The Lara Croft Collection (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Az Elias 29.06.2023

Review for The Lara Croft Collection on Nintendo Switch

After wrapping up its pre-reboot trilogy of Tomb Raider titles (Legend, Anniversary, Underworld), Crystal Dynamics took a risky move with the franchise, taking the Lara Croft name and turning it into its own series separate from the famous branding. Experimenting with an alternative gameplay style, it allowed the core Tomb Raider games to focus on big, bold action adventures, while the spin-offs went the top-down shooter route. The Lara Croft Collection is a twin-pack of these cooperative arcade style games: Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light and Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris.

Tomb Raider fans everywhere will see the name of this bundle and perhaps be disappointed it isn't a collection of some (or all) of Lara Croft's better-known adventures, whether that be the original Core Design games that started everything in the late 90s, or Crystal Dynamics' more recent franchise reboot that culminated in Shadow of the Tomb Raider. It's a fair question to ask, too, given that more and more games from older generations are seeing long-awaited rereleases, some of which gain additional graphical and gameplay enhancements.

Tomb Raider is certainly one of those classic franchises that could perhaps benefit from modern updates to its controls, but frankly just warrants being made accessible to as many people as possible, especially on a platform like Nintendo Switch, of which its userbase is astronomical in numbers. Just about the entire series is available on PC through Steam, but it would be so pleasing to have the ability to play such an iconic set of titles on a modern (handheld) console, even without any additional visual upgrades. Fingers crossed, hm?

Screenshot for The Lara Croft Collection on Nintendo Switch

As outlined, though, The Lara Croft Collection features two isometric top-down arcade action games that evoke the feeling of classic Tomb Raider better than some of the other entries that were being released in the "main" series at the time. 2010's brilliant Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is the superior of these featured spin-offs, but 2014's Temple of Osiris still does a competent job of staying true to its roots despite not being quite as entertaining as its predecessor.

Both games see the titular archaeologist and treasure hunter Lara Croft pursue artifacts of historical importance, only for, naturally, whatever ancient evil that was sealed within them being unleashed unto the world after gaining access. Cue action and puzzle-themed adventures across the Aztec ruins of Mexico in Guardian of Light and through the hazardous tombs of Egypt in Temple of Osiris.

Designed with cooperative play in mind, both titles feature all manner of brain-teasing puzzles and dangerous traps, as well as hordes of monsters to blast down in a twin-stick style, intended to put the teamworking and communication skills of players to the test in a local environment. Indeed, with no online feature, it falls to gathering friends and family on the couch to enjoy the multiplayer aspects - and with puzzles that tailor specifically to the number of players active, and with how the dynamics of the action changes based on this fact, Guardian of Light and Temple of Osiris become quite different experiences depending on whether they are played solo or not. Two buddies can work together in the first game, while the sequel allows for up to four companions running around on-screen, which can admittedly get rather hectic in the latter title.

Screenshot for The Lara Croft Collection on Nintendo Switch

Since characters have unique abilities, it is necessary to assist each other to progress. In Guardian of Light, for example, Lara can fling her grappling hook across a spike pit to create a makeshift tightrope, allowing her partner, the Guardian of Light himself, Totec, to cross the gap safely. Repaying the good faith, Totec can raise his shield above his head, letting the Englishwoman hop on top to reach higher places. Of course, as advancement is made through levels, rooms that require better precision, more thinking, and quicker reflexes crop up, testing the bonds of players and characters alike.

The beauty of both games, though, is that they can be played fully independently, without any need for a player two (or three or four). Lara utilises all the special traits of her allies in single player, meaning every puzzle can be completed and every hazard can be bypassed successfully on her lonesome. Multiplayer is a fun time, despite getting a bit overcrowded in Temple of Osiris, but a solo adventurer can have just as much gratification and may sometimes prefer not having to worry about a comrade, which requires being on the same page in many instances.

True to the series' origins, each stage features a plethora of hidden secrets to uncover. Optional tombs that can be stumbled across, featuring some of the more challenging puzzles, as well as collectibles that require a good eye and equally good platforming, reward in equipable relics and weapons to bolster damage and defence. Such items come with drawbacks, though, whereby some artifacts reduce a statistic whilst boosting another, adding a little customisation to proceedings, as players craft a loadout that suits their style.

