In the new Tomb Raider, Lara Croft’s journey from survivor to action star to heroine (or antiheroine, but we’ll get to that) takes her through horrors visceral and terrestrial, mundane and extraordinary. But her grim and grueling adventure isn’t quite or only survival horror. At the end of her ordeal—the end of her transformation—she is a survivor, yes, and she is more than that. But what? A badass? An icon? A hero?
Tomb Raider is about fear and bravery, growth and change, in its gameplay, its story, its characters. The game’s marketing campaign (and, indeed, the game itself) tells us “a survivor is born,” but is that true? What does it mean?
That theme of survival is woven into virtually every aspect of Tomb Raider’s narrative, from its abrupt beginning to its stirring end. Every character is a riff on the theme. The whole experience is a dramatization of the challenges and costs of survival. It’s bloody wonderful.
Massive spoilers from here on out.