Shadow of the Tomb Raider is now available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, taking players through the final adventure of Lara Croft’s origin trilogy that began in 2013. The game, from publisher Square Enix and developer Eidos Montréal – along with Crystal Dynamics – pushes Lara to her limits in the darkest, grittiest chapter of the trilogy, resulting in a game that Tomb Raider fans new-and-old alike can enjoy and appreciate.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider takes place two months after the events of Rise of the Tomb Raider. Lara Croft and her expedition partner, Jonah Maiava, have been keeping tabs on the antagonistic group, Trinity, to prevent them from unleashing havoc upon the world through ancient, supernatural relics. Lara and Jonah track trinity to the city of Cozumel, Mexico, uncovering an operation led by Pedro Dominguez, the head of Trinity’s High Council.
Upon investigating some of the city’s outlying tombs, Lara uncovers a dagger accompanied by murals portraying a Mayan apocalypse, as well as references to a hidden city and a “silver box”. Lara ignores the warnings and takes the dagger to prevent Trinity from obtaining it, but Dominguez eventually captures her and takes the dagger, informing her that her actions have triggered a series of events that will lead to the Mayan apocalypse referred to as “The Cleansing”, which would bring the Sun’s death. Before leaving her, Dominguez states that he is going to stop The Cleansing and remake the world in his image with the power of the dagger and the silver box. The first cataclysm of the apocalypse begins with a tsunami destroying Cozumel. Lara and Jonah are able to escape, but tensions between the pair rise as Lara insists on going after Trinity and the box, versus Jonah’s desire to help the townspeople.
The two put their arguments aside and travel to the Peruvian Amazon. While en route, they fly into a storm caused by the second cataclysm, which sends their plane crashing into the middle of the jungle. Lara and Jonah survive and, with the help of Abby – a local mechanic – eventually make their way to the hidden city known as Paititi.
Lara saves a boy named Etzli, who happens to be the son of Unuratu, Queen of Paititi. The city is divided into two groups, one of which is a cult controlled by Pedro Dominguez, whose real name is actually Amaru. As it turns out, Dominguez was taken from Paititi as a child by Trinity, having returned to recreate the world in his image. He also happens to be Unuratu’s late husband’s brother. Unuratu heads up a rebellion aimed at stopping the cult’s influence on the townspeople.
Dressed as a cultist, Lara explores the surrounding tombs and comes to learn that the dagger and the silver box were property of the goddesses Chak Chel and Ix Chel. Piercing the box using the dagger as the key will sacrifice the spirit of the god Kukulkan, effectively ending The Cleansing. During her search, she encounters cave-dwelling humanoids who have slaughtered countless Trinity soldiers. She later comes to learn that the creatures are called the Yaaxil, and they are the guardians of the silver box. Unfortunately, while on a rescue mission to save Unuratu from the cultists, Lara overhears Dominguez say that the box was stolen by a 17th-century missionary who hid the box at a mission of San Juan in a neighboring village.
During the rescue, Unuratu gets shot, leaving Lara responsible for finding the box before Dominguez. Before dying, Unuratu warns Lara that the box will try to tempt her into using it, but to stay strong and resist the temptation. Her and Jonah travel to the mission of San Juan, uncovering a catacomb full of puzzles beneath the crumbling church. They find the silver box, but Dominguez greets them and takes it for himself. Much like before, Dominguez leaves Lara and Jonah just as another cataclysmic event hits in the form of an earthquake and massive mudslide. The two survive and head back to Paititi to prevent Dominguez from performing his ceremony with the help of Etzli – the new leader of the city – and his army.
As Lara and crew lead an assault on an underground temple to stop Dominguez, Etzli’s forces are cut off by Trinity, leaving Lara on her own. A volcanic eruption occurs at the same time; the fourth and final cataclysm. Lara eventually comes across the Yaaxil again, who are battling Trinity as well. She encounters Crimson Fire, leader of the Yaaxil and the symbolic representation of Chak Chel, and the two join forces to stop Dominguez, with Lara symbolically becoming Ix Chel, the other half of the goddess duo.
The Yaaxil are able to take down Trinity and the High Council for good, while Lara takes on Dominguez. She arrives to the scene a little too late, as Dominguez pierces the silver box with the dagger, filling him with the power of Kukulkan. With the ceremony partially interrupted, Dominguez and Lara battle atop a raised platform, with Lara eventually coming out victorious.
With Dominguez’ death, the spirit of Kukulkan transfers to Lara. Immediately, Lara is tempted by the box. She envisions herself as a little girl with her parents, brought back to life by the box’s power. Ultimately, she says goodbye, resisting the temptation to actually use the box. Lara and Crimson Fire perform the sacrificial ceremony that destroys the spirit of Kukulkan, ending The Cleansing just in time.
Lara returns to Paititi where Etzli has already started the rebuilding process to restore the city to its former glory, having laid Unuratu to rest. Jonah exclaims that he will be taking a vacation with his new romantic interest, Abby, while Lara decides to head back home.
Following the credits, Lara is found at her desk in Croft Manor, reflecting on her experiences and re-balanced priorities. While her intent may be to take a break from any more expeditions for a while, the ending certainly hints at the idea that they may come sooner than expected, tying the original Tomb Raider games in perfectly as her potential next adventures.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider takes an introspective look into one of gaming’s strongest female characters. The self-doubt and vulnerability Lara experiences throughout the game is a refreshing focus, ultimately molding her into the character that gamers have come to know and love.