Screenshot for The Lara Croft Collection on Nintendo Switch

In addition, the addictive arcade element of both games is delivered through the racking up of points by defeating enemies and picking up treasure. With rewards unlocked for accumulating milestone point totals, a massive part of the fun comes from this score attack mechanic, replaying levels to achieve said targets. Some goals are even time-based, asking players to clear puzzles or even entire stages within the clock. Although the group must work together to reach those objectives in multiplayer, scores are recorded and compared at the end, just for bragging rights' sakes, adding a competitive element to the supportive side of gameplay.

Temple of Osiris seems to take the loot aspect to another level, however. With just how many gems that spew out everywhere, pots there are to destroy, and floors to be blown up to reveal treasure, it makes for a more tedious adventure than Guardian of Light as focus is constantly on performing menial tasks to add to the points total. Since chests in the central hub room of Temple of Osiris can be opened by spending gems for random rewards, this loot-based design is a step back from the simpler approach Guardian of Light takes, where stages play out one after the other upon completion, and it doesn't feel like there is a constant pull to have to pick up treasure.

In fact, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light makes a strong enough statement to pick up this double dose of twin-stick Tomb Raider goodness in its own right, it's that good. While not a lengthy quest by any stretch of the imagination, the diversity and pacing in its level structure makes for continued enjoyment as platforming, shooting, puzzle solving, item hunting and boss fighting play out at varying intervals. Stages are memorable as a result, and it is also why speedrunning the game is so satisfying.

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Most previously released downloadable content transitions into both games, but notable absentees include the amusing Raziel and Kain (from Legacy of Kain) character pack in Guardian of Light and the Hitman pack in Temple of Osiris (the latter isn't a surprise given licensing issues and the fact it is unavailable to buy on Steam now, but still a shame - Lara looked smart in that suit!). Challenge packs (challenging they are, too), costumes and other items that were once separate bonuses and purchases shift over to their respective adventures, though, beefing up what are already two highly replayable products.

Anyone that has played one of the previous console releases of either game will instantly notice the slightly different control scheme. Since the Nintendo Switch's confirm and cancel buttons generally are opposite to how other platform controllers are set up, the developer of these ports, Feral Interactive, has opted to therefore switch around what the A and B buttons do in-game completely. As a result, the X and Y functions have been rotated, as well. Even years after playing the original games, muscle memory can kick in, and it is possible to mess up by pressing an unintended button.

Although the Nintendo Switch's system-wide button remapping can help overcome this to an extent, this means commands in menus also get affected, and so the only acceptable solution would be for full button customisation within the games themselves. It won't be a huge issue to new players, and it can be gotten used to with prolonged play, but the fact that button reworking doesn't exist regardless is very unfortunate. The reversed control scheme was noticeable to this longtime Guardian of Light fan, anyway.

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Even though both titles display the remnants of decade old games, and despite them only targeting 30 frames per second with noticeable dips, these are still attractive looking adventures, with high levels of detail in environments that capture that classic Tomb Raider aesthetic incredibly well. The camera will often pan out in some of the larger puzzle sections and wherever else is necessary, and the distance works in the surroundings' favour to really show off the various habitats, be they jungles, temples, tombs, swamps or otherwise.

Whilst looking particularly great in handheld form, though, an unfortunate side effect of the isometric viewpoint, especially since the camera rarely gets close to Lara, is the inability to get a good look at the assortment of outfits she can equip, save for in a few cutscenes. A camera zoom option would have been a neat addition.

Sadly, a handful of technical issues carry over from the original releases, while subtitles don't appear for in-game dialogue and specific scenes, most notably in Guardian of Light. It also seems an oversight to allow player circles to be switched off in the first game, but are locked in place in the second, even if they are designed to make it clearer where characters are.

The nature of the games means accidental deaths can occur often, too, as it can be difficult to read whether a platform is supposed to be jumped to or grabbed, while falling into pits due to seemingly no fault of the player is common. With plenty of checkpoints around, though, dying doesn't feel like too much of a burden, although losing the current special meter and points streak can prove frustrating.

Screenshot for The Lara Croft Collection on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

The Lara Croft Collection is not to be overlooked. This bundle encompasses one great and one decent arcade action adventure, of which twin-stick shooter and score attack fans will find plenty of enjoyment. Although both games are worth experiencing in multiplayer if possible, Guardian of Light, at the very least, deserves playing even solo, and is a reminder of what Tomb Raider is all about, captured expertly in a style that is positively different, yet respectfully reminiscent of the classic series. Technical issues remain, but it's just a joy to have these ported to a modern platform. Now, with things quiet on the Lara Croft front, surely, it's time for that long overdue third game in this mini-series.

Developer

Feral Interactive

Publisher

Crystal Dynamics

Genre

Action Adventure

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

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   

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