Game Diary: Tomb Raider (2013) Week 4

So unfortunately there was an issue in playing through this week’s session which is that after playing through the entire thing in one play session, I found that my recording software didn’t record the audio and had to play through the entire week’s session again! (Curse you OBS *shakes fist*) To make matters worse, I saved over a small portion at the beginning of the session, so at least one clip will have to be a part of the silent recording. As for the rest, if it looks like I already know what I’m doing in the game, it’s because I’ve done it before! On the upside, my second time through I found not one, but two hidden tombs that I missed the first time! Anyway, this week I played through the Mountain Pass, Chasm Monastery, and the Shanty Town. So let’s take a look at what all happened.

Mountain Pass Recap

After a short walk Alex radios into Lara to attempt to cheer her up about the plane, stating that he’s sure there’s another way for them to get off this island. He also tells her they’ve tracked Sam down to a Japanese Palace and attempts to optimistically suggest that Sam is just sightseeing to which Lara tells him he’s a terrible liar. He tells her to be careful and she comes across a new campsite she can use to upgrade anything.

Past the campsite, Lara comes across some images etched into the walls along the path depicting a pilgrimage and a queen assumed to be Himiko. She comes to a bridge over a canyon leading to a broken down monastery that looks like it’s surrounded in a windstorm. Upon crossing the bridge, a cutscene reveals the other pilot is on the other side of the bridge bleeding out from a wound. Several oil canisters are suddenly thrown from the building onto the bridge and a man fires a fire arrow at the canisters causing the bridge to blow up and Lara to be knocked to the other side of the canyon. Mathias comes out now dressed in a much more primal looking cloak and stating that for a child, Lara has gotten in his way, but she is also very naive. He then orders his men to kill her. An enemy behind Lara knocks her out and just before they can kill her, someone shouts that the Oni Guardians are coming. Just as Lara drifts off into an unconscious she makes out the forms of giant being in armor killing all of the enemies. Lara then awakens later, once again hung upside down along several other corpses inside the monastery.

Mathias really looks like a cult leader

Mountain Pass Thoughts

This was an incredibly short section which was a bit of relief from all of the recent upscale action and was just long enough that I’m ready to get back into the action sequences again. The existence of the Oni (Japanese demons) signifies the existence of the supernatural in the game. Although I did know that in some of the older games there were some supernatural aspects such as the famous Hands of Midas Easter Egg, but I think it’s really cool to see a full on story acceptance of the supernatural as it opens so many more avenues into the game.

Chasm Monastery Recap

Much like the beginning of the game, Lara must escape by swinging back and forth, though this time the goal is to swing until she can grab onto the beam she is being hung from so she can pull herself out of her binds forcefully. Afterward she quickly hides in a nearby hole in the wall just as one of the Oni break into the room.

A look at one of the Oni

She then follows the hole in the wall that leads outside, where the windstorm is still blowing strongly. Upon one of the several corpses Lara finds a shotgun which is introduced as being able to destroy trench barricade type obstacles such as one blocking her path. Upon re-entering the building, Lara finds a grand chamber and remarks that she “hates tombs” before investigating the crypt in front of her and confirming the body of Queen Himiko is in the crypt and that this island actually was Yamatai. Looking around at the murals on the walls, Lara discerns their meaning as an ascension ritual depicting a fire sacrifice, a pilgrimage, a transference of power, and then the ascension.

“I hate tombs.” Also, apologies again for the silent clip

Lara is interrupted by a group of enemies dropping in from above giving a great opportunity to try out the new shotgun in combat. After defeating the enemies, she presses on by firing a rope arrow at a nearby bell to knock it into a barred of gate forcing it open. Crawling through the rubble, Lara finds another campfire site and overhears more of the soldiers above being attacked by the Oni.

“True happiness is finding a shotgun in a video game”

Moving on, Lara will step outside once again and be forced to sidle a precarious ledge against the wall to make her way around. Re-entering into a large room with a few bells, two enemies take cover and attempt to call for a truce with Lara to escape the Oni together, but shortly after decide that it’s a waste of time and attempt to just kill her anyway. After killing them, Lara can climb up to the upper landing of the room where there is a large bell hovering over a large gateway on the floor below, and a small bell wrapped in rope hanging nearby. There’s also two windows with mechanisms for opening and closing. In order to proceed, Lara has to open one window, then use a rope arrow to throw the small bell into a support beam, then close that window and do the same with just the other window open. More enemies will arrive at this point to fight off, after which Lara must open both windows and throw the small bell into the large bell knocking it down and opening the gate below.

