Tomb Raider is a franchise that needs no introduction: it is one of gaming’s longest-running franchises that has helped define the action-adventure genre, and it also stands out as one of the first large franchises to feature a female protagonist.

However, Tomb Raider has been around for over two decades at this point, so naturally, the games changed and evolved over the years. In this article, we’ll be going over all the Tomb Raider games ever released, providing a brief overview of each one.

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Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider

Release date: October 25, 1996

Platforms: Sega Saturn, Sony PlayStation, MS-DOS, Classic Mac OS, N-Gage, iOS, Android

The very first game in the franchise is the one that sets the tone for all the sequels and reboots that would follow over the years. 

Simply known as “Tomb Raider,” the game hit the shelves in 1996, published for the Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation consoles, as well as MS-DOS. Tomb Raider introduces the player to the series’ iconic protagonist, Lara Croft, and her signature dual pistols. 

The game features 3D levels that were quite something back in 1996, and while there was combat involved, it was puzzles, acrobatics, and exploration that were the primary focus of the game.

Tomb Raider II

Tomb Raider II

Release date: October 31, 1997

Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Sony PlayStation, Classic Mac OS, iOS, Android

The second Tomb Raider game came out a year later, and it did what sequels usually do: it built upon the foundation established by the original and expanded upon it by introducing some new additions that help improve and streamline the experience.

Fundamentally, Tomb Raider II doesn’t differ much from the original, as it still focuses on the exploration of various locations and features plenty of puzzle-solving, though it is noticeably more action-oriented. 

There were many improvements, such as enhanced graphics and a variety of new gameplay mechanics that helped the experience feel more dynamic and engaging, not to mention the inclusion of new weapons.

Tomb Raider III

Tomb Raider III

Release date: November 20, 1998

Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Sony PlayStation, Classic Mac OS

Tomb Raider III, also known as Tomb Raider III: Adventures of Lara Croft, kept the formula mostly unchanged, for better or for worse.

The game features a variety of locations around the world, and it takes a step back from the trigger-happy pacing of the second game to focus more on exploration and puzzles, like the original Tomb Raider.

Naturally, the engine was updated once again. Hence, the game featured even better graphics, but as mentioned above, it didn’t introduce any vital changes to the tried-and-true formula already seen in the previous two games.

Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation

Tomb Raider The Last Revelation

Release date: November 19, 1999

Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Sony PlayStation, Sega Dreamcast, Classic Mac OS

The fourth game in the series, Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation, is the fourth game in the franchise and also the first game where franchise fatigue truly started setting in.

As you might have guessed, The Last Revelation added little apart from the usual technical improvements – improved graphics, smoothed-out gameplay mechanics, and some new gear. 

It is one of the weaker links in the franchise, which really failed to stand out, and as you might have guessed from the title, it was initially supposed to be the final Tomb Raider game.

However, due to the franchise’s sheer popularity, more games had to be developed, and several mediocre sequels would follow before the series received its first soft reboot.

Tomb Raider (Game Boy Color)

Tomb Raider Game Boy Color

Release date: June 8, 2000

Platforms: Game Boy Color

The GBC game titled simply “Tomb Raider” was released in the year 2000, and while it was nowhere near as advanced and sophisticated as the first four games, this 2D platformer was a welcome change of pace for the series, and it was the first Tomb Raider game made for a portable console.

Tomb Raider Chronicles

Tomb Raider Chronicles

Release date: November 17, 2000

Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Sony PlayStation, Sega Dreamcast, Classic Mac OS

As we have already mentioned, despite the devs planning to off Lara in The Last Revelation, there was still a high demand for Tomb Raider games, which meant there had to be more sequels. This led to the development of what is possibly the weakest link in the franchise – Tomb Raider Chronicles.

The game features more of the same gameplay that was already seen in the earlier games, and with the release of chronicles, there was no denying that Tomb Raider needed to change if it wanted to survive.

Tomb Raider: Curse of the Sword

Tomb Raider Curse of the Sword

Release date: June 25, 2001

Platforms: Game Boy Color

Curse of the Sword is the sequel to the first Tomb Raider game made for the Game Boy Color, and it, too, was a 2D platforming experience that featured all the trademark elements of the series. 

But naturally, being an obscure GBC title that was never ported to any other platforms, it is little more than a footnote in the series’ history.

Tomb Raider: The Prophecy

Tomb Raider The Prophecy

Release date: November 12, 2002

Platforms: Game Boy Advance

Tomb Raider: The Prophecy was the third handheld Tomb Raider game, which was released exclusively for the Game Boy Advance. Unlike the previous two games, which were side-scrolling platformers, The Prophecy featured a top-down isometric view. 

Of course, it had better graphics and was more complicated, as was fitting for the then-newer, more advanced platform – no pun intended.

Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness

Tomb Raider The Angel of Darkness

Release date: June 17, 2003

Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Sony PlayStation 2, macOS

The Angel of Darkness was the final Tomb Raider game to be developed by the original studio, Core Design.

As you might have guessed, the game was met with mixed reviews, though not for the reasons you might expect. The graphics were significantly improved compared to the previous titles – courtesy of the PlayStation 2 – and the story was quite well-received.

However, rather than just “being more of the same,” the gameplay mechanics of The Angel of Darkness were a step down according to many. The controls felt clunky and unbecoming of a 2003 PS2 title, plus bugs plagued it, all the while the new stealth mechanics felt poorly implemented and superficial.

With all the mixed and negative reviews that The Angel of Darkness and Chronicles were receiving, it was high time for Tomb Raider to get a makeover, and sure enough, it got it.

