Story and Gameplay of Rise of the Tomb Raider

                When it comes to works of fiction, video games or otherwise, one of the most important things to consider is the genre.  Videogames are a type of literature that have two distinct genres.  One genre, the story genre, classifies the general tropes the game may follow; the second genre, gameplay, is denotative of how a player interacts with the game itself.  These factors are both important when looking at a video game.  It is also important to note how well these genres blend, for instance, Action and Adventure story lines tend to work well with Platformers and RPGs.  The 2015 game Rise of the Tomb Raider is the game I’ll be looking at to discern the genre of the plot and gameplay.

image courtesy of HelixMod on BlogSpot

                Beginning with story, Rise of the Tomb Raider has a definite adventure feeling to it.  Lara Croft sets out to clear her family name by seeking out an ancient artifact, said to have immense power; she must also face-off against conflicting forces that hope to control the artifact that she seeks.  These themes are common in adventure narratives, and lend towards the argument one could make towards Rise of the Tomb Raider being an adventure game.

                Adventure games are rarely ever solely adventure games, and the most common pairing for adventure in visual literature is action.  The action genre is defined primarily by its emphasis on dynamic, physical events.  Examples include buildings imploding while a protagonist is inside, heroes performing death-defying stunts, and, of course, high-energy battles between the protagonist and their opposition.  All of these themes, and more, are present within Rise of the Tomb Raider.

                While the Action/Adventure pairing can, and often does, stand alone, occasionally a third story genre can be incorporated.  Rise of the Tomb Raider makes this distinction by incorporating elements of narrative that can be categorized as a legend.  For the purposes of this argument, legend is defined as ‘a story that has a basis in fact, but contains supernatural elements.’  Arguably, Rise of the Tomb Raider fits this category, as Lara goes to several real places—such as Syria—and interacts with elements of the real world; however, she also encounters fantastical places, like the legendary city of Kitezh, and the immortal prophet Jacob.  These elements are enough to convince me that Lara Croft’s story, at least in this game, falls into the category of a Legend.

                Moving on to the gameplay, Rise of the Tomb Raider has very distinct elements of a platformer.  This is clear in the scenes where Lara has to outrun the destruction of the environment, or get to a difficult to reach area.  Her use of acrobatics, shimmying, and balancing qualify the game as a 3rd-Person Platformer game.

                Furthermore, the use of creeping and hiding tactics makes Lara Croft’s adventure a sort of stealth game.  The fact that you can hide from your enemies to take them out, or in some cases totally bypass them, and the sequences that emphasize stealth over force reinforce the argument that Rise of the Tomb Raider is a stealth game.

                Finally, it can be argued that Rise of the Tomb Raider fits, at least partially, into the role of a JRPG.  This is unsurprising, considering the game is made by Square Enix, which is known for its JRPGs.  The argument is strengthened by the fact that the game sets you on a specific storyline, with a pre-generated character, and a pre-ordained path with little deviation makes the game qualify more as a JRPG than a WRPG.


One thought on “Story and Gameplay of Rise of the Tomb Raider

  1. I agree with you up to the point of being a JRPG. By that logic, anything with a primarily embedded narrative and adventure elements would be a JRPG. It has some RPG elements to be sure – mostly in the form of skill and weapon customization – but the exact same things could be said of The Last of Us, and neither is exclusive to RPGs anymore. I think stealth/platformer/third-person shooter with RPG elements might describe the blend best.


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