The last post was devoted almost entirely to Lara’s concussion-induced flashback to her time in Syria (with a little London thrown in), and now we’ve been jerked back to the present, which–like the state I’m currently in–is bitterly cold and covered in snow. As always, spoilers abound. Be warned.
The flashbacks are over, and we rejoin Lara in the Siberian wilderness as she wakes up post-avalanche. Present day, it says. She’s down at the bottom of the mountain, and tries to radio Jonah, to tell him to “go back. Please don’t try to find me. I need to do this alone.” And, as in TR2013, Lara murmurs to herself, “Got to find shelter,” a flashback (of a different sort) to the first level in the jungle, looking for a fire. Deja vu—only a lot colder. I can even hear wolves.
Lara builds a shelter, gathers firewood, some skin and meat from a freshly killed deer. Lara’s radio lets her overhear Trinity talking, so she knows they’re there. With the fire built, Lara says that this is “familiar pain,” then says she hopes Jonah made it back safely—and also that “this is my path, and mine alone.” In one sense, she’s right. There is only one player in this game, and the essence of Lara Croft is that she’s a loner. On the other, it’s pretty clear from TR2013 that she isn’t alone, even when she thinks she is. No one is ever really alone.
Lara has to explore the area around camp, learning how to gather hardwood and feathers (for making arrows), and discovering a journal from a member of Trinity who had been an envoy to the Molgols in search of Kitezh—the Mongols for treasure, the Trinity agent for the Divine Source. Lara takes this as a sign she’s on the right track. Further down the hillside Lara finds a monolith, which marks a “military victory. But, it looks like they left something nearby” (coins). There is also a crown “from one of the Princes of Kiev,” which, when turned, reveals that “Someone was wearing it when they were killed…” That’s not ominous at all.
As Lara is exploring, Trinity shoots a flare into the sky, which is even more ominous than the crown of the dead king, particularly because Lara has to walk straight into the glowing red snow, which gets deep and slows her down just as the music gets creepy and foreboding. Huzzah. And then the survey team gets on the radio and gets mauled to death by… something. Maybe a bear. Maybe, knowing this game, something much worse than a bear. And as Lara walks toward the red light, “Overwatch” tries to contact them again… and they don’t respond. Yup. Definitely dead. And probably because of something I’m going to have to shoot with arrows.
Lara creeps up on the camp, and pulls a radio off a dead man. And… yup, bear. BIG bear. Really, seriously big bear. And the bear eats my face because I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to do at this point, since “running” did not work very well. It didn’t work the second time because I was writing this, and the third and fourth time because I guess I actually had to bunny-hop my way to a cluster of roots. And then beat the bear with my crowbar. And then dodge it. And then beat it some more (woo, quicktime event). And then get swatted off a cliff, and pass out. That’s two big passings-out so far.
This flashback appears to be to Lara’s childhood, as a very young Lara climbs through a window into her father’s study. Her father is setting off on an expedition, and Lara says she should be his assistant as the camera pans over illuminated manuscripts depicting “The Massacre of the Prophet and his People.” He tells her that “Someday, you’re going to make such a mark on this world,” and then the phone rings.
Lara regains consciousness in the snow and has to hunt down healing resources to deal with her bear-swipe (leaves and a box of bandaging/fabric). As she reaches the edge of another cliff, she overlooks “an abandoned Cold War installation,” which has been taken over by Trinity, as a helicopter flies in. I will bet anything that at some point I’m going to have to infiltrate it.
Bandaged up, Lara heads back to find a way down that gets her past the bear (the goal says “defeat,” which does not make me happy). On the way back into the Wilderness, Lara happens upon some deathcap mushrooms, which can apparently make a poison arrow (I’m assuming strong enough to take out a pissed-off bear). That done, Lara says she’s cold and “so tired. Must rest.”
