The Angel of Darkness gets blamed for a lot of the Tomb Raider franchise's failures in the early-to-mid 2000s — whether it's the downfall of Core Design, the box office flop of the second Angelina Jolie movie, or the continuity reboot the series needed before anyone would agree to publish another one of its games. While I have to admit there's some pretty damning circumstantial evidence there and that not every accusation is exactly unfounded, the game's memetic unpopularity even among people who never played it still feels harsher than is warranted.
For one thing, AoD attempted to introduce several features that are pretty standard in action-adventure titles today, but were still quite innovative at the time — including allowing Lara to explore areas populated by interactable, non-hostile NPCs rather than enemies who existed solely for her to shoot at. This expanded world opened up so many new avenues, including what even nay-sayers will admit was the best narrative and dialogue of any Tomb Raider game up to that point. In a series first, it also introduced a second playable protagonist whose story intersected with Lara's at various points.
For better or for worse, The Angel of Darkness sparked my first foray into internet fandom. Giving Lara more allies to bounce off of helped her feel more like a three-dimensional character; and even though I'd been adamantly anti attempts to give her a love interest in the movies, I was exceptionally pro the addition of Kurtis Trent to the games. Try not to judge me too harshly, but I began my relationship with social media by joining the Kurtis Trent Estrogen Brigade forums. Look… it was 2003 and that terrible brooding grunge boy aesthetic was just what we were all into at the time. I can't explain it now, so if you're lucky enough not to have been there, you really are going to just have to trust me on this.
Nevertheless, nearly two decades on, I still occasionally find myself hoping that the new Tomb Raider devs will bring back Kurtis someday. Hopefully after giving him a Carlos Oliveira grade redesign… or at least a good wash.