Mobile gaming has evolved beyond what anyone thought would be possible 20 years ago. Today, the mobile gaming market is dominated by quick, intuitive games played right on our phones. The Lara Croft series has definitely seen its ups and downs, sure, but never seems to disappoint when it comes down to the core gameplay. Lara Croft Go is Square Enix's second attempt at the mobile gaming platform with the Tomb Raider franchise, following Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light. Lara Croft Go brings a different formula to the Tomb Raider franchise all together, and it works pretty well.
Mobile games are unable to give us high resolution graphics, so they tend to lean towards a more simplistic style. Lara Croft Go offers a variety of lush and eerie environments to explore. The art style of the levels are gorgeous and offers a more cartoon-like take on ancient tombs. Lara Croft's appearance isn't as detailed as I would have liked, though, since the camera is quite far from the character, it doesn't hinder your game experience too much.
The enemies that you encounter include spiders, snakes, and lizards - and are all fairly basic. None of the creatures differentiate much from one another visually. The environmental scenes featured throughout the game are beautiful and pleasant to look at, but the character models could have used a bit more creativity.
The soundtrack to this game is very subtle while working very well. It's a nice touch. While down in the catacombs in search of treasure, a faint yet relaxing melody plays and the lovely tune is perfectly suited for the game. Overall, the sound effects are excellent, going along very well with the graphics and gameplay elements. From the sound of rocks breaking under your feet to a spider hissing as it pounces at you, the audio is top notch. The musical scores you hear while playing Lara Croft Go make playing it that much more enjoyable.
As with every mobile game, or every game for that matter, controls are easily the most important aspect aside from gameplay. The controls here in Lara Croft Go are fluent and perfect for quick, on-the-go gaming. On the screen, there are paths with diamonds etched into them that indicate the path you are allowed to travel. You simply swipe the direction you wish to go and Lara maneuvers through your commands one diamond at a time. It's really as simple as that; no shaking your phone or tilting it a certain way - just swipe and go. While I am a fan of the simplistic aspect of the controls, it may seem a bit too dumbed down for those who want a much more immersive and controllable experience.
If you're expecting to get the full-on Tomb Raider experience from Lara Croft Go, then you will be greatly disappointed. Lara Croft Go takes a big step back action wise to focus on the more puzzle-related element of the franchise. At first these puzzles seem overly simplistic, but about a quarter of the way into the game I found myself having to walk away out of frustration... only to give the brain-busters a go later on. The game really challenges your intellect and forces you to examine the stage in its entirety. Whether it is determining how to maneuver your way through a series of challenging enemies or which switch moves which platform. All are challenging and leave you satisfied after every completion. If you are a fan of casual puzzlers that take on a twist, you will love this game.
When it comes to mobile gaming, most games are out there for .99¢, some are even free, so games with a $4.99 price tag must have some sort of replay value to make the buy worth it. If you're one to enjoy hunting down every collectible item within the levels, then this is definitely the game for you. However, if you want to be able to go back through the levels and play them from scratch, or in a different way... then, sorry, you'll be disappointed. There are quite a few treasures and relics, to be found hidden in the game's levels, though. You simply spot yellow vases scattered about and tap them with your finger to acquire the treasure inside. The relics in the game that are unique to each level usually have multiple pieces you'll be tasked with finding to completely piece it back together. Unfortunately I haven't quite been able to find every relic in the game, but there doesn't seem to be much reward for doing so aside from gaining an achievement and some bragging rights. The replay value could have been a whole lot more. Especially with the price of five bucks, it lacking this essential element may shy some people away.
If you are looking for an endlessly amusing puzzle game that will test your wits, then this is the game for you. There are definitely some minor flaws in the game, but the core gameplay is done extremely well. With a series of beautiful landscapes and soothing music, most casual gaming fans will have a blast with Lara Croft Go.