Another look at one of the Onis

Lara’s bad luck turns up again as she is immediately knocked into the now open pit leading directly into an escape sequence as she runs through a hallway as the windstorm tears the place apart. Reaching the end of the hallway where the wall is gone, Lara jumps out to a wood bridge below which immediately falls apart and drops her into a slope leading into a cave right back in the Mountain Village once again. Lara stops to catch her breath and receives a radio transmission from Sam. Sam explains to her that she’s been kidnapped, but managed to get a radio off one of the guards and that they’ve been saying something about a fire ritual like the one in the mural. Lara radios into Roth and he says he’s on his way to the palace now and that the rest of the crew is there as well. Lara steps out of the cave and finds another campfire.

Being thrown from one bad situation to the next

Lara comes across three paths out here, the center path leading directly into some enemies, the right path leading to some salvage, and the left path leads to a high ground allowing you to take down the enemies much easier. Continuing into a small building, Sam calls in on the radio again and you overhear the guards taking the radio from her. Further on you get to another group of enemies that aren’t aware of you and most of them are standing around a large pool of fuel which can be lit and take them all out at once. A path on the left leads to more enemies below who will start to come up upon hearing either the explosion or the gunfire, and a path to the right leads to high ground once again to either easily take out the enemies or to just slip past them.

I’d be terrified too

Lara continues further to find a river that must be crossed, however as she attempts to cross it the current pulls her downward into an action sequence going from navigating the rapids full of deadly plane pieces, to landing in a cockpit hanging over a cliff where Lara quickly grabs a nearby parachute before the glass breaks and drops her below. After pulling the chute, she must navigate around several trees. At the end, she hits a tree and falls from one branch to another before landing on the ground with a wound in her side. She stands up to find herself in the Shanty Town.

#LaraLuck

Chasm Monastery Thoughts

So a couple thoughts on this area as well as the Mountain Village area, although there were a couple fighting moments, it definitely seemed more geared towards being a puzzle area. I did have a lot of fun with the area involving several paths and finding the best path to taking down all of the enemies. Taking enemies by surprise from above is actually very satisfying.

Ninja Lara

I also found a hidden collectible that dropped a big piece of information as it was a letter from Reyes to Roth telling him that he was actually the father of her teenaged daughter. This confirms that they were not only in a relationship, but they have been in a relationship for quite a long time.

The plot thickens

Then there’s the river rapid portion. On my first playthrough I actually died several times on this segment, and it took a lot of trial and error to find the best path to take for it, but once I figured out the best path it was much easier and on my second playthrough I managed it on the first try.

Lastly, let me talk about the shotgun! It very quickly became my new favorite weapon, as it’s incredibly satisfying to force enemies to funnel and take them down with single shots.

Shanty Town Recap

Lara is now injured and unable to climb in her current state, but sights a rundown helicopter in the distance which may have some supplies. She starts by wading through some dirty water under some buildings and overhearing a Somalian man interrogating a prisoner and asking about an “old man” that escaped. The prisoner says he knows nothing and is promptly killed and his body is dumped and lands right next to Lara. Upon coming out of the water, Lara fights several enemies leading to the helicopter where she searches to no avail at finding first aid. Instead she finds to my horror, a lighter. She uses the lighter to burn an arrowhead before using it to cauterize her wound. Afterward, now keeping the lighter, Lara now has access to fire arrows. Roth then calls her on the radio where Lara updates him on where she is, explaining she got to the bottom of the mountain already due to a “long story.”

Definitely a situation I’d hate to find myself in

She immediately gets a chance to use her fire arrows as a group of enemies begin to make their way towards her while walking over a pool of oil. After torching them, you now have to fight several large waves of enemies which is the beginning of a trend in this segment. After fighting them all off, you are now able to fully explore the large wide area of the shanty town full of collectibles, weapon pieces, and salvage. This is where one of the hidden tombs can be found.

Fire arrows are a welcome addition to our repertoire

After reaching the gate to the next area, it shuts on Lara and more waves of enemies come out and must be fought off before continuing where she finds another campfire and a scene in the background where she sees several men chasing after someone they call the “old man.” Getting closer, Lara realizes this old man is Grim and he is making very quick work of the men chasing him. Lara attempts to climb the ladder up to Grim when more enemies show up and throw dynamite at the ladder blowing it up. Grim tells Lara to watch out and take them all out leading to another series of waves of enemies as well as a mounted alarm mechanism at the top of a nearby building where enemies may go up to and spawn more enemies. After fighting them off, Grim advises Lara she can get up to where he is by following a cargo transport around.

