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  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Lara is having a severe PTSD after Yamatai, making her incapable of clear judgement. Rather than treating it in just about any fashion, she goes like a ball in pinball machine for next two games, only increasing her trauma. It is not helping her "friends" vanish in the Interquel comics and she's left alone to mounting paranoia and delusions of grandeur.
  • Annoying Video-Game Helper: Just like in the trilogy's previous titles, Lara herself often slips into this role thanks to the hints she drops when you activate her Survival Instincts. It doesn't matter if you're actually stuck at a puzzle or just want to check the area for any collectibles you've missed, Lara will comment on how to proceed almost every time you hit that button. Higher puzzle difficulties avoid this because they disable her (admittedly helpful) comments completely, but of course this comes at a price itself.
  • Author's Saving Throw:
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    • The first two games were criticised for their heavy use of Notice This a bit too much, with grabbable ledges being clearly marked or interactable puzzle objects blatantly marked in Survival Instincts. Puzzle and exploration difficulty can now be set separately from combat difficulty (and each other), toning down this assistance or even removing it altogether.
    • After its predecessors faced heavy criticism for the low number and difficulty of their puzzles/tombs, Shadow addressed both items with considerably tougher challenge tombs in the base game and almost a dozen additional tombs being announced as DLC to be released over time.
    • A common criticism of the first two games was that they were too serious and grim, with Lara spending most of them either terrified, angry, stressed, or all three. In Shadow, while the tone and stakes are definitely still dark and serious, there's more humor and Lara smiles and laughs more than she did in the first two, getting a few lighthearted scenes demonstrating her friendship with Jonah.
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    • A lot of fans were displeased at the real lack of combat compared to the first two games, leaving you with a ton of weapon upgrades and combat oriented skills and not many chances to use them. The DLC tombs released after the game's launch have their own big combat setpieces, beefing up the action considerably.
    • On a minor note, after inexplicably growing a large beard and gaining curly hair in Rise, Jonah is back to having a ponytail and five o'clock shadow, as per the first game.
  • Awesome Music: The first gameplay trailer had "Speak Loud" by TRILLS, a wonderfully atmospheric and moody piece that perfectly sets the tone.
  • Bonus Feature Failure: The "Survivor" outfit (Lara's design from the 2013 Tomb Raider game) is rendered very differently from the other outfits (giving her a different face, cloudy eyes, very different hair, and looks more glossy). As a result it looks plain odd next to the other outfits, to the point of being off-putting. While her retro outfits from the original series have a nostalgic Stylistic Suck to them, this outfit just looks lazy in comparison to the other modern era outfits.
    • Speaking of the retro outfits, they can only be worn in certain parts of the game. So if you wanted to use the TR 2 skin for the whole game on your first run through, too bad.
  • Contested Sequel: While general consensus is that it's a fine game on its own, opinions are mixed as to how it compares to the previous games. Some think the story has genuinely improved, with Lara having more of a character arc, and Jonah being Rescued from the Scrappy Heap. Others don't feel that it improves enough upon Rise of the Tomb Raider, citing It's the Same, So It Sucks and Only the Creator Does It Right.
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  • Critical Research Failure: The puzzle related to the "Stations of the Cross" is just plain weird. It uses an ancient, long abandoned order of the stations. So old, it got dropped before the chapel with it was built. This set up a Schmuck Bait trap, and said bait is a go-to answer for any Catholic person, fitting the hints given in the game. So what the game considers a murderous trap should be a solution to the puzzle. And God forbids if you ain't Catholic, because then the entire thing turns into That One Puzzle, as described below.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: A common complaint leveled at the game by critics is that it is simply too dark, even compared to the prior games in the trilogy. Lara herself is at her most brutal and most selfish yet, and with the entire plot being set off by her actions combined with the brutality of her acts against Trinity, it's difficult to care about what happens.
  • Demonic Spiders:
    • The Empress Jaguars. They're extremely fast, can take a ton of damage to put down, and oh yeah, they can climb trees to get you.
    • You'll quickly come to hate the Yaaxil. These underground-dwelling creatures come in huge numbers, pack one hell of a punch at range and an even worse one in melee, sneak up on you from insane directions, are quite resilient, and they don't drop any ammo except arrows. Bows are mostly useless against their melee fighters (these guys can take a shotgun blast to the face and still ask for more), so you're essentially forced to resort to firearms, and woe betide you if you didn't fully upgrade your shotgun the moment you got it. Thankfully, enemies don't respawn in this game, so you're safe once you've cleared out a level once.
    • Towards the end you will come across Elite Mooks from Trinity who wear heat-vision goggles that let them see Lara in hiding spots(I.E. grass) unless you put on mud or hide behind walls, trying to take them on higher difficulties can be a nightmare.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: While Dominguez is sympathetic, people do sometimes ignore that he was planning to unleash the apocalypse to remake the world (Lara just happened to trigger it before he was ready, but he was still planning it).
