Lara Croft Go is one of the purest Tomb Raider experiences you can play

2018 will see the release of a brand new Tomb Raider movie, which will officially be…takes a deep breath … a reboot of a movie series that's adapted from a video game series with the source material, of course, based on the most recent video game reboot of the original Tomb Raider games. In other words, the Tomb Raider franchise proves once and for all that time is cyclical and everything will repeat itself again and again forever and ever.

Play Lara Croft Go for Free


But seemingly existing outside of the traditional franchise cycle structure is a little mobile gem called Lara Croft Go, an outstanding puzzle game that just might be the best representation of the Tomb Raider franchise.

I'm not even sure if that's a controversial statement. If you go back and play the classic Tomb Raider games — whether you bust out the old PlayStation or download the Android version — the oldest games do not hold up 20 years later. You can still respect the trailblazing legacy and how iconic those first Tomb Raider games were... but they're honestly not something you'd play for fun in 2018.

Which brings me to the more recent reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise for the current generation of consoles. The new games look amazing, but the colorful and cartoonish tone of the original series has been replaced in the gritty and dark remake with a gravely serious one that is rightfully engaging in its ability to tell a story, but also isn't really a game you'd casually throw on to relax.

That's where Lara Croft Go fits in nicely — It bridges the gap between the fun and adventure of the original series while still bringing something completely new to the table. While you don't have full control over Lara to explore these tombs, the Go format fits perfectly into a world of boobytrapped chambers filled with man-eating spiders and lizards. The stakes are still high, as one wrong move will send Lara to her doom, but because this is a strategy-first game, you're able to take your time, plot your route, and then glide through each level taking out enemies and dodging traps.

Kudos to the folks at Square Enix Montreal for really nailing the control for mobile, which has resulted in one of the best gaming experiences on Android. You swipe to move Lara around the screen with smooth, great animations as she rolls, jumps, and shoots. The game features the same type of action found in the other Tomb Raider games, except there are a few gameplay limitations that kind of force you to ignore some logic errors.

Lara Croft Go bridges the gap between the fun and adventure of the original series while still bringing something completely new to the table.

I mean, the most glaring issue is Lara's guns. She wields her iconic dual pistols to take out spiders and snakes right up close, but only a spear can be used to kill an enemy from distance… You know, because guns are notoriously bad as long-range weapons. But ultimately, this is a minor issue that you quickly understand has more to do with keeping the game fun and entertaining than aiming for realism.

But as the main Tomb Raider franchise is remade to reflect a more gritty and realistic approach to storytelling, I think Lara Croft Go has really benefitted from being a more laid back and casual feel. There's no real storyline here, just a clever adventure with Lara doing what she does best — raid tombs and collect ancient artifacts.

The game features over 115 levels split over seven chapters, with the majority of the game taking place in the first five sections as you try and uncover the Atlas of Beyond. Beyond just getting through the game, there is also something like 130 hidden relics to find amongst the background of each section.

Download: Lara Croft Go ($0.99)

Marc Lagace

Marc Lagace was an Apps and Games Editor at Android Central between 2016 and 2020. You can reach out to him on Twitter [@spacelagace.