Rise of the Tomb Raider

A look at religion in Lara Croft’s latest adventure. By Pat Davet.

Adventure games always grapple with religion. A hero is usually after some ancient city or treasure, almost always cursed or guarded. There they must confront difficult truths that may fly in the face of their beliefs. Indiana Jones, arguably the greatest icon of adventure in media, had this experience multiple times. Another great adventure icon, Lara Croft, is in the same boat.

Rise of the Tomb Raider is the sequel to Crystal Dynamics’ 2013 reboot of the classic series. The new Tomb Raider games are darker and grittier. Lara is less of an adventurer than she is a survivor. There are human tolls to her exploits. Rise finds her to be psychologically damaged from her previous near-death experiences. It’s no coincidence that this game decided to take a religious route in exploring the nature of good and evil in the world.

Rise of the Tomb Raider is about Lara’s search for an ancient, messianic figure known as the Prophet and his Divine Source. This trek takes on a personal tone, as it is the last mission that her father ever left to complete. He never returned from his journey to find the Divine Source. In Lara’s adventure, she finds a group of people known as Remnants, who believe that the Source is the soul of God. The Remnants are not kind. They are wary outsiders and they refuse to give Lara aid until they receive evidence of her trust. They are much like orthodox religious groups we find in the world today - isolated, and incredibly devoted. Lara, after a while, becomes a part of this group, and they take her in with open arms.

It’s a game that doesn’t just look at the goodness of communal worship, the villain of the game is a highly religious individual. Konstantin, the big bad of Rise, actually believes that God is on his side. Often we see him praying for divine help. He is powerful, corrupt, and wholly convinced he is right. What is more powerful than having a God on your side? It’s all the evidence he needs to kill innocents and destroy villages. If it’s a part of God’s plan, why hold back?