The name alone should hint at what style of game you’re downloading here, but we donned our boots and holstered our twin pistols to test out Lara Croft: Relic Run.
The cross-platform ‘adventure runner’, as developer Crystal Dynamics calls it, drapes the tried-and-testing formula from popular games like Temple Run in the iconic garb of the Tomb Raider herself, Lara Croft.
Aesthetically, the style of Lara and the game as a whole harkens back to the original PlayStation titles with her teal tank top, short brown shorts and sizeable knee-high black combat boots. The world around her too is filled with ruins, trees, Naga (read: ‘reptilian deities’ [thanks Wikipedia] or lizard people) and even the occasional dinosaur.
Thankfully the polygon count is notably higher than the console incarnations of old and whilst some textures or models might look a little simple compared to other mobile games, there are particle effects and other visual touches that help up the overall sense of quality.
Gameplay wise, there are a number of staples; such as collecting coins and accumulating distance to improve your score. There are also diamonds which work alongside coins as in-game currency to buy items that help you avoid obstacles, find relics or fair better in combat and yes, of course you can spend real money in-app if you want to supercharge Lara’s wallet and thus the bag of tricks at her disposal.
The running experience itself benefits from a great amount of variety within each level (there are currently two stages, with more promised soon). The Cambodian junglescape has you sprinting between trees and temples, and there are familiar controls to scale over or slide under obstacles too.
However, on occasion you’ll be thrown the occasional curve ball, such as needing to wall run across a drop or vault over a fallen pillar and at one point we even found ourselves traversing the level on quad bike, one that we eventually had to ditch in a ravine, sadly.
The game also switches things up with moments of combat where you can shoot out explosive barrels, crates with money or health inside and of course the enemies, as well as the projectiles they throw at you.
Everything is signposted through deliberate camera movements or obvious landmarks in your path, however sometimes we found ourselves tripping up as a result of lag (the occasional dropped frame), an unresponsive swipe here and there, and when facing off against the first boss (the aforementioned dinosaur who features on the game’s cover art and splash screen), attacks with no obvious means of avoidance.
It’s a steeper learning curve than Temple Run, but the additional variety significantly helps with how replayable the game can be. Should you falter by running into a wall or sliding down a hole, you can revive Lara with the help of an Ankh. You receive some to kick things off when you first download the game, but each additional one costs five diamonds and if you try and revive yourself more than once in the same session, the number of Ankhs required goes up. Should you run out of Ankhs, you can at least enjoy the wonderful ragdoll physics that contort Lara’s body in often comically unnatural ways as she crumbles to the floor.
This is arguably one of the more compelling takes on the auto-runner sub-genre of mobile games; the staple three lanes, multiple routes and power-ups are there, but the addition of gunplay, dinosaurs and acrobatics adds an extra layer of fun on top.