24 June 2012

With this latest Tomb Raider, the main focus so far is on the survival aspect, the more violent scenes and the portrayal of women. There has been more about how the game is completely different to the franchise and comparing the older versions of Lara to the latest one. Yet there are several traits that stay the same in this instalment. The tale of Atlantis, Ancient Egyptian mythology, Arthurian Legend, all of these are fables that have been explored in interesting way throughout the series. They are vital parts of the storyline and they help shape Lara’s personality. The mixture of reality and mystical elements were what made Tomb Raider a success in the original title and it’s also something that Crystal has continued in this game too.

Within the first few moments of the game, Lara discovers fresh ritualistic markings on the door of a traditional Japanese village. Noticing the discovering, Dr Whitman (one of the Endurance survivors) introduces the player to section of Japanese mythology originated from the 3rd century and to the Sun Goddess, Himiko.

Throughout the recently shown level, there are several shrines dedicated to the Goddess varying in style. Numerous markings made in white chalk are etched around the area especially on doors which could suggest that the Himiko is protecting the village. As a goddess of the sun, it’s possible that light in the game represents clarity and safety from the darkness of the woods and the island. Which could explain why the village was so brightly lit by torches; perhaps there is some supernatural danger in the woods?

After recovering from the bear trap incident, a nearby journal can be discovered and read. The latest entry is presumably from the civilisation that previously inhabited the island. The manuscript tells the story of a father (the author) whose daughter (Miku) goes missing one night, and three days later he attempts to search for her. The finishing sentence warns about the disappearance of people throughout the night, and presumably taken by something. This could explain the markings of the Sun Goddess as her protection would defend the civilisation from the evils in the dark.

Although if we change our perspective and look at the Sun Goddess as being the cause for problems in the island, we get a much more grim and disturbing image. In the first scene, when Lara awakens in the tomb she discovers another member from the Endurance, Steph. Things don’t go all that well for Steph, as her corpse is illuminated by candlelight in an alter or ritualistic demonstration. Given the depictions of a female figure with a sun shaped headdress, it’s not too insane to perhaps interpret the scene as being a sacrifice for the Goddess. So far all the alters; the sacrifices, the seated figures, the chalk drawings are all women, so perhaps the role of female character plays an important part to the game’s storyline.

Although another idea arises, if the island focuses on woman either as a worshipped figure or as a sacrificial maiden...Then why would Lara wake up in the state she did; upside down in a cocoon in the darkest corner of some cavern? Judging from the state of the bodies surrounding our protagonist in a similar state, they didn’t kidnap her to use her as a part of some event.

Skip along a few chapters and Lara is standing next to Dr Whitman, a presumed archaeologist with a firm dedication to the glory of discovery and fame and seemingly to eager to learn more about the island. After getting the door open, they talk about the religious imagery on the island, the chalk drawings, the seated figures. Lara makes a reference to the “fresh chalk” and the candles being lit and poses the question “why is she still being worshiped?” The island itself seems pretty barren, a chapter from a old horror story in which horrors lurk in the shadows and people are not who they seem, it can be seen as though Himiko is being worshipped as a way of coping with the island? After all Crystal did warn us that the island itself is the main threat? I guess we’ll find out more about these sacrificial alters and worshipped Goddess when the game comes out next year!

Reference: Tomb Raider played at The Hospital Club, (Press Event) - 23rd June 2012


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