Jay Castello
Freelance Writer
jaymcastello@gmail.com
@jayplaysthings

Rise of the Tomb Raider Spoiler Edition

As in my non spoiler post, my biggest problem comes with Lara herself. This is extra frustrating because (as I said previously) everyone loves Lara. Lara should be fantastic representation. But Tomb Raider’s insistence on having her as a defendable protagonist rather than an identifiable player character completely undermines my (and, from what I hear, others’) ability to properly connect with her.

There were some great moments - the best of which was when Lara sweeps everything off her desk in frustration. This is a classic shortcut for expressing a protagonists emotional state - but I can’t think of a single other time I’ve seen a female character doing it, in any media. Allowing Lara to be angry and without the narrative punishing her for it is great. Except that the narrative does punish her for it. Right before this moment of frustration she fights with erstwhile friend Jonah and he leaves - and right after she is almost killed by some unknown assailant who broke into her home. Only the sudden reappearance of Jonah saves her.

Following this, Lara’s emotional turmoil is essentially forgotten about. Throughout the game she frets about her father who was disgraced for searching for the Divine Source that is now Lara’s goal. Lord Croft comitted suicide (allegedly) and Lara indicates she feels blame for this as they fought directly before it (though Lara was only a preteen). Later in the game, the Big Bad reveals that it was actually the Big Bad Inc. that killed Lord Croft. Lara yells at him to shut up and is given the choice to (mercy) kill him herself, or to allow him to be burned to death.

The impact of these kinds of revelations and decisions on Lara isn’t ever addressed. Moreover, as I mentioned in my previous article, my Lara killed 506 people over 10 hours of gameplay. This apparently doesn’t have any impact on her mental wellbeing either. Now, I know, it’s a video game, the majority of protagonists are mass murderers. But the introduction that we all got to Rise of the Tomb Raider was Lara in therapy. That scene never appears in game, and there isn’t even any incidental examination of Lara’s wellbeing.

Moreover, Lara, obsessed for about 9.5 hours of main story gameplay with finding the Divince Source, eventually relents to the opinion of Jacob - enigmatic “native” and eventually (anticlimatically) revealed to be an immortal prophet-warrior from the twelfth century - that the Source should be destroyed. But we never really see why she changes her mind. She mentions something about how many people have died for it - but surely destroying the Source means they actually died in vain. Destroying the Source also kills her stepmother turned antagonist Ana, and whilst I understand that Ana betrayed her I’d’ve thought there would still have been some kind of moral quandry there for Lara who was previously close to Ana. Instead, Lara’s apology for destorying the Source is directed at Jacob, whom she’s known for a few days (though admittedly she’s ending a 800 year long life).

Okay, I guess it’s time to talk about Jacob then. Jacob turns out to be the Deathless Prophet. The Deathless Prophet..who was from Byzantine Syria…who still looks suspiciously like a white dude? He’s sort of ambiguously ruddy, and played by Philip Anthony-Rodriguez, who is of Puerto Rican descent. He’s also the “spiritual healer” of the “natives”…I don’t know. All of this makes me uncomfortable, but I’m white, so I’m more qualified to speak on how Jacob’s story makes no goddamn sense. I mean, when you first meet him, he’s been captured by Trinity somehow, and they don’t realise he’s the Deathless Prophet himself. Neither do any of the people who live with him day in day out, even though he’s been ruling for generations. It’s not even made clear if his daughter knows - has she not noticed that he hasn’t aged her whole life? Did her mother know? Because if not, that’s pretty shady (looking at you, Solas).

And finally, to return to race…Jonah. Jonah who survived the whole of Tomb Raider (2013) only to follow Lara to Syria and Siberia and then…die? Maybe?

No, I literally don’t know whether he died. And I’m not the only one. Google search for “does jonah die” brings up this as a suggested result:

 

And I couldn’t find the information by Googling. Jonah is stabbed and it’s repeatedly stated that he’s “dying” but there’s also some indiion that if they can make it down the mountain to Jacob in time he’ll survive. Jacob then mentions “putting pressure on the wound” (good first aid advice) and “preparing him” suggesting he’ll die? And then we never hear from Jonah again? I swear I’m missing something here, but the internet’s confusion mirrors mine so…I’d love to know what you guys got from this, because I just don’t know. Either way, it’s pretty galling to kill off the only person of colour (except maybe Jacob…who also dies) in your whole game.

So yeah, the conclusion to my spoiler thoughts is basically the same as my non spoiler thoughts - this could have been so good, Square Enix, but it ended up being really hollow and has some pretty major flaws.

Thoughts from Pokémon Symphonic Evolutions

On Rise of the Tomb Raider