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Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris PC Review

2010’s Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light was a huge surprise from Crystal Dynamics. It wasn’t anything like what the well-known Tomb Raider franchise had featured before. The company took a chance on changing the dynamics of a Tomb Raider game, but – probably to a sigh of relief from the developers – the game was a successful reimagining for the heroine, so much in fact that a sequel is now upon us. The Lara Croft title has spun into a little bag of tasty treats as a downloadable title, keeping it away from the big main course that is the Tomb Raider games, with the next instalment, Rise of the Tomb Raider, due next year. While people wait for that, here is Lara’s latest title that follows closely in the footsteps of Guardian of Light.

Temple of Osiris sees Lara matching up with Carter, an archaeologist who sees Lara as a competitor in the field of archaeology. Racing to find the staff of Osiris in Egypt, the two enter a temple and notice the staff sat there untouched. Wanting to be the first to grab the precious find, Carter gets a step ahead of his rival Lara and grabs the staff in celebration, only to release a curse that attaches itself to both Carter and Miss Croft. At the same time, the action releases the vengeful spirit of Set, who wants to destroy the world. It’s down to Lara to use her tomb raiding skill set and find multiple pieces of Osiris’ body to bring his spirit back and hopefully put Set back in his place in the underworld.

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As far as stories go, Temple of Osiris uses the Egyptian theme to present the player some insight into the mythology of these two gods, but as far as bringing a story for the player to care about, well, it’s very light on that. The Lara Croft spinoffs aren’t created with a focus on storytelling, but instead are made for some fun cooperative gameplay.

It’s easy to see Temple of Osiris as a continuation set by Guardian of Light, because the sequel sticks extremely close to the original’s formula, although, this time around there is support for up to four players cooperative, thanks to the inclusion of Carter and the two awakened spirits of Horus and Isis. The game ideally should be played cooperative; it’s built around having at least two people, one a human and the other as a spirit, as the two feature different elements that are used throughout the game’s entire collection of puzzles. That doesn’t mean you are forced to play it cooperative, as you can beat the game on your own, but the game gives the player all the assets they need to beat the title with one character, losing some of the magic that happens when players work together to overcome a puzzle and progress through the game.

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The same isometric camera is used to keep the action in view, allowing the player to see a chunk of the environment. It’s mostly a solid camera, but the view can sometimes cause issues with perception, specifically with jumping, which is probably due to the more complex level design, as Guardian of Light never had this problem. There were multiple instances where I went for a jump, but missed the target because I couldn’t get the angle correctly, and with a player’s casted shadow being hard to notice in some of the darker tombs, it can be an annoyance to miss a jump that felt out of your control. At least the spawn points are usually fair, allowing a dead player to return to their cooperative partner, otherwise if all cooperative players die, they revert to a checkpoint, which is no longer than a few minutes away.

Temple of Osiris’ combat remains simple, using the right stick to aim and the right trigger to shoot in the direction of the stick. Action is quick, with enemies often coming from various angles and dying within a few hits. Only a tiny portion of foes entail a different approach, such as the killer crocs requiring a bomb to blow them up once the reptiles have been knocked to the ground. Apart from that, you can get away by blasting everything that moves, which does become a little tiresome towards the end of the game.

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Thankfully, the boss battles spice up the variety when shooting becomes dull, with some exciting encounters throughout the game’s five hour campaign that blend puzzle elements along with hitting weak points to damage. One boss has you rolling on a giant ball while you dodge attacks and holes, while another requires the player to skilfully use bombs to blast bomb balls into a cage on the surface of the water. The boss battles are the best sections to show off the game’s merge of puzzle and combat, showcasing the development team’s creative design when coming up with fights that get players simulated.

All characters can use various weapons, such as shotguns, assault rifles and even rocket launchers that are found during the course of the game. An improvement over Guardian of Light is the action RPG inspired loot system that adds some very light customisation to a character’s build. Using gems that are earned from killing enemies, smashing objects and finding secret treasure, players can open treasure chests found either in the hub world that leads to the numerous tombs or at the end of a successful raid where Lara and company are greeted with a chamber full of chests that cost different amounts of gems to unlock.

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Chests offer rings and amulets that can buff characters by contributing to defence, attack power and rate of fire, while amulets modify abilities, such as tri-fire or poisonous bombs. Amulets only activate – automatically – after killing a certain amount of enemies, and will stay active until the player is hit. This loot mechanic adds depth and just enough player customisation to see slight differences in play styles. If another entry in the Lara Croft spin-off arrives in the future, it wouldn’t surprise me if they begin to look at Diablo for inspiration to add more depth to this twin-stick shooter.

When the action goes quiet it’s often time for platforming or solving one of the game’s many puzzle rooms that crop up. Most puzzles are rather straight-forward to solve, usually involving rolling balls to pressure plates, blowing up walls with bombs or running away from deadly spike traps on the floor. The more exciting puzzles use the abilities of the characters. Humans can drop bombs to move heavy objects, use their grappling hook to swing on walls or help another character tightrope to locations. Spirits on the other hand use their staffs to produce an energy beam that breaks enemy spawn balls, reflects off mirrors and can slowdown the movement of blue infused objects. The different abilities of the characters is the reason why cooperative play is better, since everyone has to be involved in solving the puzzle, rather than the one character featuring all the abilities and getting through the game on their own. Interestingly, the puzzles adapt around how many players, which makes it exciting for everyone, as each person has to do their part.

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Performance for Temple of Osiris on PC is solid. There is an improvement in lighting and texture work compared to the previous Lara Croft game, but the isometric view means that you won’t exactly see the best visuals on the market. You will be able to produce fantastic image quality though when the game is maxed out. Initially, there was performance issues when playing online, but thankfully was patched out for launch day for a much smoother online experience. The only complaint I can say is that my cooperative partner was having issues with the game reverting to the UI for mouse and keyboard if he didn’t move his character after a few seconds.

Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris is a solid follow up to Guardian of Light, but the sequel does not surprise as much the second time around, sticking closely to the same design with some slight tweaks around gear and the inclusion of a basic loot mechanic. It’s more exciting to play with a friend, as playing solo spoils some of the magic that comes with games aimed for a group of people, but either way, Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris is a good game for anyone into arcade twin-stick action, platforming and fun, but unpretentious, puzzles.

7 out of 10