I never did get to check out Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, but I’d heard so much good about it from so many people that I was excited when a code for the sequel showed up in my inbox.
I was looking forward to some cooperative gameplay, whether it was local or online, and to seeing a campier take on the gaming icon. While Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris certainly has its charm, though, it has a hard time living up to the legacy set by its predecessor.
A Strong Start
Temple of Osiris is, like Guardian of Light, a cooperative game, through and through. While you can technically play it on your own, you need to be the hardest of the hardcore Lara Croft fans to make that worthwhile. Whether you’re going to play it locally or online, though, I highly recommend making sure you have a cooperative partner before taking this on.
The game has a lot of checkboxes ticked ahead of time that I’d love to see from games like this – use of Egyptian mythology that at least makes an effort to pull from actual mythology as a starting point to build the story, solid art, and cooperative play.
You and your friend play as Lara Croft, a guy named Carter, or one of two Egyptian gods, Horus and Isis – Osiris’ son and wife, respectively. Together, you and up to three other players must reassemble the Osiris statue and battle Set.
Temple of Osiris starts out pretty interesting. The rules of co-op are established quickly and work well. The archaeologists are the more mobile of the characters, with a grappling hook that lets them swing and climb, and a torch that is used for exploration and lighting things on fire to solve puzzles. The gods on the other hand, have staves that let them fire out a constant beam of energy that both serves as a weapon and a way to interact with unreachable switches. The staff can also be used to create an energy bubble that can act as a shield or a stepping stone.
These lead to a lot of fun cooperative interactions – remotely manipulating switches and platforms to assist your partner, as well as throwing out tight ropes and things like that make cooperative play feel very necessary. The game adjusts for single player, but is definitely made for co-op.
If you’re enjoying the game, there are also tons of items to collect and unlock – rings and amulets that will give you different buffs and affect your weapons differently, adding things like spread shot and fire shot to your rounds.
Running out of Steam
About halfway through, though, the game started to become more tedious. As I played, I wasn’t enjoying my time with it, despite enjoying the company of my partner. It felt less like we were there to play the game and more the game was just something to do to pass the time while we talked. As a result, when talk became focused on the game, some of the fun drained out as well.
One especially long boss fight which, to its credit, took place on top of a giant ball of dung being pushed by an even bigger scarab, highlighted this as we spent nearly 10 minutes fighting and slowly draining the boss’ overly long lifebar.
In addition to the puzzles that line the main story, there are also challenge rooms you can enter to pick up some more gems (used for buying buff items) and permanent upgrades to health and ammo. We did a few of the challenges while we were playing, and a couple were actually pretty fun, but another was more trouble than it was worth.
We wandered into the challenge not knowing it was a challenge, thinking it was part of the game, and spent about half an hour being frustrated. Not because the puzzle was perplexing, though.
Even when you’re playing online and not locally, the game forces you and your partner(s) to be on the same screen, visible to each other at all times. This resulted, at least in this particular room, in us getting stuck in opposite corners. My friend was behind a wall and I got stuck in moving water. To escape this, we had to kill ourselves by dropping a bunch of grenades. If a game is going to force us onto the same screen, we should get an option akin to New Super Mario Bros. that allows us to reset ourselves without dying, rather than having to drop five bombs, one by one, to drain our life bars.
It’s one thing to get stuck on a puzzle because it’s difficult, but getting stuck on a puzzle because the puzzle can’t handle multiple users on screen if one of them takes a misstep is a different problem entirely.
Only for the Hardcore
Despite starting out fairly strong, Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris was ultimately disappointing considering the strong reputation of its predecessor.
The game is certainly competent – good art and a fun, campy premise make a good jumping off point. There isn’t enough variety in the puzzles to hold up to as much game as the team has built, though, making it a tough recommendation.
If you’re a huge fan of the character or are desperate for some local cooperative play on the new consoles, you might consider it, but for most, it won’t be worth the time. For the rest, though, there isn’t much here aside from a time waster when there’s a veritable flood of more interesting games available.
Disclaimer: We received a code for Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris for Xbox One from the publisher. We played about 60% of the game in online cooperative mode before writing this review.