Many developers have been going darker with the tones of stories lately. It's time we stop asking definitively if this is a good or bad thing and consider the artistic value at hand.
Tomb Raider is Incredibly Grisly, and That’s a Good Thing
Ever since the PR nightmare that was the marketing for Tomb Raider, we’ve all been unsure of what to really expect from developer Crystal Dynamic’s reboot of the beloved action adventure series. Rape controversy, cries of sexism, and even odd declarations from marketing by way of designing Lara in order to leave you “wanting to protect her” all muddied up the actual nature of the game itself.
Well, the game’s already a day old, and it finds itself yet again under scrutiny as many players find it grisly. Maybe a little too grisly.
I will say this: the game is incredibly violent, and not in the typical gunning-down-multiple-enemies type of way. Instead, the game goes out of its way to present you with some truly unsettling and horrific death scenes and animations, depending on what predicament Lara manages to find herself in. She’ll be impaled on poles, have her throat ripped out by wolves, die from enemy arrows, and even her fall deaths are disturbing. Basically, when you play Tomb Raider, you can expect to cringe. A lot.
Now, the grisly nature of these deaths has led to many people asking if it’s in poor taste. Should we dwell on a character’s suffering? Should we watch her die a horrible death? Or does it take death and violence a little too far?
To which I say this: put away your armor, shining white knights. Lara needs no defense, and the game certainly doesn’t need to tone down on its gruesome nature.
See, the grisly and horrible things that happen to Lara throughout the course of Tomb Raider aren’t only interesting; they’re completely necessary. While some action adventure games tend to feel a bit more video game-y and don’t necessarily take themselves too seriously, Tomb Raider is a completely serious game that establishes a dark and tense tone from the moment you hit start.
Because of this, I can’t help but feel like these intense death sequences in Tomb Raider are completely justified. After all, Lara’s stranded on an island filled with natural hazards and teeming with enemies ready to kill her in an instant. It’s not exactly an all-inclusive tropical vacation to Hawaii, and the game realizes this.
Really, Tomb Raider’s unabashedly gruesome deaths add another layer of realism onto it and emphasizes the dire straits that Lara and her fellow shipmates are in. And it actually plays a small part in her character development as a whole. In the beginning, Lara’s a weak and somewhat clumsy victim trying her best to merely survive a complete mess. She’s not a hardened action hero who’s dealt with this scenario before. As such, it makes complete sense to show that she can die, and yes, will die in horrific ways. It’s a bold move the game takes in an effort to embrace a more realistic and serious tone that many others can’t quite capture in the same way.
And while it leaves me somewhat speechless and disturbed, it’s a move that makes me love the game even more.
Be on the lookout for our complete review of Tomb Raider in the coming days. To find out more about it, check out a full preview here.