. When she was painting and just said “He’s at work,” she said it in a rather jolly way, like “Dad’s off doing awesome things and that’s awesome,” not “He’s never here and I hate him.” My kids are less cool with Mrs. McP going to work.
Oh, right. The fast-travel icon. This game, you can only travel from one campsite to another, right? You can’t just zoop from anywhere to a campsite, like Horizon, right?
Exactly right: you can only go from one campsite to another campsite. I guess they want you to have a critical mass of campsites before you can fast travel? I don’t know, it doesn’t seem like it would make that much difference to let us go back to the first tomb now as opposed to after we get to the village, but whatever. You need to have demonstrated a certain level of commitment, I guess.
And yes, Lara didn’t seem that troubled by dad being “at work,” but her mom sure did. This was actually the parallel I was thinking of when we talked about Jonah chastising Lara for not caring enough about the people in front of her–Lara’s mom says pretty much exactly that to her dad. “You’re never here, you don’t know your own child” or whatever.
So I thought that was an interesting link between Lara and her father, both of them getting so obsessed with their work-related quests (which, we do not forget, are quite possibly completely insane) that they don’t pay attention to the humans around them.
Yeah! And there’s a crypt right by the first one I totally missed. Bah.
Oh! Good catch on the conversation! And I’ll double down on it, as we look toward the future of the narrative: Lord Croft DID care. A lot. WAAAAAY too late. He wanted to bring his wife back to life and would do anything to do it. He didn’t value her nearly enough when she was alive and well, but dead? Obsessed with her. Is Lara the same? Only caring about people when it’s too late?
Cuz Lord Croft (arguably) ignored the fact that he had a daughter right there. So obsessed with a wife he ignored until it was too late that he ignored his daughter.
Though we did have some foreshadowing: When he’s on the phone there, he says “What? This has nothing to do with Lara.” So why did the dude on the phone (who’ll I’ll just bet is Dominguez) bring her up? Hmmmmmm??????
We shall see.
So true: what WAS that about? Why does Lara’s name come up immediately before he shoots himself?
On your idea that maybe he cares too much only when it’s too late…has something happened that suddenly made him realize he cares about Lara, but at a point where he feels the only thing he can do to protect her is remove himself from the picture and hope that means whoever it is he was talking to will leave her alone?
Maybe the person on the phone (Dominguez or whoever) made some threat against Lara in hopes of making her father help them or something, and he thought the only way to keep her from being used as a hostage against him was to kill himself? (Well…he could also have killed her. So he gets parenting points for choosing to shoot himself instead, assuming my wild speculation is anywhere close to the truth.)
We shall closely follow this narrative thread.
Do you know anything I do not yet know here?
But good idea on “I shall die to protect you.” It certainly adds a wrinkle, as the implication and assumption about Croft’s suicide was that he was a failure. Certainly Lara seems to think that’s what’s behind it. He lost his money, his title, he’s about to lose his estate, he’s bankrupt, he’s a joke in his profession, he’s at rock bottom. It’s all rather selfish when you look at it like that. “I failed, I’m being laughed at, so I’ll just leave my daughter behind.” But if he’s doing it FOR HER, then that turns every assumption upside down. And would be kinda cool, especially juxtaposed on Lara’s own selfishness.
I don’t know a single thing that you don’t know. (About the past, anyway. I have progressed a little farther in the present.) That was all pure, wild speculation, based on absolutely no concrete knowledge other than the things we have both already seen.
But it could work, right? We shall see.
WILD SPECULATION is how we do.
One of the hows we do.
One of the hows we do best!