The Lara Croft Collection review - Fantastic port of two amazing classics
Tomb Raider, the iconic franchise that revolutionized narrative-driven action-adventure genre of games, has finally made its Nintendo Switch debut with The Lara Croft Collection. The package contains two of the most best classics of the series, Lara Croft & the Temple of Osiris and Lara Croft & the Guardian of Light, bundled alongside a robust co-op mode.
I've always wanted to see the Tomb Raider games arrive on the Nintendo Switch. Given the puzzle-platforming gameplay that the series excels in, it is the right fit for a handheld device. Although I wished to see the new Tomb Raider games on the Switch, the classic isometric titles are a good start.
The Switch port is also a great way to revisit these classic action-adventure/puzzle-platformers, which I remember from the early days of my childhood. I mostly play my Switch in handheld, and the Lara Croft Collection felt like a game that's purpose-built for such play.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time playing the Lara Croft Collection; however, these are not perfect games, far from it. Given that both of these are basically Switch ports with little to no changes, they suffer from the same issues that plagued the original console and PC release. These include lack of an engaging story, repetitive puzzles, bland (and rather dated) visuals, and more.
The Lara Croft Collection is a fantastic Nintendo Switch port of the classic isometric Tomb Raider games
A top-tier Nintendo Switch port
First and foremost, The Lara Croft Collection is a fantastic Switch port, something that is very rare for ports of third-party titles for Nintendo's hybrid console. In both, the docked as well as the handheld mode, there are rarely any frame drops or performance-related hitches. Also, as an added bonus for handheld players, the game consumes very little battery.
I remember playing it for four hours straight on my Nintendo Switch OLED, at medium brightness and a headset connected, which only drained 35% of the battery. If you're looking for a quality game for the Switch that you can play while commuting without worrying too much about the console's battery, you just can't go wrong with The Lara Croft Collection.
The isometric viewpoint of these games also serves really well for handheld play. On the Switch OLED, the dark dungeons and dimly-lit halls, really pop, making the experience even more immersive. However, if you're looking for something a bit more modern-looking, perhaps on the same scale as Crystal Dynamics' Tomb Raider reboot trilogy, you won't find that here.
Charming art style masks the rather dated visuals
These games are simply a higher resolution port of the original console release, which isn't a bad thing, per se. This is especially true when considering the stylized nature of the art style in The Lara Croft Collection titles have aged like a fine wine. Believe me when I tell you, the screenshots of these titles on the Nintendo eShop or even Steam for that matter, do not do the art style justice.
Moving on from the game's visual presentation, we have the audio and soundtrack, which, for my money, is flawless. I've always liked the classic Tomb Raider soundtracks, and the ones featured in the Guardian of Light and the Temple of Osiris are no exception. Apart from the soundtracks, the game's audio in general is very crisp and properly balanced for headphones.
Although the games included in the Lara Croft Collection are more than a decade old, they're still pretty engaging single-player action-adventure titles that still hold up pretty well. They are essentially the classic Tomb Raider games, but with an isometric perspective and a higher emphasis on puzzles over combat.
Puzzles take precedence over gunplay
There is plenty of combat in both these titles, with a massive arsenal of weapons at the titular character Lara Croft's disposal. However, the moment-to-moment gameplay here is geared more towards the element of mystery and puzzle-solving, rather than bombastic action and firefight. And as such, the puzzles are the true highligh in both these games.
From basic traversal challenges to timing-based puzzles that require you to interact with the environment for an optimal way to progress ahead in the story, the puzzle design in both these titles is superb.
If you are a fan of the classic puzzle-platformers like the 3D Prince of Persia games, you will find plenty of similarities in the puzzle design of those games and The Lara Croft Collection.
Even some of the combat encounters are designed as puzzles, giving you multiple ways to approach the enemies and take them out without spending too many resources. There are also upgrades for you to unlock as you progress through the story in both these titles. However, what is missing is a robust narrative that connects every gameplay segment.
Lack of an engaging storyline
Don't get me wrong, the games included in the Lara Croft Collection do feature their own narrative. However, it's just not nearly as engaging as the recent Tomb Raider titles or even Lara Croft's original adventures back on PlayStation 1, Dreamcast, and Sega Saturn days.
The story is very surface-level and basic, but it does feature the hallmarks of the a typical Tomb Raider premise. What it lacks is the cinematic flair that you'd expect from a full-fat Tomb Raider title. Apart from the story, the Lara Croft Collection games also suffer from repetitiveness, when it comes to the gameplay.
Although I really enjoyed the puzzles that both Temple of Osiris and Guardian of Light had to offer, I can't deny the fact that there were instances when I felt kinda bored playing them. This was in part due to the lackluster story, but also due to the rehashed puzzles. Apart from these minor gripes, The Lara Croft Collection is a fantastic addition to the Nintendo Switch catalog.
The Lara Croft Collection is a stellar port of two of the most amazing Tomb Raider classics. Although the games do feel a little dated when it comes to their visuals and gameplay structure, the immaculate puzzle design, fantastic soundtrack, and a charming art style make up for their shortcomings. The titles are also very well-optimized for the Nintendo Switch, especially for the console's handheld mode.
If you're looking for an action-adventure title with puzzle-platforming elements or simply want a game for the Nintendo Switch to kill time during commute that does not burn through the console's battery, you cannot go wrong with The Lara Croft Collection.
The Lara Croft Collection
Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch (Review copy provided by Feral Interactive)
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Developer(s): Crystal Dynamics, Feral Interactive
Publisher(s): Feral Interactive
Release date: June 29, 2023