Since its inception in 1996, Tomb Raider has evolved from a revolutionary action-adventure title into a diverse and robust media franchise. It cemented its place in pop culture, encompassing not only games but also comic books, novels, and blockbuster films. The latest addition, “Tomb Raider Reloaded”, was released globally on February 14, 2023 and represents the eighth spin-off in the series, developed by Emerald City Games and published by CDE Entertainment. The game, which is available on iOS, Android, and also as part of the Netflix Games service, stands as a testament to the enduring popularity of the series.
While Tomb Raider Reloaded was initially soft-launched in select countries, it now enjoys worldwide availability, allowing fans across the globe to engage with the iconic Lara Croft in a new medium. This release underscores the franchise’s impressive reach, spawning numerous games on various platforms, merchandise, and even slots at some of the best mobile casinos in the UK, such as the All British Casino, all themed around its adventurous protagonist.
The series’ expansion into other entertainment avenues continues to showcase its versatility and appeal. Notably, “Tomb Raider: The Live Experience” in London has won acclaim, further illustrating the franchise’s ability to captivate audiences beyond the screen. As Tomb Raider Reloaded joins the ranks, it carries the legacy forward, offering a fresh experience while drawing on the rich history that has made it a household name.
Embarking on an isometric adventure in “Tomb Raider Reloaded,” players assume the role of the legendary archaeologist Lara Croft, diving into the depths of ancient ruins and forgotten realms. The storyline echoes the narrative roots of the original 1996 game, propelling Lara on a quest to uncover the secrets of the lost kingdom of Atlantis.
Lara’s journey unfolds across a series of dynamically changing levels, where the goal is to locate three parts of an Atlantean artefact – known as the Scion – scattered across different countries. The initial campaign release presented players with nine chapters divided into two acts, set in the exotic locales of Peru and Greece, with the promise of future updates to continue the storyline in Egypt.
As players navigate through these chapters, they encounter various challenges, including fierce enemies, intricate puzzles, and elaborate traps. To aid in her quest, Lara can access a dedicated weapon crafting system, allowing for the creation and enhancement of high-tier weapons and armour. The game draws heavily from the Tomb Raider legacy, featuring classic locations such as the City of Vilcabamba and St. Francis’ Folly, along with characters like Winston and Anaya Imanu, who offer stat boosts to assist Lara on her perilous journey.
Progression in the game is tied to customising and upgrading Lara’s gear between runs, with a variety of weapons and equipment that influence the gameplay. Players can select different weapons like shotguns, chakrams, and pistols, each offering distinct tactical advantages. Other gear includes ammunition types, backpacks for health improvement, masks for unique ultimate abilities, amulets, and bracelets that grant various buffs and abilities.
Pricing and Monetization
Tomb Raider Reloaded approaches monetization with a model common to many free-to-play mobile games. While it can be downloaded at no cost on Android and iOS platforms, it incorporates an ‘energy’ system and over ten types of in-game currencies such as Coins, Gems, Tokens, and Manuals. These are utilised for various purposes, including miscellaneous upgrades, unlocking gear, and acquiring bonuses. This system can impose limitations on how much one can play without real-money purchases, as the energy design restricts gameplay unless replenished, which can be accelerated through transactions.
This monetization strategy has been a point of contention, as it introduces a potential barrier to uninterrupted gameplay. However, Tomb Raider Reloaded offers ways to mitigate this through its gameplay design. Players can earn currencies and gear at a pace that reduces the need to spend money. Additionally, identical pieces of gear can be combined to upgrade them to a new rarity level, allowing for progression without financial investment.
A notable aspect of Tomb Raider Reloaded’s monetization is the availability of the entire game without in-app purchases through Netflix Games. With a Netflix subscription, players can bypass the monetization mechanics that are otherwise present in the mobile version, allowing them to enjoy the game without the encumbrance of microtransactions.
- Roguelike Gameplay: For the first time in the series, Tomb Raider Reloaded introduces roguelike elements, with procedurally generated stages that offer a unique experience with each run. The gameplay is a mix of strategy and action, where players navigate through levels, avoiding traps and defeating enemies to progress. The roguelike nature ensures no two runs are exactly the same, offering fresh challenges and gameplay variety.
- Upgrade & Progression System: The game features a deep upgrade system that allows for both run-specific and permanent improvements to weapons, abilities, and gear. Players can collect items and equipment of varying rarity types – Common, Uncommon, Rare, and Epic – and level them up using in-game currencies like coins and manuals. This system encourages players to engage in multiple runs to enhance their gear and overall survival capabilities
- Auto-Fire Combat & Puzzle Solving: Combat in Tomb Raider Reloaded is designed to be intuitive, with Lara automatically firing at enemies within range. Players focus on movement, dodging, and using the environment to their advantage. Puzzles are integrated into the levels, requiring quick thinking and action to solve under time constraints.
- Exploration Rewards: After completing stages, players can claim exploration rewards, which often contain valuable gear and resources. These incentives are designed to reward progress and provide a boost for upcoming challenges. Players must remember to claim these rewards from the in-game menu to take full advantage of the benefits they offer.
- Crafting System: Crafting adds a layer of depth to the progression system, as players must decide how to best use their resources to craft gear that complements their playstyle and helps overcome the game’s challenges.
- Variety of Enemies: The presence of diverse enemies forces players to continually develop new strategies and approaches, ensuring that the gameplay remains dynamic and challenging.
- Simplified Game Modes: The straightforward structure of the game ensures that players can easily understand their objectives and focus on the core gameplay mechanics of exploration, combat, and progression.