Lara Croft GO review (Vita)

The GO series by Square Enix transforms existing franchises from the publisher into mobile puzzle experiences with bite-sized levels. Hitman, Tomb Raider and Deus Ex all got the treatment, and after Hitman GO we now have the pleasure of playing Lara Croft Go on Playstation consoles – we looked at the Vita version of the game.

What all GO games have in common in that they take a few key characteristics of each franchise, throw away the rest, and create a puzzle game game with what’s left. Story and atmosphere are elements that are generally underdeveloped, but visually the games are very recognizable – just look at screenshots for the two GO-titles currently released for the Vita: Hitman GO and Lara Croft GO. Gameplay-wise, both titles are turn-based puzzle games, but where Hitman GO is essentially a 2D game projected onto a 3D world, Lara Croft wouldn’t be Lara Croft is there wasn’t also a lot of vertical movement involved.

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Blending action gameplay surprisingly well with a turn-based puzzle dynamic, Lara Croft GO succeeds in being one of this year’s very best puzzle games on the Vita. The way that both genres are combined never feels far-fetched either – for example, traversing across a platform that subsequently crumbles is fairly normal practice for a platformer, but it also means you just went into a one-way street in terms of a puzzle solution.

As a puzzle game, this is one that’s on the more casual end of the spectrum, where trial and error will go a long way in most levels. Very often, the key is in doing things in a different order, or timing your planned actions in better sync with enemy movements. The game features over 100 levels, which is absolutely amazing in terms of value for money as Lara Croft GO costs less than 10 dollars/euros – with through cross-buy includes both the PS4 and Vita versions.

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The game has many familiar Tomb Raider tropes, including traps, platforming, enemies to dodge and/or attack and switches to flip – which is a testament to how creatively this puzzle game has been developed. It’s Tomb Raider, yet it will appeal to a very different kind of audience as well. This is the type of game that can get action game fans interested in a puzzle game, and will cause puzzle fanatics to take note of Tomb Raider. I couldn’t think of a better definition of a good crossover game.

Should you buy Lara Croft if you already own it on your smartphone? Perhaps not – it’s essentially the same game even though you get extra levels that aren’t available on the phone versions (yet). However, if you (like me) don’t use your phone to play games, then you’re selling yourself short by not grabbing this game – it’s available at a great price, and one of this year’s best puzzle games.

Score: 8.7/10

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