What Doesn’t Kill You: As-I-Play Rise of the Tomb Raider (Part Five)

Yet again, we resume the story of the intrepid Lara Croft as she regains consciousness from head trauma that has to have some not insignificant impact on her brain in later life. I’ve been hit in the head hard enough to cause a concussion, and it was no fun, let me tell you (although I remained conscious, thankfully, and did not wake up, as Lara is about to, tied to a chair being tortured). And with no further ado… spoilers follow!

Lara wakes up and Ana (from the flashback to adult Lara in London) is tied up with her. She asks what’s happening. Lara says “This is all my fault,” and Ana asks her why, and she says that Trinity wants “what my father was after.” Ana tells her to give it to them. I have very strong suspicions that Ana is working for Trinity, particularly given her cleanliness in what is obviously a torture chamber. As Lara struggles, Konstantin comes in. He has a garrote. Well, maybe she’s not working for them. He starts to strangle Ana, and demands that Lara tell him where the Divine Source is. Lara says she doesn’t know (which she doesn’t, of course), and he stops. Ana then says, “That’s enough. She doesn’t know.” (Okay, I was right.)

Oooh. Lara almost calls her a “c**t,” but Konstantin hits her, cutting the word off (the subtitles read “you cu-“). I appreciate that. Then she asks, “Tell me. Were you recruited by Trinity before or after you started screwing my father?” Lara’s got some sass in her. I like it.

Ana tells Lara that “we can still be on the same side of history,” a line which too closely parallels the recording (from the last post) which says “I’m on the wrong goddamn side of history” to make anyone think that Trinity’s the right choice. It’s pretty obvious that the creepy Christian Illuminati are not the side to choose (whether the weird sect is a better choice remains to be seen).

Lara is taken to a prison cell, where there is another prisoner who asks what to call her. She says, “Nothing. I won’t be staying.” He asks if she can “get us out of here.” She answers, “There’s no us. I don’t even know who you are or why you’re here.” Then she apologizes, but says “I’m not feeling particularly trusting right now.” He tells her she “won’t get far without me.” She replies, “You don’t know how far I’ve come.”

I love this exchange, so much. It’s the essential you-need-my-help videogame quest trope, and Lara is having none of it. She doesn’t need this guy (male, white, seemingly Western, probably going to hit on her at some point) to escape, and she knows it. She’s not buying his mansplaining ass for one second, and that’s very gratifying. It’s probably also part of why RotTR has been accused of having a “feminist agenda” by idiots who were clearly not paying attention to TR2013, which has just as much of a feminist agenda, given that all the human villains were men (with the very obviously exception of Himiko), and of the four survivors, three were women (two of color) and the one man (Jonah) is an indigenous man of color. The “romance” interest (Alex) dies, the “father-figure” (Roth) dies, the quirky old man (Grim) dies, the asshole mentor (Whitman) dies, the evil mastermind (Mattias) dies… You get the idea. But apparently none of that fits a feminist agenda… (riiiiiiiiight)

Lara rips a piece of piping off the wall, and squeezes through, leaving her new mansplaining friend behind. Through the wall Lara picks up a new bow and some rope—-rope arrows, although she has to crawl back through because there’s no exit there. However, she’s pretty clearly more competent than this asshole, so I’m still okay with it. I know she’s going to end up rescuing his sorry butt, but I can take joy in the little moments of sticking it to the patriarchy.

Lara pulls down part of the doorframe, and crawls through, moving with absolutely zero intention of helping her ostensible friend. He begs her to let him out. He offers knowledge and experience, and Lara dismisses him. Then he offers to help locate the Source. She unlocks the door. His name is Jacob. She gives him a radio “in case we get separated.” Jacob says he knows the way out because he’s had time to study the place. I’m dubious. So is Lara.

Outside, a helicopter is dropping off a crate, and it’s clear Lara and Jacob will have to fight their way out. Lara tells Jacob to wait, and takes care of it herself.

In the control room (where Lara can open the doors) there is a recording from Konstantin expressing concern that Ana feels too much sympathy for Lara, that “She must have faked her emotions for Lord Croft so powerfully they became real,” which is a problem because Konstantin and Ana were apparently a couple before that. Clearly this is going to be one of those situations where Ana ends up doing something to save Lara and Konstantin kills her, which is going to make him hate Lara even more… yadda yadda.

Inside one of the buildings, Lara overhears Ana and Konstantin discussing how the site where the Source is hidden is hard to get to, covered with clouds, etc. Naturally, it’s being protected by God or the Prophet or whatever. Jacob is hunched just inside the window listening as Lara crawls through. Konstantin accuses Ana of protecting Lara, and she gets angry at him, which is broken up by a coughing fit (clearly, she’s sick, and the Source is going to heal her so that she can “live in a world cleansed of sin,” Konstantin says). He then says, “We’re in this together, sister, remember.” She replies, “Always” as they walk out. I’m not sure if that’s a religious “sister” or a biological “sister,” but either way it’s creepy.

Lara fights her way out, crawling through more water, of course, and ends up at a Base Camp outside. Now she has a pistol, an axe, an assault rifle, and a bow… but she’s lost her jacket and looks very cold and pathetic. I wish she had a coat, if only because it makes her not dying of hypothermia while wet and in Siberia a very slight bit more believable. Also, she’s making me cold.

Moving on, Lara finds a recording from Konstantin, this one explaining his stigmata (sort of): “I was a child, innocent to the evils of the world. Then, one night, I woke in such pain, a scream on my lips. Blood dripped from my palms. when I saw it I was terrified. It marked me. It meant something. I cannot shirk this mission any more than I can shirk my own hands.” So I guess his creepy stigmata are not self-inflicted (or, at least, they weren’t originally).

