I was deeply concerned. That concern grew when I saw the gameplay trailers of a screaming, struggling woman tossed unceremoniously through gloomy passageways. What about that was heroic? And where were the puzzles, the pistols, the places to explore? With a sense of resigned disappointment, I became convinced that the game would probably suck.

I preordered it anyway, partly out of stubborn curiosity, mainly because I knew I’d be writing about it one way or the other. Some extended gameplay footage and promising interviews with lead writer Rhianna Pratchett encouraged me, but I remained dubious, afraid of getting my hopes up. In the run-up to release, I played Tomb Raider: Anniversary, a polished repackaging of the original game. It took no time for me to remember why my younger self had adored Lara. She’s cool and cocky, fearless to a fault. But it was clear, too, that I had filled in a lot of blanks on my own. The original incarnation of Lara Croft is not a layered one. There’s no backstory, no real motivation beyond thrill seeking. I didn’t need anything more than that at the age of eleven, but nowadays, I am not so easily satisfied. And so, with equal parts hope and dread, I held my breath, and finally clicked “Play.” Having long since exhaled, I can now say this with certainty:

The new Tomb Raider is absolutely fantastic.

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