Lara Croft. An iconic character in the video gaming world and easily one of the most recognisable pop culture icons out there. Today her maze running free action game, Lara Croft: Relic Run hits the mobile stores.
I was lucky enough to go and check out Lara Croft: Relic Run last week to get a sneaky preview of the game and have a chat with Square Enix producer Iain about the game as I got to have a play.
The first thing I have to say about this game is that it is nothing like Temple Run. Oh sure, it has the part where you’re on a never ending path of doom where obstacles jumps out at you at every given moment, that’s pretty similar, but Relic Run takes it about ten steps further from that.
Relic Run has story, unlockable weapons, new outfits and a whole bunch of different items that can help make your runs just a little bit easier. It also has multiple features that you won’t find in other runners that will make this experience a whole lot enjoyable and seriously addicting. Oh yeah, you can absolutely expect some rage quits with this game. Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics haven’t held back in how tough these runs are going to be, and they’ve done a damn good job of making it entirely your fault.
Starting with the story. The game follows in the same time period as the last Lara Croft game, Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris. Your pal Carter, a rival archaeologist that you worked with in ToO, has mysteriously gone missing. It’s your job to hunt down the relics which reveal the story that leads Lara on the path to find out where the heck Carter’s gone.
Jump on a quadbike and a motorbike and speed through the two currently available levels in the game. In the jungle area, you jump on the quadbike and speed past falling pillars and zoom through the wooded areas. Over in the desert you hop on the motorbike and dodge the outside of chasms to get a whole bunch of coins.
Shooting is a core feature in the Lara Croft universe and it’s one of the defining features of Relic Run that makes it stand out from other maze runners. In every run you’ll hit shooting sequences that’ll pit you against an array of different enemies that’ll throw, shoot, whip and just generally try to ruin your day. The key to getting through it is either shooting them before they attack or shoot the projectiles out of the sky. You do this just by tapping the area you wanna hit. You can switch weapons, which have different stats and will work better in different areas.
Every level has a boss. In the jungle you’ll face off down a T. rex – because what kind of Lara Croft game doesn’t have a T. rex in it?! In the desert a fearsome Chimaera’s determined to maul you. You can fend them off pretty easily with some well timed dodges and shooting, but you won’t be able to kill either boss until you upgrade your weaponry.
On your runs you may notice parts of it that make you wonder ‘what if…’ Go with that gut instinct! There are a whole myriad of different hidden pathways on the courses, which are randomly generated so no two runs are the same. You’ll earn an achievement for finding one too, which is another little feature of this game. As you collect achievements you’ll get rewards, mostly coins, but you might be lucky enough to get more goodies too.
There are a few great alternative outfits for Lara that you can get in the game. What’s nice about these is that they aren’t completely cosmetic. Each outfit has its own perks and bonuses, for example the stealth suit which gives you a better bonus in enemies not noticing you as you run past them.
Items are key in any game. Relic Run is no different to that. Items vary from getting more ammo, health packs and new weapons. You also get a few other more unique items such as the Turtle Charm. Turtle Charms protect you from Curses, which I’ll explain shortly. Other items include body armour, so you can take a few more hits, and steel capped boots which help shorten the stagger time when you trip on something.
The innovative new system of inflicting Curses on your friends is fantastic, but unfortunately not something that I was able to try out when I got my hands on the game. Understandably so, as it was a week before the game’s release. Square issued this nugget to tell us more about what it’s all about…
Get ahead in the game by outsmarting and sabotaging friends with the all-new Curse system, an innovative new feature that allows gamers to send curses to other friends in an attempt to ruin their run. The feature appears as a full screen effect for a limited amount of time, and if players survive the challenge, they receive a reward and the chance to wreak revenge with a curse of their own!
Some of the curses include one that really stuck in my mind that Iain mentioned which was a funky retro mode that made the game all pixelated and a great throw back to 80s gaming. Some people in playtesting allegedly wanted more of it! Maybe Crystal will give us a little unlockable option? Who knows.
Wanna know one of the best things about this game? Although there are definitely microtransactions that are absolutely going to be tempting due to the nature of the upgrades, the game isn’t pay to win! If you’re the type who, like me, could sit down and play this for a good while (and when I say a good while, I easily played this for about two hours nonstop at the preview event) you can wrack up such a huge amount of coins you won’t really need the gems that are the pay for currency. You’ll be awarded gems as you go anyway, much like in other mobile games, but they aren’t necessary.
The game is out right now! It’s available on Android and iOS devices and completely free to download and play. Go get stuck in! I certainly am, in fact, once I’ve finished writing this. Guess where I’ll be?