Few video game characters can claim to be as iconic as Lara Croft, but that hasn't saved her from some pretty ill-fated reboots. In recent years, however, Crystal Dynamics managed to propel the tough-at-nails adventurer back into the spotlight with two successful yet drastically different revamps. Cue Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris, a sequel of sorts to the 2010 action platformer Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light.
Four years and a generation shift separate the two, but Temple of Osiris will feature much of the same puzzle-driven cooperative gameplay that made Guardian of Light so popular. This time, Lara is joined by a larger cast of allies, including some famous figures of Egyptian folklore. I was introduced to them just recently when given the opportunity to try Temple of Osiris with a few of my peers and Crystal Dynamics executive producer Scot Amos.
Now, for those of you who only remember the studio's 2013 Tomb Raider game, the Lara Croft series is a more classic rendition that retains a lot of what characterized the originals. This includes the character herself, who is still voiced by Keeley Hawes, and the gameplay style. While the Tomb Raider series is a new origin story for the character, Guardian of Light and Temple of Osiris stick closer to the franchise's roots.
So what happens in Temple of Osiris? Lara and the determined Carter Bell, a peer and rival whom Scot described as a "rising star" in archaeology, stumpled upon an Egyptian tomb abandoned to time. Once inside, they awaken Isis and Horus, wife and sun to Osiris, respectively. There's more to the actual mythos than that, but we'll overlook the more grotesque details in the interest of video game narratives. The two gods end up recruiting Lara and Carter in their timeless war against Set, god of the underworld and a well-known usurper.
The four-player co-op basically assigns everyone to an archaeologist or deity. The first player gets Lara, and the second takes the role of Isis in the interest of variety; third and fourth players get Carter and Horus. The two god characters are each equipped with a staff, allowing them to fire beams, create holds and trigger certain traps. Lara and Carter, as the mere mortals of the group, get grapple hooks and torches.
Of course, you're free to play the entire game solo as Lara, in which case she'll also have the staff, on top of her dual pistols, torch, bombs and grapple hook. Otherwise, these tools are spread across the playable characters, opening more avenues for cooperative play. Isis and Horus can use their magic staves to raise platforms or provide a boost to their allies, while Lara and Carter can throw out a grappling line to let others walk over (like a tightrope) deadly obstacles or pull their teammates to up walls.
Again, the cooperative content is totally optional, just like it was in Guardian of Light. The puzzles actually change depending on how many people are in a game, whether it's just Lara or the full team. When playing with a group, bear in mind that loot like trinkets and weapons go to whoever grabs them first. This is a mechanic I'm slightly concerned about, as someone who does a lot of matchmaking, but the flip side is that players can communicate with each other to decide who gets what, should there be any conflicts.
These aspects were all pointed out by Scot during our demo session, which ended with our four-person team falling victim several times to a chase involving traps and a giant, angry crocodile deity. None of the encounters felt particularly like boss encounters, but just before the demo wrapped up, we did glimpse a massive scarab monster, Khepri, crawling toward the heroes, hinting at the potential scale of the boss fights in Temple of Osiris.
All in all, Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris looks to be quite the adventure, bringing back what we loved about Guardian of Light and more. No doubt we'll be seeing more before the game is finally out for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
Follow Lydia on Twitter @RabidChinaGirl or check out her news and reviews every day here on Neoseeker.