  • Goddamn Bats:
    • Piranhas overlap this with Demonic Spiders. They will kill Lara if they spot and reach her, but their patrol routes are predictable and easy to avoid most of the time. Still, you'll probably groan every time you spot them in the water.
    • Moray eels play it straight by being annoying yet ultimately harmless, unless you suck at QTE.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: The Yaaxil are not the first encounter with an army of unearthly creatures for Patricia Velasquez (Unuratu's voice actress), who previously commanded an army of undead Pygmy warriors as Anck-Su-Namun in The Mummy Returns.
  • Like You Would Really Do It: Sure, you just killed Jonah off-screen with zero fanfare or final words, right after that character who was only in Act 2 had a whole cutscene and final words and 'give this to my son' thing. The fact that Lara has ZERO reason to trust anything the guy telling her this says pushes Lara herself straight into What an Idiot! territory.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Pedro Dominguez is the Big Bad of the final installment of Lara Croft’s Origins trilogy and the Greater-Scope Villain for its entirety. Born Amaru in the secret mayan city Paititi, he would be adopted by Trinity leader Gualtiero de Luca Dominguez who showed him life outside Paititi. Working his way up to becoming the leader of Trinity he would use their resources to make himself ruler of Paititi and the head of the Cult of Kukulkan, while removing their previous leaders from power. Befriending Richard Croft, he would have him killed when he learned of Richard Croft's intent to expose Paititi to the outside world. Learning about Key of Chak Chel and the Silver Box of Ix Chel, he would plan to use it to remake the world so that it would no longer pose a threat to Paititi having Lara Croft unknowingly retrieve both artifacts for him. Finding himself battling and losing to Lara, Dominguez uses his final moments to ask Lara to protect Paititi, showing his devotion to his beloved city to the end and gaining sympathy from the woman whose father Dominguez killed.
  • Moment of Awesome:
    • In Porvenir Oil Fields Rourke taunts Lara that Jonah is dead, sending her into a Tranquil Fury, and leading her to run straight into a Trinity trap. After an intense platforming sequence through an exploding oil platform she falls into the water and sinks, seemingly unconscious... Then her eyes snap open and she rises slowly from the burning water, stalking down a wounded and terrified Trinity grunt, who frantically tries to scramble away. She kills him, steals his LMG and then you go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge through the oil fields blowing shit up and mowing down dozens of Trinity goons who scream in terror at the mere sight of you. Hands down the most badass moment in the trilogy, hell possibly the entire goddamn franchise.
    • Lara teaming up with The Undead to overwhelm Trinity in the final battle, of note in particular is Rourke getting swarmed and killed while begging for mercy and the undead bringing down a chopper through sheer numbers.
    • the final battle with Dominguez, even him becoming a god isn't enough to stop Lara from stabbing him multiple times and finishing him off.
  • Narm: For some players and at least one review, activating immersion mode (lets natives talk in their local language instead of whatever language the game is set to) makes most of Lara's NPC conversations sound either unintentionally funny or unintentionally stupid, simply because Lara never switches to the other language herself. Especially the constant contrast between her original upper class English and Paititi's Incan is so crass that it actually breaks immersion instead of building it.
    • Unuratu's death scene is slightly undermined by the fact that she doesn't blink for almost the entire duration of it.
  • Ron the Death Eater: While Lara is certainly a Destructive Savior she DOES acknowledge that the Cleansing is her fault, DOES express guilt in her diary, is as determined to stop Trinity as she is to get revenge and is willing to commit a Heroic Sacrifice to save the world.
  • Scrappy Mechanic: Inspecting artifacts in TR 2013 and Rise was an easy, interesting and helpful feature; it unlocked additional background info on the artifact and gave some XP for discovering the hidden clue. Shadow turns the same feature into a chore. Background info is replaced with meaningless comments from Lara, the XP reward was scrapped, and the window you need to hit is not only unforgivingly tiny, it also doesn't trigger immediately when you get it right. There's a short delay just long enough to make you think you got it wrong, so you'll probably readjust and screw up for good in the process. The subtle bell sound when the angle is (close to) right doesn't really help, either.
  • Sequelitis: Steam ratings kept dropping for every title that came out after the first. While Tomb Raider (2013) still ranked a very impressive 95% more than five years after its release, Rise of the Tomb Raider sat at ~85% and Shadow at ~60%. Granted, Shadow was the subject of a massive backlash due to the publisher's ill-advised pricing strategy, but it already was the lowest-rated entry in the trilogy even before that hit struck.
