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Tomb Raider Anniversary

Good Donut Writing is officially 1 year old! And what better way to celebrate than to recommend a fitting piece of media? For GD’s final weekly rec I give you: Tomb Raider Anniversary.

I’ve been a huge fan of Tomb Raider games since I was a kid, watching my sister play the very pixelated, old games as I did nothing but scream whenever enemies would show up out of the blue. It was a time before we had the luxury of reading walkthroughs, so we were pretty much on our own, and that meant getting stuck on a level for months on end. Despite not being allowed to touch the game for fear of messing it up, I still secretly tried playing it on my own and actually passed one such complicated level, earning me the chance to play along with my sister. Since then, we’ve devoured each release (up until they got too good for our shabby computer and had to stop unless we wanted to set it on fire).

When Anniversary was released, we were beyond excited. Being essentially a beautiful remake of the first Tomb Raider game, Anniversary takes you on a journey of reminiscing while also giving you plenty of new things to play with – like Lara’s grapple and what you can do with it, or the slow-mo shooting you can do to really damage your enemies.

The story is simple: Archeologist extraordinaire Lara Croft embarks on a new journey to find an artifact her late father had been looking for: the Scion, which we learn is split into several parts all over the world. With information from Jacqueline Natla, owner of Natla Technologies, about where one part of the Scion is, Lara sets off to Peru, where we begin our adventure.

The Tomb Raider games have always had a level of magic to them, so this one is no different. Although for the first part of the game, things are strange but not supernaturally dubious, once we get to places like Greece or Egypt, we run into a horde of creepy mythical and mystical creatures like centaurs and cat mummies. Okay, so it starts a bit before, as we finish off Peru with dinosaurs, but oh well. It only gets weirder from there as Lara ends up in what is basically Atlantis, fighting off gross demonic creatures, a giant dude that looks straight out of Attack on Titan, as well as her own doppelganger and a flying, angry queen of Atlantis. Fun times.

Visually, this game is absolutely spectacular. The scenery is beautifully rendered for every location you end up exploring, blessing you with sights of waterfalls and greenery, snowy mountains, deserts, pyramids and Greek temples. Have a look at the gallery and see for yourself:

The story is enjoyable as well, especially as you know you have to hunt down three artifacts and so have very clear goals set for the duration of the game. The relationships Lara has with the other characters in the story (like mercenary Larson or rival archeologist Pierre) add flesh to the game’s story that makes it a lot more entertaining to play. It feels more like a playable movie to me, especially once you get to the mysterious island and get stripped of weapons and forced to take out the person you kind of liked in a weird way. I feel like Lara’s reaction to having to kill said person had so much potential to be explored further, but alas, the game comes first, the story second I guess. Still, it’s a great rendition of the usual story structure of escalating action to a point of no return, only to have Lara give a final push and prevail in the end.

What I love a lot about this game, and TR games in general, is the mythology behind them. The history of the places Lara visits has always fascinated me, which is probably why I had an Ancient Egypt phase as a kid. For Anniversary, I particularly like the Greece levels with the 4 doorways – Poseidon, Damocles, Hephaestus, and Atlas – as they are each designed to represent their namesakes, and I find the concept of interactive education super fun.

Although it’s easier to play now that I’m older, when it first came out I found it quite hard in certain parts, especially once you get to Egypt and the Island. There are loads of timed moments, some of which you don’t really have to take part in unless you want to find the relics and artifacts that give you bonus content like concept art and outfits, and the boss enemies can get quite annoying to defeat unless you’re really good on the controls. Nevertheless, trying and failing and trying again is part of the fun!

You can also explore Croft Manor, and I love that you have more access than in Legend as you can go outside as well to a beautiful garden with a really cool maze. The goal of the Croft Manor level and the puzzles within it are also super fun. My advice is to play it at night, it gives off such a nice, magical atmosphere, especially when you’re in the maze.

The soundtrack is, as any other Tomb Raider game, absolutely wonderful. It really captures the mood for each level and event within the story, making playing the game that much more enjoyable.

In all, Anniversary is one of those games you play out of sense of nostalgia, if you want to have fun and test your skills. It’s easy enough not to frustrate you, but hard enough to give you a challenge. And hey, it’s perfect for traveling to far away, scenic places, without leaving the comforts of your home.

And with this anniversary post, I wrap up a year of Good Donut weekly recs. It’s been a fun year, and I’m very happy I got to talk about all these shows and books and games and movies I hold so dear to my heart. Although I said at the beginning it’s the final rec, I only mean it as the final weekly one. GD will continue to put out recs, although not as often or on a schedule as before. Whenever I find something worth recommending, be sure I’ll post about it!

Thank you for sticking with me for a year! I’ll see you soon!