Grim is so cool

Going around and fighting several enemies along the way, another hidden tomb can be found in this area. At the end, Lara must ride on top of a hanging cargo box as it moves around a line, and as she reaches the end, Grim comes out and warns Lara of a trap ahead and tells Lara to show them her teeth. Fighting another few waves of enemies, three eventually come out with one of them holding Grim and a sword to his throat demanding Lara put down her weapons. Grim tells her not to do it and ends up headbutting the man holding him and knocking him out, then takes his sword to kill the next man and finally tackles the last man off the cliff where Lara presumes he dies.

I’m sure he’s fine

Carrying on further, Lara begins to cross a zipline, but some enemies show up and begin to cut the line. After it’s cut, Lara clings onto a cliff, but one of the enemies has a bow and is about to kill her when suddenly both of them take shots to the head and die. After climbing up, Lara sees that it was Roth who is armed with a sniper rifle. She tells Roth about Grim’s death, and Roth agrees to help Lara get to the palace saying she will have to climb around under the bridge while he uses his sniper to take out the enemies above. Upon reaching the other side of the bridge, more enemies show and a short escape sequence comes up leading to the Cavern Entrance.

This entire section was so tense

Shanty Town Thoughts

So first off I want to say that I am thermophobic, so the scene involving the use of the lighter to cauterize the wound definitely hurt on an emotional level to see even though they did cut away at the moment of impact. I did make a lot of use of the fire arrows in combat though, as I already really enjoyed using the bow before, but now I can ignite flammable objects and set enemies on fire directly and it just makes it even better.

Really making good use of the fire arrows here

Secondly I want to say that this is by far my favorite section of the game so far. Not only did it have a lot of fun combat sequences, but the Shanty Town is laid out in a way that can best be described as a parkour playground. There’s so many levels and areas to explore that it looks like it was taken straight out of an Assassin’s Creed game. And it was a stroke of luck that I ended up finding the hidden tomb in it all, which was actually located near the end gate.

The first tomb was a weight puzzle that involved throwing several canisters up to a lift to weight it down, then while holding the lift down myself, throw a canister off, then run off and up a nearby ramp to jump up onto the lift as it climbs back up and use it to jump onto a nearby ledge and get the treasure.

Took a few tries for me to get it right

The second tomb was also a weight puzzle that involved throwing canisters up onto broken down shelves to knock down more canisters to use in weighing down a seesaw that could be used as a jumping ramp up to the treasure.

Just gotta fill the bucket

The scenes involving Grim gave me a great amount of respect for his character. I love when a story hosts and old man who can take on several enemies at once and I really hope that they reveal he is still alive because he definitely earned his survival.

The section involving going under the bridge was really cool. In hindsight it was just moving, then stopping when told like a game of red light, green light. But it was very different than what we would normally do which is shooting our way through, especially after all of the firefights we had just done leading up to that point!

Like a true action hero

Final Thoughts

A document from Mathias I found in Shanty Town

All in all, I had a lot of fun with this play session, and it seems like both the story and the action are really starting to heat up and I find myself really wanting to know what else the game has in store for me in the upcoming sessions! The inclusion of the Oni and the idea of supernatural powers and beings coming into the story definitely makes me want to know where this is all headed to and how it will all end! And as much fun as I had with the shotgun, I’ve been making great use of the melee ability I now have, though a shotgun is still good for multiple enemies. I’ve also learned through Lara’s dialogue upon finding the tombs that the enemy group that I’m fighting against call themselves the Solarii.

Which brings me to next week’s session where I will be playing through the Cavern Entrance, Geothermal Caverns, and the Solarii Fortress. And if you want to play along or try it out for yourself, you can buy the game here on Humble Bundle where a portion of your payment will go towards charity, and another portion will help support me!

If you have a suggestion for another game you’d like to see done in the Game Diary, please comment your suggestions below. I may or may not accept all requests, but the game you suggest could be my next. The general rules are as follows:

  • The game cannot be too long
  • The game must have a clear ending
  • The game must have intrigue beyond gameplay (i.e. Match 3 games won’t work out)
  • It must be a game I’ve never played before (No real way to tell without suggesting it first though!)

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