I have pulled on boots and a hat, grabbed my pistols from the drawing room, and I’ve attempted to plait my hair but my fingers got all tangled up and oh how do you do these things anyway you need like six hands ugh.
I always sort of thought that Tomb Raider was survival horror at its heart: in the old Tomb Raiders, the Core Design ones, I became very used to that lull and terror, that exploration and SURPRISE TIGER, that puzzle puzzle puzzle BATS IN YOUR FACE rhythm. It often felt like the Resident Evil rhythm: a suspicious corridor, zombies tapping on the window, and you work up the audacity to run down it. You realise over seven or eight journeys down that corridor that perhaps the zombies aren’t going to break through the windows and gobble Jill’s flesh. And you begin to think you’re safe.
Only one day, when you think everything’s fine, you run down that corridor and twenty zombies twat you one.
That would have been a wonderful Tomb Raider: mummies left right and centre, Lara sighing and being all like, “Oh bugger off you bastards” whilst jump scares exhaust you, the fragile player. When I was playing as Jill Valentine I always got a Lara vibe from her, even if that was mostly because she controlled like a shelled-to-shit fifty-year-old tank through a vat of treacle. But that’s where the terror comes from, right? Your inability to control your character in a hostile environment. Yeah, Tomb Raider was always survival horror. Playing as Lara in the early days was a battle with your keyboard. Sometimes you thought lifting the keyboard up like a Tusken Raider and screeching at the screen would be more effective as a control method.
In any case, it has come to my attention via the orange-powdered fingers of our beloved Dew-slurping Geoff Keighley on the iPad and Steam app The Final Hours of Tomb Raider that the new Tomb Raider went through some real left-field concepts before landing, actiony-soft, at our doors. Here’s a video of the concepts Crystal Dynamics were messing around with before they got prequel Lara on the go:
I guess the takeaway is that the team was pretty heavily influenced by Team Ico’s masterpiece Shadow of the Colossus in the beginning – and you can see in the game that was actually released that they kept the Japanese temple theme. It’s pretty interesting to see all their initial ideas: the horse makes my heart pine for Agro, the Real Protagonist of Shadow of the Colossus, and part of me hopes that Tomb Raider: Horse Adventures is still on its way in some form.
The bow and arrow vs monsters section of the video is interesting too: a real Resident Evil 4 section by section boss battle is in there, though much of that idea was obviously abandoned in the final product we’re playing now. There’s some concept art in there too that shows that a horror element was definitely considered, as well as more art that indicated how big an impact Shadow of the Colossus was having on the team’s thoughts.
Anyway, I’m getting a bit dusty and dirty in these here concept tombs. I’ll get out of here before I lose my hat to a Geoff Keighley boss battle. Remember: fortune and glory, kids. Fortune and glory. And Doritos.