Moving through some train cars, Lara finds Jacob as he kills a Trinity soldier. She says that she thought she lost him, and he replies “Not a chance,” followed by another thank-you for getting him out of prison (at least he’s polite). And then they’re running from a helicopter. The helicopter blows out the bridge, Lara and Jacob look at one another, then jump off the bridge and into the water below.

There’s a brief section of swimming for her life through a mostly-frozen lake, then Lara climbs out. Jacob does not appear to be with her, although at this point we’ve moved so far past hypothermia that I’ve given up on any semblance of temperature-verisimilitude. And now another runny-chasy-jumpy sequence where the helicopter destroys all the ice that Lara is running on. These are not my favorite parts of the game. At the end, Lara falls into the water and loses consciousness (loss of consciousness number six), flashing back to finding her father dead in his office, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot, although the window is mysteriously open, so I’m guessing that Trinity had something to do with it.

Lara regains consciousness with someone waving incense in her face. Jacob hands her a bowl of something and tells her it will help. She says he could have left her in the river, and he asks if she would have left him. She replies, “I’d have thought about it.” He laughs and says, “What makes you think I didn’t?” He asks her “not to abandon your quest, but to alter its path” to repel Konstantin and Trinity, then leave. She agrees to help fight Trinity, “but I need answers, Jacob. I need to understand.” He leaves her in the Hidden Refuge, saying he’ll be back.

I take the opportunity to catch up on things I missed, traveling back into the Gulag camp in order to shoot more laptops and grab a couple of survival caches. Most of it was empty, although the last section had more men in it again for her to have to kill. This is also a good opportunity to go back to earlier sections that had areas Lara couldn’t access without a lock pick or rope arrows. I’m not going to bore you with the details of mushrooms and random artifacts.

Back to the Soviet Installation area, where I know there’s another tomb or cave I can only get at with rope arrows. I’m pretty sure it’s a hidden tomb. Let’s go find out. OH MY GOD COUGAR. There was NOT a cougar there before. There is now not a cougar anymore, but GAH!! Cougar. Okay. Cougar is dead.

There’s a Base Camp inside, which means that, yep, it’s a tomb. I’m placing bets right now that there’s swimming involved. There’s always swimming in tombs (this isn’t really a problem, aside from the fact that I’m in Siberia… the swimming was much more believable in Syria, when Lara’s likelihood of death from hypothermia wasn’t pretty much 150%, like it is in Siberia in the winter—just sayin’). The gorge is really quite pretty, actually. And the tomb is called the “Voice of God.” I’m inside the tomb of the Metatron? (For those of you who aren’t familiar with Judeo-Christian-Islamic angelology—yes, that’s a thing—the Metatron is the Voice of God, conventionally named Sandalphon. Trivia for the day.)

Outside the door, she finds a set of Maniples, “A ceremonial cloth worn by priests during Mass,” which I always thought was called a stole, although a quick google search for vestments tells me that the maniples are worn over the wrists, while the stole is worn around the neck (which, when all you’re looking at is a strip of fabric with no perspective to tell how big it is, is why I thought this thing was a stole—the more you know).


There’s a hollow ringing sound here, like what I imagine a giant Tibetan singing bowl would sound like if one were to stand inside it. Lara wonders what that is. Inside, a scroll explains how a scout found “this place” by hearing the sound—”This is not just a shrine to him and his bravery, but to the strength of our faith.” So it’s the sound that’s the voice of God. Got it. Lara figures out how to open the door, and finds a gorge on the other side: “Unbelievable. It’s a natural formation” of basalt columns with holes through which the wind in the gorge blows, making the sound. The codex contains meditations on will power. In the meantime, the force-feedback on the controller caused by the “sound” is vibrating CONSTANTLY. It’s kinda making my elbows hurt.

Back near Jacob’s hide-out, there is another cave, which turns out to be an entrance to a crypt. I’m definitely a crypt kind of girl, so this seems like fun. There’s a plaque that reads, “Damien, the Prophet’s forge.” And water, because of course there’s water. Inside, Lara legit just opens the tomb of a dead guy—and there’s a dead guy inside. I’m not sure whether to give props to Crystal Dynamics for owning the whole “Tomb Raider” identity, or whether they ought to have avoided the explicit hi-I’m-an-imperialist-tomb-raider thing. The dead guy is really dead. Dried up, even. With spiderwebs in a halo around his head, which I suppose is kind of a nice touch, given that he’s a near-saint to the Remnants and all.

The map tells me that my mission-giving friend has something for me to do. He wants me to free some of his people. Okay. I can do that. And… some other guy suddenly tells me not to shoot him, he’s with Jacob, and he needs me to kill some wolves. Okay. I’ve been doing that anyway. It also explains why the stupid wolves kept respawning. Well, they’re dead now. The nice man gives me a thing to use with my guns. That done, I head toward the train yard to rescue the other Remnants.

Oh, right. There was a door in here that needed a lock pick (which I now have). There’s a gulag ID card inside. Sadly, it turns out that to get to the cave behind the train station, I don’t actually go TO the train station. Okay. Back out and across the lake, and then swim, because of course I have to swim. And they are in the train station—just behind a door that I couldn’t open from the other side. When Lara returns to her friend, he says that it isn’t a coincidence that she’s in their valley. Fate, how charming.

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[…] is always a part of the start of a new semester, some insanity in Rise of the Tomb Raider—my fifth As-I-Play post over on TLF. By this point in the game, things are starting to get interesting, and there’s a little rant […]

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