Relax, Crystal Dynamics hasn't ruined the wonderful, action-fueled, puzzle-solving fun that made Lara Croft and the Guardian of Lightsuch a joy. When it comes to the basics, at least, Lara Croft and the Tomb of Osiris has it down. The fundamentals have hardly been altered. The visuals have received a next-gen boost, the setting has changed and there's a new cast of supporting characters – Lara is now exploring Egypt with a rival raider and a pair of Egyptian gods – but the twin-stick shooting and cooperative spirit that drove Guardian of Light is intact.
The biggest change for Temple of Osiris is that up to four players can now team up to fight the supernatural hordes, pull levers and push boulders (and "accidentally" drop each other into bottomless pits). Together, players can take on the role of Lara, a rival raider named Carter Bell and a pair of Egyptian gods, Horus and Isis. As in Guardian of Light, the puzzles that are encountered will change depending on the number of players in a game.
Rather than giving each character a unique set of abilities, the two pairs of characters – Lara and Carter, Horus and Isis – each have a different set of functions. According to Crystal Dynamics Senior Designer William Kerslake, this decision was made to keep puzzle designs from getting too complex for larger groups of players. Lara and Carter each sport a grappling hook, which can be used to traverse large gaps or to create a tight rope for other players to cross. Horus and Isis, meanwhile, each have an ancient staff used to activate platforms and other magical objects. All of the characters are also talented at using firearms and remote mines, which comes in handy when you're bum-rushed by a herd of giant, scuttling scarabs. I can't explain why ancient Egyptian gods are so comfortable with machine guns, but I'm not going to complain so long as they take out their fair share of gold and turquoise encrusted baddies.
I didn't run across too many puzzles in my short play session, but Kerslake says every player will always have a part to play in solving them, regardless of how many are playing. The area I played was essentially a tutorial area with simple puzzles: Roll this boulder into that device, climb up this ledge and lower your grapple so everyone else can climb up, etc.
Temple of Osiris also looks to maintain Tomb Raider's flair for set-piece moments. One section of my demo (which associate designer Alisha Thayer and I failed repeatedly) had Lara and company fleeing from a giant crocodile atop crumbling platforms. A similar scene toward the end had us all running like mad while navigating pits, spiked logs and spinning, bladed columns. Not all of us made it, but thankfully you can always respawn so long as a least one member of your party remains alive. In the final moments, I'm somewhat ashamed to say that I leaped across the last pit and grabbed Kerslake's grapple just in time – thus forcing Thayer to tumble to her death. It was an accident, I swear.
There's no way to know if Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris will live up to the clever design of Guardian of Light, but the elements that made the first game so brilliant – copious treasure, hidden trinkets, cooperative puzzles – are all there. and that's a good sign.
Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris is coming "soon" to Xbox One, PS4 and PC.