Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris PS4 Review
Publisher: Square Enix Developer: Crystal Dynamics Genre: Action Adventre Players: 1-4
Age Rating: 12+ Other console/handheld formats: Xbox One
In this Lara Croft spin-off series of games comes the sequel to The Guardian of Light, The Temple of Osiris, which sees Lara teaming up with rival archaeologist Carter Bell as they set out to help two gods – Isis (Osiris’s wife) and Horus (Osiris’s son) – to defeat an evil entity called Set, Osiris’s brother. In order to do this each of the four characters must work together to search for the missing pieces of Osiris’s body, which was torn apart by Set and distributed around various tombs, and put him back together to resurrect him.
The story tries to retell the Egyptian myth of Osiris over the course of the game, though it is one that most players will likely not pay any attention to, wanting instead to get straight into the gameplay. Who enjoys history anyway? The story as a whole is passable and as tedious as it may be, it at least does not obstruct the gameplay, and scenes can be skipped. The gameplay takes place in an isometric environment, a top-down view allowing for you to see what is happening in the surrounding areas. The level design isn’t the most awe-inspiring, but they are still detailed enough, and with puzzles to solve and the addictive feeling you get collecting the many gems to be found, the gameplay style is very compelling.
In single player mode you take control of Lara as she explores various tombs to find the pieces of Osiris, and whilst some people compare this game to Trine, unlike Trine it is a shame that you cannot take control of any of the other characters, making them feel rather pointless; they tend to stand around while Lara does her hero thing and it is amusing when Lara is speaking to them, but they are nowhere to be seen. Instead, Lara comes with her usual set of weapons, plus is able to use the special Staff that Isis and Horus would use, and even though Lara is the main heroine of the game, it would have been logical to be able to switch between characters and take advantage of all of their skills, as opposed to solely using Lara, and would have made for more interesting puzzle solving. Still, all the characters make their mark in the multiplayer, where the game really shines.
The Temple of Osiris is at its best in the newly expanded multiplayer and with up to four players being able to play at one time, it certainly makes the adventure much more fun. Depending on how many players join a game, the levels change to adapt to their abilities; each level is designed with each characters specific skills in mind, with the characters needing to work together in some cases in order to overcome obstacles and complete a level. The only problem with playing with others is that, even though you are not sharing the same screen, it feels like the characters are tethered together, as you cannot go off to explore on your own, and if you somehow move off-screen, this will cause the other characters to glitch through the map to your location or to certain death. As fun as it is to play with friends, it can be frustrating if you want to investigate a particular area that could be vital in solving a puzzle, but can’t as you are restricted to staying with the others. Still, this is only a minor problem, and does not impact on the enjoyment of the game, especially when competing to complete your individual challenges.
Lara comes equipped with her usual dual pistols, and other weapons can be found as the game progresses, such as a rifle and sub-machine gun, among others. Lara also comes equipped with a rope and torch, with the torch being used to light dim areas – and being put to novel use during the final boss – and the rope being used to grapple along walls and used in a way that allows other characters to jump onto and walk along it to other platforms or areas. Carter comes with the same arsenal of weapons as Lara. Isis and Horus, on the other hand, come equipped with a magical Staff that can be used to slow down time and elevate platforms. The Staff can also be used as a weapon, with a laser beam shooting from the Staffs pinnacle and killing anything in its way. The beam is also used to distinguish glowing orbs that sometimes obstruct the path and the beam is certainly fun to use when breaking multiple vases.
The puzzles featured aren’t the most head-scratching to solve, with most requiring you to move another type of special orb to a specific location in order to gain access the next area, all whilst avoiding the many booby traps. Some puzzles can be a bit frustrating; there are explosive orbs that need to be used at certain points to clear blocked paths and, strangely, you have to use your bombs to shoot the orbs across to the desired location. As you do this, the bombs decrease the time of the orb until it explodes; this timing can be slowed using the Staff, though this way of manoeuvring an orb does require a bit of patience to get it to where it is needed and isn’t really the most logical or clever of puzzle designs in the game.
The exploration and puzzle solving is split up by action sequences in which Lara and co have to evade another evil entity known as Ammit, a gigantic crocodile-like creature that is hot on their tracks thanks to a mark branded onto Lara and Carter’s hands. These sequences are very intense and certainly leave a sense of relief when you finally reach the other end. These sections could easily have been overused though thankfully they are few and far between, and the overall pacing of the game is consistent, with no sudden jumps in difficulty levels, slowly building to an epic climax.
The levels are all connected by a central hub world, and it is here that the pieces of Osiris are put together. The hub world is large and has its own puzzles that need to be solved in order to open up different areas to explore, and to reach later tombs. The hub world encourages you to explore and collect gems, hidden in various breakable vases or enemies, which can then be used to open treasure chests located around the hub and in the levels themselves. These chests contain special items, mostly amulets and rings, that help to enhance each characters’ abilities, such as increasing the range of the bomb blast or regenerating health, though the effects of these items are not particularly noticeable. The hub worlds, as mentioned, are very large and it is easy to get lost, and even though there are statues that point you in the right direction, it can still be a bit annoying when trying to find your next objective.
There are many enemies featured in the game with some memorable bosses and one fantastic final battle featuring all the key players. The enemies in the game are very well designed and are certainly memorable, and with much variety, it keeps the game from feeling bogged down by repetition. From flaming scarabs and sword-welding skeletons to bomb-throwing crocodiles and a battle with a giant dung beetle – on a large piece of dung – the enemies certainly bring the game to life and add some much needed surrealism to a story about mystical ancient Egyptian gods.
There are also many collectables to find, including Red Skulls, and Canopic Jars that can be left by other players. There are also other challenges that can be completed throughout, such as achieving a bronze, silver or gold score, defeating a boss under a certain time limit or completing a level under a certain time. Reaching these goals will reward you with extra goodies, such as a new weapon or upgrades, and whilst these extras might not matter to the more casual player, they will certainly be welcome for those hardcore completists.
As mentioned, weapons can be found throughout the adventure and there is a lot of variety in the guns that can be found. From the usual weapons, such as the assault rifle to sub-machine gun, to the more powerful flame thrower and grenade launcher, you can hold up to four weapons at a time, making both Lara and Carter a a one-man (or woman) army. You can also find ammo replenishments, which there is an abundance of but that doesn’t need collecting often as it seems each weapon can hold an unlimited amount of ammo rounds, meaning you don’t need to reload very often, if at all. It’s certainly good fun spraying your bullets at the onslaught of enemies – and there can be many enemies on-screen – though considering they are in tombs that haven’t been explored in millennia, the amount of ammo that can be found and held is rather too generous.
However, despite this abundance of ammo, it can still be very easy to become overwhelmed by enemies and die, and the cost of dying is your score – for every death, you lose a certain amount from your score, therefore making it less likely you will achieve those bronze, silver or gold achievements mentioned earlier, though this won’t be a bother to those who are only playing for the entertainment value and not the challenge. When you die, you also do not automatically respawn and need to press the X button in order to continue playing, allowing you to either rejoin the game or take a break. The controls are also smooth, and once you have adjusted to the aiming and shooting mechanics, the controls feel very natural to handle.
The game overall is addictive in its gameplay and will have you hooked for hours at a time, and being able to play with friends will also compel you to come back for more. This isn’t the most significant game in Lara’s back catalogue of adventures, and even though the PC version is receiving a lot of negative attention for its various bugs and glitches, this PS4 version runs without too many problems and is a very enjoyable fair with lots to offer.