Blood Ties – Lara’s personal story

With Rise of the Tomb Raider’s new 20 Year Celebration Pack DLC comes a short and background defining story about Lara – “Blood Ties”. If you don’t want spoilers, stop reading now and come back once you’ve played it.

Lara is facing eviction from Croft Manor by her uncle because her dad’s dead and her mother is “missing” so that somehow means he has rights to the estate… I’m not sure that makes total sense but in a longshot kind of way I guess it could happen? Anyway, Lara now has to try and find her dad’s will or proof that her mother is actually dead to retain ownership of the manor. The whole story is set inside Croft Manor and although it seems a little claustrophobic at first, but you’ll soon learn of concealed areas to explore. The whole journey seems like a light “tomb level”.

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“Blood Ties” is a very tight and personal story about Lara’s childhood and her parents. We learn through a series of diary’s and letters how Lara’s parents met, when they married and when they ultimately separated. I found the writing quite odd because the words they used and the subject matter seemed so archaic. Reading the letters, you could place them in the 1800s and it would make sense to me. But I guess they met young and if I had to timestamp it for the game, I would place it in the late 1960’s or 1970’s. But even then were people so concerned with class back then? Although it wasn’t written “amazingly”, the story that developed was interesting. I was looking forward to finding more clues to find out what happened to “mom” and whether Lara will be evicted. Thankfully, there were other characters intertwined to complement the main story. Like the family butler who was just so nice to Lara and incredibly supportive. He reminds me of Alfred from Batman Begins. There’s so much personal information we learn about Lara and her parents – for example her name! It’s an Egyptian name because she was conceived there. We also learn that the parent’s anniversary date and her “mom’s” birthday.

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I liked the story focus of this DLC. Sure I’m not shooting enemies (although there is that option) but looking for items to collect and piecing together the story was actually quite fun. The atmosphere was scary though, there were times when I didn’t want to move forward because I was sure there’s going to be a jump scare waiting for me. After finding out how Lara’s mother passed away I came across a rather interesting artefact:

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This was part of a set of statues Dad found in China. He thought is was linked to the Temple of Xian… perhaps I should look into it someday.

Yes, that is a typo in the game but more importantly. Way more importantly, is Crystal Dynamics hinting where the next game or future game might be set in? China is a huge country with different parts of it experiencing different weathers. There are regions with extreme conditions – icy cold to dry desert, to flash flooding to earthquakes. I would like to see a Tomb Raider game based in China exploring a myth and then raiding an ancient city with Chinese décor. Or is this too obvious and I’m getting excited for nothing? Only time will tell.

There were also nods to Lara’s previous expedition and my favourite one was a cool broken Katana:

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This was a good extension to our current Lara’s story and it would’ve been difficult to have fit it in the story without a weird jump. I’d recommend this to people who like learning character’s back story and not necessarily just interested in blowing things up.

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