I guess the story people decided that she could only be knocked unconscious so many times before suffering major brain damage (so far, one ear-ringing hit into a mountain and two losses of consciousness—one by avalanche, one by bear), so instead they’re going to employ dreams (ignoring that the last thing one ought to do when borderline hypothermic and concussed is going to sleep…).
Back to Lord Richard Croft’s telephone call, where he’s angry and probably been threatened. He says he’s “close to something important. Someday, you’ll understand.” she replies, “I don’t want to understand! I want you to be my dad again!” Then she wakes up to the sound of a gunshot.
Two people (one of whom is identified by the subtitles as “Native Man”) are being chased by Trinity, who shoot the man. The woman shoots two with arrows, then runs out, and the man tells her to “keep running.” Trinity kills him, and she runs. The leader tells the others to “Run her down,” before turning and noticing the light from Lara’s fire. He approaches the shelter shooting (of course she’s not in it), but finds nothing because Lara is up a tree, from where she can attack and kill him. She then has to take out (or avoid) the rest of them.
Killing the bear was kind of annoying, mostly because figuring out how to FIRE the poisoned arrow (as opposed to a normal one) was actually really counter-intuitive, so I ended up shooting the bear repeatedly with normal arrows before finally getting it (also, I kept accidentally wasting poisoned ones on the trees because I was trying to switch to them, which you can’t actually DO). But once I got that sorted out, shooting the bear was pretty easy, so it’s now Lara and a dead bear in a cave.
A dead bear, a dead deer, a gun part, some coins, some salvage, and another letter from the Trinity knight (the Hunter) following the Mongols—he’s frustrated because no one out here speaks a language he understands, although “The Prophet, it seems, speaks every language, as if he were born to them.” I’m starting to get a feeling that the Prophet is not as awesome as I’ve been led to believe, kind of like Himiko. I mean, sure, the Trinity people are jerks, but if a lifetime of stories are to be trusted, this Prophet guy is probably equally problematic.
Bust through another wall, and another tunnel, and into a Glacial Cavern which is a very clear point of no return, as I get to swim through glacier water (Lara remarks—no kidding—that it’s going to be cold) before reaching another fire.
Just past that, there is a Byzantine war galley stuck in the ice. Lara wonders, “How did that get here?” It’s pretty epic. It also looks like it might lead to a way out… or maybe the tomb. Partway up, there’s a wall that I can climb, even though the path continues. Looks like the hidden tomb—and yes, indeed, it leads me across the chasm to the main mast of the ship.
Ice is blocking her way up the ship, but there’s a lever that drops some tackle… this seems like a very bad idea. But if that’s how to do it… Lara walks out on some ancient wooden rigging, and leaps onto the tackle to swing it into the ice (yeah… bad idea). It works, though. Twice. At the top, Lara wonders “Why were they carrying so much wealth with them?” It’s a good question—although it resonates pretty strongly with the Crusader vibe that the game has given Trinity: travel to the Middle East for religious purposes, kill everybody, steal their stuff. You know, good Christian values.
At the top, a massive tablet with a codex inside detailing information about the Byzantine empire. Tomb raided.
One of the new mechanics in RotTR is language acquisition—it began with learning Greek from the murals in Syria, and continues with the letters here (Russian). It’s more or less an XP-acquisition game—as long as you find the documents, your language ability increases. So far, it hasn’t really made much of a difference, as far as I can tell.
On the other side of the caverns, Lara encounters the woman (Sofia) who was running from Trinity (apparently they didn’t catch her, either). Sofia also has a bow. Lara asks her how long they’ve been here, and Sofia says only a few days. She tells Lara to leave, and Lara replies that she’s looking for something important, to which Sofia says, “So are they.” She then tells Lara if she sees her again, “I’ll put an arrow in your throat.” Lara tries to convince her otherwise, but is distracted by an explosion, and Sofia disappears.
Lara remarks on Sofia’s clothing, saying that she has “adornments that would not be out of place in the Byzantine Empire,” and wonders if she and her people are descendants of the Prophet’s followers. I’ll give you one guess.