A decent game that falls way short of its promises, and can't seem to make up its mind what it wants to be
Not being versed in the Tomb Raider series, I am judging this as a standalone game.
We were promised many things with this game. We were told it was about survival, we were told it would humanize Lara Croft and make her more relatable, and it was implied that this game would be open-world to a degree. Well, most of this isn't true.
The "survival" is a joke. Early in the game, Lara needs food, for scripted reasons. You have to hunt and kill a deer. That's... basically it. Lara's has "find hidden food sources more easily" as an upgrade, but that has zero purpose, as food essentially does not exist in gameplay.
The world is not open. It's linear in an Uncharted sense (albeit with the ability to warp to previous locations and use new abilities to explore further), with the occasional open environment to fight in. There was one fantastic area where enemies were searching for Lara in the woods, and I was able to take a number of them out stealthily before the rest found me and I had to use the environment intelligently to hide and fight them off. Such moments are fantastic... when they occur, which isn't that often. Most of the fights are just Uncharted-style setpieces in limited areas.
Speaking of Uncharted-style setpieces, there's a lot of scripting and Press X To Not Die
moments. When Lara falls down a shaft, has to shimmy along a wall, or has to climb a ladder that's bending and breaking, I find it impossible to take her struggles seriously when I'm just holding up the whole time and I can tell the situation is entirely out of my hands.
The story is more well-done, though it's contradicted by the gameplay. The characters are excellently done, dialog is fantastic, and Lara really is very human. She gets covered with dirt and sometimes even blood, getting cuts and bruises and showing wear and tear from the adventure. She also dresses practically, like she's prepared for survival. However, this "more realistic, more human" Lara can take video-game-character degrees of damage and fight off half a dozen people at once, not long after her first kill freaks her out.
I get the impression that there were competing visions for what this game was meant to be: survival on a deserted island, or an Uncharted ripoff. They went with the conservative choice, but remnants of the original vision still linger.