Lara Croft Go (PS Vita) Review

By Thom Compton 19.12.2016 3

Review for Lara Croft Go on PS Vita

When Hitman Go came out, it was like a shot of morphine into a series known for its action. It took the methodical nature of navigating levels in the Hitman series and converted them into an almost chess-like puzzle game. Due to its immense success, it's no surprise Square Enix would dig deeper into its catalogue to find another gem to give the turn-based movement treatment to, and this time, Tomb Raider was chosen. Unfortunately, the results are much more varied.

In an effort to set itself apart from the original title, Lara Croft Go is an almost more cinematic affair. Levels are larger, animations are more fluid, and the environment is no longer modelled after a briefcase diorama, instead a living, breathing life all its own. This is a nice touch, but some may miss the gameboard style levels. Still, those dioramas fit the cold and calculated style of Hitman, and this giant world fits the expansive universe that Lara Croft finds herself in.

Gameplay is largely the same, with the player navigating nodes on the board one at a time. This time, it feels more turn based, but only subtlety. Every movement allows an enemy to proceed as well, and it seems like the importance of moving the correct number of times and to the right spaces is much more emphasised. It's not enough to get an enemy to relocate; you will need them to land on certain spots on certain terms in order to proceed. It's not enough to kill an enemy blocking your path; you may need them to set off a trigger at a certain point. The level of strategy far exceeds Hitman Go, as you can even navigate the map with weapons on Lara's person, instead of using them immediately as in the original title.

The level of strategy is fantastic, though failure often requires pausing and restarting. A quick restart button would be fantastic, especially since so much trial and error is required. The only other alternative is dying, but that still takes long enough that there's a disconnect, leaving the player feeling like the result of experimentation is a long wait to get back and try again.

The inclusion of an inventory is great, even if it's limited to an item or so at a time. It doesn't feel like a traditional inventory, but it does mean you can pick up a spear, and then set up the perfect time to use it. It also means you need to understand how certain enemies and items work. For instance, a torch can be picked up, but you can't climb with it, either up or down. This leads to some interesting solutions by itself, and it's only one facet of item and enemy comprehension.

Screenshot for Lara Croft Go on PS Vita

Beyond this, it's a lot of the same. There are multiple stories, with multiple levels broken down into each one. One major annoyance is that levels are now broken up into several subsections, meaning that each subsection of each level needs to be beaten before turning the game off. It's fairly irritating having to finish a really long level just to go try something else or shut the Vita off. Another problem comes in the form of extremely long load times. While they don't hit a minute (they sometimes hit 20 to 30 seconds), starting the game up means dealing with these load times multiple times in a row before even starting the game.

The biggest blemish, though, bar none, is the Vita controls, which are unreliable at best. It's easy to hold Square to throw a shot, and then flick the left stick, only to roll in another direction instead of shooting. This is a major inconvenience when moving pillars, as you have to hold Triangle and then flick the direction you want to move. The problem is the game seems to recognise eight different directions, and it immediately registers the first input it gets. This means trying to push up can inadvertently lead to rolling right, or walking backwards, or sometimes not doing anything at all. Theoretically, the touch screen can be used to swipe and move, but while holding Square or Triangle, some people may find themselves playing hand Twister so they can keep the other hand on the back of the Vita for support.

Still, Lara Croft Go is insight fully well built, and arguably one of the best puzzle games to come out on the Vita this year. It just holds the player back, like the doors at a retail store on Black Friday. The difference is, gamers should be able to jump back in as soon as possible to try again, whereas those doors are saving lives. All exaggeration aside, the load times (which become even more apparent during a restart) are so cumbersome, it's easy to not want to pick the game back up again after turning it off. It's important not to give in to the urge.

Lara Croft Go also comes with two additional stories, a myriad of well-hidden and creative collectibles that almost give the game an optical illusion style of play, and enough levels to justify the price. Just make sure you know where those rough spots are, because you're going to need to keep an eye out, as they're definitely an issue.

Screenshot for Lara Croft Go on PS Vita

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Lara Croft Go is an exciting entry in the series, with obvious blemishes. They don't outweigh the good stuff, but they do prevent it from being as good, which is a shame, because it's one of the best puzzle games of 2016, and it could be argued it's the best on the PS Vita this year. Still, with long load times and testy controls, it feels like the price of entry to this deep and exciting puzzle title could be a bit too high to call it a must-have title for anyone who hasn't experienced Square Enix's Go franchise just yet.

Developer

Square Enix

Publisher

Square Enix

Genre

Puzzle

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Brilliant game. Just now working my way through the new mirror puzzles. I could play new entries of this forever.

Deus Ex GO please

Some copyrights were filed for a number of "Go" entries, which included Deus Ex before that game was announced, and Life is Strange, so I'm really hoping the latter gets its version eventually. I guess rewinding will play a factor in that one somehow, although not sure how the game lends itself to this concept other than that mechanic. But they've managed to do it with Hitman, Tomb Raider and now Deus Ex, so I'm sure they can do something for LiS.

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