”I hate tombs,” Lara Croft sighs as she enters a musty crypt in Tomb Raider, Crystal Dynamics’ bold series reboot. The franchise had grown a bit musty itself, bogged down in clumsy shooting and silly supernatural elements like an evil Lara doppelgänger. In recent years Uncharted’s Nathan Drake has largely supplanted Croft as gaming’s top adventurer, but this Lara learns from his exploits and is officially reclaiming her throne.
This time around, Lara is not a girl, not yet a woman when she is shipwrecked on a mysterious island. But she quickly grows up as she battles a murderous cult, and actress Camilla Luddington gives a fully realized performance that sells Lara’s evolution. She’s put through the wringer — escaping burning buildings, getting tossed off cliffs — in a series of stunning set pieces that are as fun to play as they are to marvel at. The titular tombs exist as optional side missions that are absolutely worth seeking out, since they contain clever physics-based puzzles that provide a nice reprieve from the campaign’s breakneck pace. Lara may hate tombs, but gamers are going to love them — and her — all over again. A-