Developer: Crystal Dynamics | Publisher: Square Enix | Price: $59.99 | Played On: PlayStation 4 | ESRB: Mature [Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language]
Maybe I am ‘that’ type of Croft…
I remembered being on a ship. I was sitting in a room, all by myself, headphones on with music blaring. Suddenly there was rushing water. I can still feel the coldness of the ocean, the thunder roaring above, and the constant struggle to catch my breath. Somehow I managed to make it to shore and all I could see was debris, the rain otherwise blinding me. Then there was a thud and it all went dark…
I awoke to find myself tied up, upside down in a dim cave. “What did you get yourself into Lara?,” I thought. Eventually I made my way outside, narrowly escaping death at the hands of a brute. All I could think about was my friends. Where were they?
I was on an expedition with a crew, trying to find the lost kingdom of Yamatai. There was Roth, the captain leading the voyage I deemed a mentor; my close friend Sam, whose family was paying for the excursion since they were curious about their Yamatain ancestry; and a few others. They all had generic and bland personalities, but they were good people.
I had to find them.
I managed to obtain a bow and arrow to hunt and protect myself. Using the bow was surprisingly easy; it was simple to aim and charge for extra force. Subsequently I was able to obtain guns, after a life-altering ordeal that set in motion how the rest of my time on the island was going to be. My survival instinct also kicked in, allowing me to spot objects of importance. I even used torches to light items on fire when I needed to clear paths.
As my adventure progressed, so did my skills in becoming a better hunter, survivor, or brawler. I learned how to carefully loot animals for more resources and I was, bizarrely, even able to carry more ammunition as I became more astute.
At times I’d feel the need to shout when I was switching weapons (“bow,” “pistol”) or “checking my map,” but I realized it was just easier, and smarter, to complete those actions quietly. The act of yelling out commands seemed peculiar and I want to say ‘gimmicky.’
During the night I’d make a base camp to take inventory of my supplies and change outfits. I’d use the salvage I found and loot I gathered from animals to upgrade my weapons (e.g. reinforce bow limbs for more damage or extend gun mags). I quickly learned I could conserve ammo and gain the upper hand by sneaking around. I effortlessly went in and out of cover when the situation called for it. If need be, I silently eliminated enemies from behind.
My trek was treacherous. Everything seemed to be continuously crushing down around me. It was so strange; one moment I’m standing on a rock and the next it crumbles beneath me and I’m in a rushing river, where I’m nearly impaled on sharp branches. The falls alone should have paralyzed me. But thanks to my quick reflexes I was able to survive these near-death experiences (I can just imagine how vicious and bloody the scene would look like if I wasn’t so swift).
When things would calm down, I’d use that time to take in my surroundings. It was breathtaking. I could see how the wind made the trees sway back and forth, how the light peeked through the trees, and how the water I waded through rippled. There was always this weird sense of déjà vu that told me it all looked so much more defined and clearer than before (60fps).
Yet there was one aspect that kept bothering me—besides the déjà vu. The few times I’ve managed to catch my reflection in the water, I saw something distinctly different about my face. My features just seemed… unfamiliar. It looked like I matured, as if I aged a number of years on the island, which was of course impossible as I was only there a few days.
Though I always knew I had to find the rest of my crew, I still took the time to explore the island to find relics and more salvage. There’s one particular tomb I remember, which I nicknamed The Tomb of the Lost Adventurer (DLC) that I found particularly interesting, although quite short.
When not exploring, there were these frantic out-of-the-blue shootouts that would spring up: multiple players on the field, separated into teams, blasting from all sides. These fights took place everywhere… I discovered eight new environments (DLC) only to be ambushed there too! I was sometimes tasked to kill the opposing group, take supplies to a base, or recover batteries. Thankfully I had surprises of my own: six new weapons at my disposal to defend myself. That said these battles had less fluidity to them compared to the rest of my adventure, if that makes any sense. They were more of a drag to deal with.
My adventure truly is a fascinating one: island inhabitants relentlessly attacking my friends and I, the Hollywoodesque-disasters that nearly killed me, the myth of the island itself, and the supernatural creatures that people are hard-pressed to believe even exist. As for the amount of people I had to hurt along the way… I remember telling Roth how surprisingly easy it was… because I needed it to be—I had to survive and save my friends.
What happened on that island is what made me the explorer that I am today. It’s my story; it’s one that’s raw and significant to me. And it’s one worth listening to at least once. But if you’ve heard my tale before, hang tight—I’ll have a new story to tell you soon.