If you asked me a few days ago about Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, I’d have referred to it as that “isometric Tomb Raider game from a few years ago”. Imagine my utter shock when I found out that it was originally released in 2010. Thirteen years ago – and not even on the Switch, because the Switch didn’t even exist yet. Quite why it’s taken so long to get Guardian of Light and its sequel, Temple of Osiris, onto Switch is anyone’s guess, but they’re finally here in the Lara Croft Collection.
I mean no hyperbole when I say that these two games are among the best of Ms. Croft’s adventures, top-down action-adventure games full of puzzles, platforming, and lots of violence from the short-short-clad tomb raider herself. As a huge plus, the Collection comes to Nintendo Switch with not only the two games but also 7 DLC packs across both titles – including the Deus Ex themed skin pack for the second game.
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light hit before the 2012 reboot, at a time when it was still unsure where the character and franchise would go. Switching from the third-person camera of old to a new isometric viewpoint, it sees Lara searching for the fabled Mirror of Smoke. Sadly, it contains an ancient demon called Xolotl, who gets released and promptly goes on a rampage, leading to Lara teaming up with the guardian of the mirror, Totec, to stop it.
When played in two-player co-op mode (which is still available on Switch), Totec and Lara can work together directly. He’s a big dude with a spear and shield, which can be utilised for leg-ups and to make climbing points in the environment. When solo, he instead gives his magical spear to Lara, inadvertently creating one of the most satisfying one-shot weapons ever.
From there you’re pretty much doing the usual Tomb Raider things. Solving puzzles to unlock contraption ostensibly made by ancient civilisations but which would stump even the most forward-thinking modern physicist, destroying craftsmanship that has literally survived for hundreds of years until Lara came along, and, of course, annihilating the local fauna like she has a grudge against them.
The action is smooth and exciting though, with Lara able to cycle through several weapons including her signature dual pistols and an assault rifle. There are also bombs you can drop and detonate to damage enemies or help clear the way. You’ll find idols and artefacts scattered around that Lara can equip for permanent buffs (which sometimes have a light debuff attached, too). The isometric viewpoint and fixed camera can be a bit of a pain when you’re behind a high ledge or you’re trying to jump from pillar to pillar, but generally speaking it’s an incredibly competent action game with cool combat, and some interesting if rarely taxing puzzles.
One issue that plagues both games in the Lara Croft Collection is, unfortunately, unavoidable when played in handheld form: the camera is pulled back so far that Lara and the enemies are tiny on screen. On a TV or monitor it’s nowhere near as egregious, but on the Switch’s small screen – even the OLED – it may be enough to put some people off.
Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris is a slightly better-looking game, though, having been released four years after its predecessor in 2014. It’s a touch shorter though, but makes up for it by upping the multiplayer component from two to four players. In this title, Lara teams up with two Egyptian gods, Horus and Isis, to track down the pieces of Osiris (like, his actual dismembered bits, for real) before the evil god Set can find them.
Again, the emphasis here is on exploration, puzzle-solving, and wildlife-bothering, only with a few added features. The spear is replaced with a magical staff, which can be used to direct light beams into mirrors in many of the puzzles. There’s also more gear in this game, and Lara can equip rings, amulets, and even vests with various stat-boosting features attached.
Puzzles change depending on how many players you have (similar to how Totec will lend you his shield in the first game), which is a great way to encourage multiplayer sessions and keep you on your toes each time. Although the runtime is shorter, it feels like there’s more in Temple of Osiris, perhaps because a lot of the optional challenge rooms feel a little more elaborate.
Fans of Lara will get a lot of joy from the Lara Croft Collection, but even newcomers just looking for an interesting adventure game will find a lot to like. Neither game is particularly deep or long, but the addition of the DLC packs helps to pad it out a little, and you can always go for 100% completion if you relish a longer challenge. If you’ve never played these games before, I can’t recommend them enough. They may feel and look their age now – especially on the Switch – but the gameplay and puzzles are still top notch.
Two fantastic adventures
Enjoyable puzzles and action
Includes all the DLC
Very small on the Switch's screen
No graphical boosts