  • Special Effects Failure:
    • When playing with either the Tomb Raider 2 or Angel of Darkness skins, Lara's mouth doesn't move during the cutscenes. For 2, this is understandable, since her mouth was static in that game as well, but for AOD it doesn't make sense because it did move in that game.
    • When opening any crypt sarcophagus, the animations of the lid sliding open and Lara putting her weight into pushing it are out of sync by several seconds. It essentially looks as if Lara starts opening the sarcophagus telekinetically before she remembers that not even her supernaturally charged world allows tricks like this, so she puts in a token physical effort to gloss over her lapse.
  • Squick: Lara operates a parasitic worm out of Jonah's arm shortly after landing in Peru. The thing is about a foot long and as thick as a pencil, and apparently it wormed its way into Jonah's arm just because he washed his lightly injured arm in a pond. He names it Eli after his cousin, because Eli also always managed to get under his skin, right before Lara stomps it flat.
  • That One Puzzle: The puzzle about the Stations of the Cross underneath the library in San Juan late in the game. The game hands Lara a pamphlet with hints, but it's buried deep in her long list of artifacts. And it's not exactly helpful with solving the puzzle anyway. You get one hint to the solution outside of the pamphlet, in an off-hand comment by Lara upon entering the general area. So even before you realize it might be important, you're screwed. And unless you make a secondary save ahead of time just before the conversation, there is no other way to repeat the dialogue when you eventually need the information, so you're forced to either brute-force your way through the puzzle (which requires watching Lara get gruesomely killed every time you pick the wrong answer) or consult the internet.
    • It doesn't help the puzzle is based on the old order of the stations. So even if you are Catholic, the numbering is going to get you killed in a deliberate trap. Lara mentions station 6 upon entering the chapel. In the order familiar to modern Catholic this would be "Veronica wipes the face of Jesus". But for whatever reason, it asks for order out of seven, not fourteen stations, thus asking you for old No. 6 - "Jesus is nailed to the cross". Thing is - both modern and old meaning of "station 6" is present. It's perfectly possible to get killed, or at least confused thanks to the existence of both answers. And not helped by the fact the old order got discontinued before the sanctuary was built, making it all the more confusing.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • Early press releases made it sound like Lara's guilt over taking the dagger would be a large part of her characterization in this game. It's only really touched on in the opening sequence and a few scenes later, with Lara being driven to stop Trinity via her usual determination rather than a sense of personal responsibility.
    • In the final level, it's mentioned that Trinity's high council is attending the ritual. Shortly thereafter, the Yaaxil slaughter them offscreen. It's a very unsatisfying end to them, especially Lara has no hand in it. Simply sticking them and any bodyguards they might have between Lara and Dominguez, forcing her to shoot her way through them to get to him, would've gone a long way in giving them a less anticlimactic conclusion.
    • The fact that the ultimate plot of entire vast paramilitary order of religious fanatics — who have ties so high up within the Vatican they were able to persecute a messianic figure in the Eastern Roman Empire far beyond the power of Rome, have been scouring the world for artifacts with the power to reshape the world in their image, murdering countless innocent people for centuries to hide both their own existence and erase those very artifacts from history — ultimately ends up being to hide one small, insignificant village of relict Maya is rather anticlimactic (seeing as the entire race against the apocalypse was triggered by Lara's actions, not Trinity themselves).
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Lara's habit of kicking off disastrous events that cost countless lives while shifting the blame on Trinity is one of the main reasons the trilogy in general, and Shadow in particular, received increasingly hostile reviews from critics and players alike. That Shadow decided to throw Mighty Whitey behavior into the mix and finally turned her into a completely unrepentant killer didn't exactly help her case, with a lot of people considering her to be and act more villainous than the games' actual villains.
    • This becomes so apparent that it also causes Unintentionally Sympathetic for the Big Bad Dr. Dominguez. Its revealed that Dominguez killed Lara's father because he was going to reveal the existence of the Hidden City and his people to the world as a great discovery, despite him begging Dr.Croft not to. Given that the two were supposed to be best friends also makes this an Alas, Poor Villain for the Big Bad. All he wanted to do was protect his people from outside invaders, who would conquer, destroy, and rob his homeland. Documents reveal that it was robbed before in the 1600s. He begs Lara throughout the game to let him protect his people, but Lara so hell bent on revenge doesn't listen and at most tries to guilt trip Dominguez with morality talk, despite her hands being far more dirty than his during the three games in the trilogy, which is lampshaded in-universe.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: Continuing the tradition set by the 2013 game of having breathtaking graphics, the scenery is just stunning to see. Players on the PC platform also get the extra benefit of Shadow being one of the first games to take advantage of Nvidia's ray-traced lighting technology, provide they have the hardware to do so.

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