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Lara Croft GO – The Shard of Life game review

We take a look at a new chapter to Lara Croft GO, a free expansion dubbed ‘the Shard of Life’.

You recovered the final key from the Maze of Spirits, subdued the Queen of Venom and acquired the Atlas of Beyond, but you want more? Luckily Square Enix pushed out a free update for Android and iOS devices on November 26th that adds a new chapter to the Lara Croft GO universe – the Shard of Life.

Lara Croft GO - the Shard of Life - The Cave of Fire journal

As it’s an expansion to the already stellar mobile title, Lara Croft GO (read the full review here), we’ve got more of everything we loved first time around; great visuals, atmospheric sound design and plenty of turn-based puzzles. The Cave of Fire, where everything takes place this time, is home to familiar foes too, but with a significant twist – they can’t die.

In the original game, there were times when you’d be able to shoot some snakes from behind or squash a lizard with a pillar and have one less thing to worry about on the board, but the shard’s power has its hold over some (but not all) of the beasties you’ll encounter in the caves of this expansion, rendering them essentially immortal.

We say ‘essentially immortal’ as although the creatures look like their fleshy counterparts, they appear in fact to be made from rock and fire, most obviously when you do try and take one out. Should Lara lob a spear or pull her pistols on these shard-powered enemies, they’ll shatter into pieces like exploding statues, however you only have a few moves (indicated by the glowing line around each enemy) to take advantage of their broken state before they reconstitute themselves and return to play.

It makes for an interesting new dynamic, forcing you to strategize your moves around each level even more carefully than you would have had to during the original game. Whilst weapons are the most obvious means of breaking these new enemies apart you can also crush them with boulders or pillars and have them fall down pits.

Lara Croft GO - the Shard of Life enemy sequence
Enemies fall to pieces when attacked, but they can just as easily put themselves back together again.

When in pieces, you can traverse the square the disabled enemy is in as if they’re not there and if you position yourself or move an obstacle onto a broken enemy’s space, they can’t reform until the space is clear again, which is an essential trick to solving some of the challenges.

Square Enix has once again employed masterful control over the difficulty curve the puzzles within the Shard of Life expansion contain. You’re quickly introduced to the resurrection mechanic with snakes – the same enemy you initially encounter when playing vanilla GO for the first time, but as you progress the level of challenge quickly falls back in line with the later stages of the original game and towards the end, get even harder. Aside from the narrative and basic controls, it’s part of the reason why you’re pushed to play the original game first, before tackling these new stages.

The Shard of Life expansion takes place over a single journal of 11 stages, but as before there are gems and idol fragments to uncover which grant access to the new ‘Angel of Death’ costume should you find them all.

Lara Croft GO - the Shard of Life - the end

Lara Croft GO is available on iOS and Android right now for £3.99 and the Shard of Life chapter simply adds more of the same great gameplay that pulled us in first time around at no extra cost. There’s no official word yet, but the expansion will likely make it’s way to Windows Phone in the near future too.

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