Lara Croft Go Review

The difference in input methods between phones/tablets and consoles/PCs is such a gap that it's unsurprising to see very few ports between them – and any ports you do see tend to be pretty rough. Steam's littered with weird games that have bizarre interfaces and muddy, blown-up graphics from creators who don't do the work to really make the ports worth it or are just looking to cash in on the popularity of it on the mobile device. 

People talk about the games in the Go series as being some of the best examples of what you can do with a mobile game like this, especially as distillations of other franchises down to what really makes them work. Hitman games are clockwork worlds of patterns, and Hitman Go distill that to a board game where you work to find paths between sentinels. Similarly, Tomb Raider games are about solving puzzles to navigate ruins and killing mean beasties, so Lara Croft Go turns it into an isometric game just focused on those two aspects: puzzles and beasties. 

It's easy to lose a lot in translation when jumping from between systems that have such different input methods, but the fact that Lara Croft Go manages to stay so enjoyable is, I think, really just a sign of the good fundamentals the game itself has. "Good for a phone game" is one of those back-handed compliments we so often give, but it doesn't apply here at all; this isn't good for a phone game. This is a good game that happened to get its start on a phone. 

Doing the work to clean up the graphics and interface so it displays nicely while blown up to my TV probably took some work, sure, but the actual gameplay translates over extremely well. A series of diorama-style ruins stretch before you with little paths traced on them, and you're supposed to go from the start to the end, solving puzzles along the way, and killing hella snakes. 

There's a really good escalation to the puzzles as you go along in the game, too, starting out with just simple levers and switches, and eventually introducing traps and enemies that can kill you before finishing off with a rather large boss fight against the giant snake you've seen stalking you through the whole game.  

The later levels get very difficult, but the levels after that, part of an expansion that first came out on PlayStation devices (this is also out on the Vita) are WAY more mind-bendingly difficult than any of the ones that came before, with respawning enemies and the introduction of a lot of new ways to manipulate stuff like pillars that can totally bake your noodle. Some of them are crazy hard and make it so that it's much more difficult to burn through a bunch of levels at a time, sort of like how Super Meat Boy escalates – you go from being able to beat a bunch at a time, to spending 30 minutes on a level before you get through. It can be brutal as hell.  

My biggest problem with the game winds up being that it gets to the point that some of the puzzle bits before you hit a checkpoint are so complex it's really, really a hassle to screw up at the end and have to redo it over and over. The game is fast-paced for the most part, but it can just wind up that there are so many steps to get back to where you were – especially if it was an accidental death - that having to redo a puzzle can really dampen your interest in replaying what you'd already done. 

Lara Croft Go is an excellently crafted and surprisingly lengthy puzzle game that loses nothing in the translation to the PS4. Anything you'd heard about how good, full-featured and fresh it was on mobile devices, continues to be the same now, and the addition of extra levels gives players even more to do. It'll be really cool to see if Square Enix does this concept with other franchises of theirs because the work they've done with the Go series has been excellent so far. If you're opposed to playing games on phones, then now's the perfect time to grab it and give it a try.