What I’m Playing: Lara Croft GO



Today felt the perfect day to start writing this column, because is the launch of Lara Croft GO, a game I’ve been expecting for more time than I could count.

It is clearly a game made for the old school fans of the series and I’m loving it.

From the  interface’s choices to the classic SFX, and obviously, the tomb puzzles, I dare to say this game is more of a Tomb Raider, than the Rise of the Tomb Raider itself. But, enough fangirl talk, I’ve been playing for only a few minutes and I’d like to share what I’ve seen about the first levels so far.

Title Screen

It is all clean, like the rest of the game, there is no “touch to continue” or play buttons. Instead , if you stay a few seconds without interacting, the GO button will start to pulsate and you automatically feel compelled to touch it. Simple and clever way to integrate the play button with the logo and with the game concept (Lara Croft to Go).


Main Menu

Then, the classic menu appears, and chills start to run through my spine.

You had me at the menu
You had me at the menu. Whoever did this interface is a genius.

Here is one of the classic game menu, if you are not a huge Tomb Raider fan and want to understand the reference:


You tap the play option and the first level loads.

I’ll describe it more like a level design review than a walkthrough, simply because I thought it was really well crafted, and this is a game design blog, afterall. For some people that work as level design, this may seem obvious, but for who is starting, there are a few things to learn from it.

Level 1: The Entrance / A Forgotten Path

Lara Croft Go Entrance
Lara Croft Go First Level Screenshot


Just a simple animation introduces the level: the camera focusing on the environment and then Lara arrives the place. It cannot be skipped, but is short enough to allow that.


As concerns to the story, it started mostly like any other Tomb Raider game. A new place to explore.

Moving Around 

There are no obvious hints of how to move or interact, even if you stay idle for long. You have to experiment for yourself.

The path on the floor indicates where she can go. Only one path possible, to make sure the player knows if the character is going on the right way.

As it is a touch device, my first impulse it to touch the next square, that would indicate the next tile. Nothing happened, no feedbacks. Second impulse was to swipe, as I was doing on the main menu to navigate. It worked.

If you try to swipe on another direction, where there isn’t a path, she will play a “not in that way” animation. It is a good feedback to teach correctly that the player that does the right movement, but in the wrong direction.

Continuing from here, 4 steps to the top, the next is to the right. Ok, player now knows how to change directions. Plus two steps, there is a slope, and then the player knows that she/he could climb walls. To descend is the same thing, just swipe down towards the floor.

Lara Croft Go Wall Climb
Wall Climb

Next part introduces the wall side climb, and then, after stepping on the shiny spot on the floor, there is an animation of Lara Croft leaving the cave. Now the player knows that this is the objective of the level, reach the spot with that symbol.

Lara Croft Go Exit
Lara Croft Go Exit mark


Lara Croft GO Interface
Lara Croft GO Clean Interface

The interface is really clean, only two buttons: one to access the hint shop (we’ll talk about that later) and one to open a quick menu, where you can restart the level or go to the main menu. Neither have a confirmation screen, like “Would you like to exit?”, which for security reasons, I believe it is best to have in any game (in the case the player is in the middle of a level and misclick the button, he/she will not be punished by losing the progress). But this might not be a huge problem, because the levels I’ve played so far are short, and it wouldn’t be a headache to start them again. And there is the fact that once you have learned what the buttons do, you need two steps to confirm the action anyway (one to open the menu and then one to choose the option).


Lara Croft GO Hint Shop
Hint Shop: $4.99 for all puzzle solutions

For $4.99, this is not exactly a cheap game for mobile devices, but surely is worth it. The hint menu I’ve talked about earlier, adds an IAP option to unlock the solution for all levels for more $4.99. I’m not sure if it is a good strategy, specially for a game of limited content (they say that the game has 75 levels). Giving away all the solution to a puzzle game sounds to me like taking off the fun of the game. I’d add a content pack, if they would like to make more money, but, I also know that level production can cost a lot. Well, let’s see if it works.


It is nice to note that there are no environment hazards or enemies the player could engage, making this level safe for a sandbox.

The next 4 levels also teach about the base game mechanics in the same intuitive way: the classic levers, collecting relics and artifacts, broken paths and hints of the enemies that are to come.



Game : Lara Croft GO
Download : iOS / Android / Windows Phone
Developer : Square Enix Montreal


Well, who would say that the short post would become into this? Hope you have enjoyed and leave comments if you played the game and noticed more details about the level design that you would like to share.


Quick Edit: Now that I’ve finished the game, makes total sense the restart option, since you can get stuck on some more advanced levels and this option surely come in hand.

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