Developer: Square Enix Montreal
Platforms: IOS Universal, Android
I'll start with a confession: when I first saw the screenshots and footage of Hitman GO, my impressions weren't exactly positive. I'm a big fan of the stealth franchise and it seemed like such a weird direction to take. But then I played the game and realized it was a brilliant distillation of Hitman's stealth-puzzle DNA into an experience built from the ground up for mobile. So to say my hype and expectations for the Tomb Raider-themed follow-up were high would be an understatement.
Lara Croft GO not only exceeds those expectations, but also refines the turn-based puzzle template introduced in Hitman GO, all in a gorgeous isometric package.
Lara Croft GO visuals are just as impressive and polished as its gameplay. The board game aesthetic is gone, and in its place is a colorful isometric world filled with detail and life. Foliage sways in the breeze, lizards test the air with forked tongues, waterfalls drain out over cavernous drops. Each chapter, divided between different Mazes on your journey to a mysterious artifact, has a different visual tone, from the cliff-side ruins of the Maze of Snakes to the underground ruins and murky swamps of other levels. That visual polish even extends to the stylish menu and minimalist UI. An atmospheric soundtrack completes the engrossing presentation.
If there's one gripe, it's that the game lacks the replay value of Hitman GO, with no collectibles that require extra puzzling to reach, optional challenges, or move pars to beat. There are gems and hidden relics to find, which in turn unlock new outfits, but those are hidden in the background rather than extra gameplay elements. But I imagine those elements would tarnish the atmosphere and adventure vibe, so perhaps the experience is better without those aspects.
Lara Croft GO can be purchased for $4.99 (Also on Android).
*Okay, so Lara Croft GO is a slight deviation from the usual games I cover, but with a mobile game this good, I really wanted to share my impressions, and honestly I put it in the same category as Grow Home and Valiant Hearts, aka games from larger publishers that are more indie game-esque than their usual work.