Game Recs

You only have a few days to get the best adventure game trilogy for free

The Tomb Raider reboot trilogy is a must-play.

Each week, anybody with a free Epic Games Store can claim at least one new free video game, but the newest deal features an entire trilogy that just so happens to be one of the best reboots of all time. All three of Square Enix’s Tomb Raider games are currently free to claim and own forever until January 6 at 11 a.m sharp. Even if you’re totally unfamiliar with Tomb Raider, the trilogy represents some of the best action-adventure experiences you can have.

Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics released Tomb Raider in 2013. It remains a visionary reboot of the classic franchise, and it introduced the world to a new version of Lara Croft. Functioning as a kind of origin story for Lara Croft, the reboot evolves the franchise’s design by introducing a more grounded story, unique survival elements, and updated combat. While there’s not a lot of “tomb raiding” going on, the 2013 game strikes an endearing balance between puzzle-solving, exploration, and combat, which also lent to brisk pacing that never left the player bored.

The 2013 reboot also served as inspiration for the 2018 film simply titled “Tomb Raider.”Square Enix

The reboot absolutely takes some cues from Sony’s Uncharted series, but it translates that inspiration into something unique. The last third of the game still remains one of the best things the series has ever done, with an absolutely bombastic finale that doesn’t let up until the very last second. While the 2013 reboot still holds up well, it really helped set the foundation that the next two games would improve upon even more.

The second game, Rise of the Tomb Raider, is easily the best of the trilogy in terms of gameplay, even if its story does stumble a bit. A more robust crafting system was introduced with the sequel, which in turn helped lead to more options during combat. Rise of the Tomb Raider puts a big emphasis on experimentation, encouraging players to interact with different hazards and items littered throughout the environment.

The most impressive feat about the sequel, however, is how it manages to integrate a Metroidvania feel into the semi-open world. Throughout the game, you visit a few different hubs, all of which have various explorable areas, side quests, optional tombs, etc. While you’re free to explore wherever you want, completing tombs can grant you new equipment that expands your exploration options. The actual design of the tombs and puzzles is also a big improvement from the previous game, as Crystal Dynamics put a lot of emphasis on making them more complex and satisfying. These elements all combine into the best Tomb Raider experience to date, and one that really lets the player approach it however they want.

The third game, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, doesn’t feel like a huge improvement, but rather a refinement of what Rise of the Tomb Raider did. Gameplay is nearly identical to the previous game, outside of a new bartering system and some stellar difficulty options, with exploration, puzzle-solving, and combat each having its own difficulty setting. Setting and story are what really shine in Shadow of the Tomb Raider, with a story that effectively bounces back and forth from bombastic set pieces to character introspection on Lara.

Lara Croft feels like she’s really gone through a meaningful journey by the end of the trilogy, and the minute-to-minute gameplay is some of the bests you’ll find in the action-adventure genre. Even if you can’t immediately jump into the games it’s worth signing onto the Epic Games Store to claim your free copy.

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