Shadow of the Tomb Raider: The Pillar Review

Bear with me, because I’m going to praise Shadow of the Tomb Raider again (I promise, it’s the last time this year!). Eidos Montreal couldn’t have made any better game out of it. It was everything I didn't even know I wanted from a Tomb Raider game, and then some. I love Tomb Raider reboot and Rise of the Tomb Raider to bits, so if Shadow of the Tomb Raider eclipsed them both in my books, then it must be something out of this world. And I was ready to hate it, given the developer change and the advertisement campaign that focused on the new, lethal stealth action. But the game disarmed me and gave me an experience like no other. So, against my usual anti-DLC policy, I’m only happy that I can keep on adventuring in the game’s exquisite world through additional challenge tombs. The Forge was a good opener, but The Pillar is even better.

The new content of The Pillar is a bit awkward to play post-game because it refers to characters and events that are, let’s just say to avoid spoilers, not valid anymore. The mission “The Age Maker” takes place about two-thirds into the main game, even though you approach it like any side content during the post-game. Time paradox aside, “The Age Maker” sees Lara trying to retrieve the legendary shield of emperor Sinchi Chiqa before Trinity can get a hold of it. Unlike in The Forge, there are really no preliminary steps to take before entering the tomb, apart from meeting up with a quest giver inside Skull Cave in Paititi and having a conversation with her. While the set-up is short, the tomb itself, The Path of Huracan, is all the more magnificent, covering a huge trek before you even arrive at its premises. Carved alongside a mountain top with violently blowing wind and beating rain, The Path of Huracan reminds of windy chambers of Tomb Raider reboot, but taken into dizzying heights.

Environmental puzzles hindering the progress along the perilous path are suitably challenging, taking a moment or two (and few plummets down into the abyss) to work out how Lara can survive walking a tightrope through dangerous gusts of wind. Puzzle mechanics are logical, though, and when you figure solutions out after failing (and falling) a couple of times, I quipped “Now I know how to pass this, just watch me!” to my brother and our friend who were watching me tomb raiding the DLC. On a whole, for a seasoned tomb raider as I am, The Path of Huracan might be a bit on the easy side but is still thrilling all the same.

Once again, amazing graphics featured throughout The Pillar establish the fact that Shadow of the Tomb Raider was the best-looking game of 2018. Environmental effects, with merciless wind and showering rain, and luminous lighting really gives off the feeling it’s cold, wet, slippery and altogether horrible out there. After reaching the inner chamber and raiding the tomb, it’s not game over for the DLC as the mission continues further into the mountain, partially through familiar temple grounds from the main campaign, and sees Lara engaging local Trinity forces during her escapade. As much as I have praised how wonderful it is that Shadow featured so little fighting, I must admit that after such a long spell without taking up arms (including The Forge), combat comes off as an invigorating adrenaline shot. The controls are so fluid it’s a second nature to draw Lara’s bow and take headshots at rushing enemies (of course, there are other weapons too, but the bow is just so organic!).

It takes some two hours of keen tomb raiding to see The Pillar through. I really couldn’t ask for any longer new missions, though, as they aren’t meant to be mini-games as such but rather pieces of the entirety that is Shadow of the Tomb Raider with its DLC. Without spoiling too much, “The Age Maker” ends on a high note (Lara’s new friend is cool!) and is rewarded with nice new equipment, and made me to do a little clap for taking me through another exciting and gratifying adventure with Miss Croft. I love this version of Lara, the looks, the character, and Camilla Luddington’s passionate performance, and the more I can get to experience that before a curtain call (actress herself has hinted that Shadow might be her final gig in the role), the better. I can’t get enough of Shadow of the Tomb Raider, I really can’t, and it couldn’t make me any happier that with The Forge and now The Pillar, the quality curve of the DLC is pointing in a good direction, promising a lot for the five remaining challenge tombs to come!

Video game nerd & artist. I've been playing computer and video games since the early 80's so I dare say I have some perspective to them. When I'm not playing, I'm usually at my art board.