Tomb Raider: Legend

Tomb Raider Legend

Release date: April 7, 2006

Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Sony PlayStation 2, Sony PlayStation 3, PSP, Xbox, Xbox 360, Nintendo DS, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo GameCube

After the poor reception of The Angel of Darkness, the Tomb Raider IP was handed over to a new developer – Crystal Dynamics. As expected, the new team had a fresh perspective, and they delivered a game that successfully breathed new life into the franchise – Tomb Raider: Legend.

Legend was a soft reboot of sorts that kicked off a new storyline and brought Lara Croft into the then-new 7th generation of consoles. Of course, it was still released for 6th generation consoles, too, albeit it was only on newer hardware that the new engine and graphics could truly shine.

Apart from beautiful environments, Legend featured the right balance of action and puzzles. However, the puzzles weren’t as challenging as those in some of the earlier games, and the combat could get stale and started feeling very simplistic after a while.

In any case, Legend was an all-around solid Tomb Raider game that was met with generally positive reviews, and it was a definite step up from the earlier sequels.

Tomb Raider: Anniversary

Tomb Raider Anniversary

Release date: June 1, 2007

Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Sony PlayStation 2, Sony PlayStation 3, PSP, Xbox 360, Wii, macOS

A year after Legend, Tomb Raider made a bit of a return to its roots with the 2007 remake of the first game titled Tomb Raider: Anniversary. It was rebuilt from scratch using the new engine that was introduced with Tomb Raider: Legend.

But while it handled more or less the same as Legend, Anniversary took a step back from the flashiness and bombast that defined Legend and provided a more “old school” puzzle-oriented Tomb Raider experience, and it did so masterfully.

Sadly, despite being a high-quality remake that received a lot of praise from critics, it remained the worst-selling Tomb Raider game to date, which is probably partly due to the more challenging puzzles and how different it was from Legend.

Tomb Raider: Underworld

Tomb Raider Underworld

Release date: November 18, 2008

Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Sony PlayStation 2, Sony PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, Nintendo DS, Nokia N-Gage 2.0, macOS

Tomb Raider: Underworld came out in 2008, and with it, Crystal Dynamics concluded the story started in Tomb Raider: Legend. However, Underworld was a bit of a mixed bag.

While it featured a noticeable graphics improvement and the gameplay felt much smoother and more streamlined compared to Legend, at times, it also felt somewhat oversimplified. It featured some very uninspired-looking levels that stood in stark contrast to some others.

Ultimately, Underworld wasn’t as well-received as Legend was, but it was still a competent Tomb Raider game that did some things even better than Legend. 

The combat was fast and dynamic; the levels were less linear, open for exploration, and featured some good puzzles.

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light

Release date: August 18, 2010

Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Sony PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, iOS, Android

Released in 2010, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light came out and constituted an exciting change of pace for the series. 

Notably, it didn’t carry the Tomb Raider brand in the title, and it was a top-down game that placed an accent on 2-player cooperative play. But of course, the game can be experienced fully in single-player as well.

This fresh take on Tomb Raider was executed exceptionally well, which led to great reviews from critics, at least as far as the actual gameplay was concerned. 

But while the puzzles and the action were both great, the plot wasn’t this game’s focus, and that was probably intentional.

Tomb Raider (2013)

Tomb Raider 2013

Release date: March 5, 2013

Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, macOS, Nvidia Shield, Google Stadia

Next, in 2013, Tomb Raider saw its first real reboot in the form of a game known simply as “Tomb Raider.” The reboot included many features that became common for third-person shooters and action-adventure games at the time. 

It also featured a cover system, a crafting system, and placed an extra emphasis on realism, among other things, all taking place in semi-open levels on a lost Japanese island.

Though it was grittier and bloodier than any of the previous Tomb Raider games, calling the 2013 Tomb Raider a “realistic” game would be stretching the definition. It has its fair share of spectacle, it is very action-focused, and shootouts are remarkably fluid, fun, and engaging. 

However, there is far less puzzle-solving than in the previous installments, and nearly all of the challenging puzzles are entirely optional.

Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris

Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris

Release date: December 9, 2014

Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris is a sequel to Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, so it plays very similarly – a fixed-perspective isometric camera and a co-op mode, this time featuring a total of four playable characters. 

As you might have guessed, it didn’t add any significant innovations and wasn’t as big as The Guardian of Light, but it is still an excellent game that’s a must-play for those who liked its predecessor.

Rise of the Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider Underworld

Release date: November 10, 2015

Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, macOS, Linux, Google Stadia

Next came a sequel to the 2013 reboot, and it was titled Rise of the Tomb Raider. There isn’t much to say about Rise, apart from it being a competent sequel that adds several new improvements while still “playing it safe” by not making any significant changes or trying out any innovations.

That said, Rise of the Tomb Raider features plenty of semi-open levels that can be explored, flashy action sequences, all the while being a big step up from a technical standpoint. 

It features beautiful graphics that genuinely made its environments shine. Sadly, many felt the plot wasn’t the game’s strong point, though it made up for that in other departments.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Release date: September 14, 2018

Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, macOS, Linux, Google Stadia

And finally, we have what is currently the latest main game in the series – a sequel to Rise of the Tomb Raider known as Shadow of the Tomb Raider. And no, that naming scheme probably isn’t going away any time soon.

The game was developed by Eidos Montreal, though you probably wouldn’t have guessed it, as the gameplay remains more or less the same as the previous two titles. It featured an exciting mix of action and exploration, and it even placed a greater emphasis on puzzles.

All in all, Shadow of the Tomb Raider received generally positive reviews. However, it may feel swamped by all the “checkmarks” that developers want to include in modern action games e.g. a trading system, stealth mechanics, and so on.

Tomb Raider Mobile Games

In addition to all the main series games listed above, the Tomb Raider franchise has also received a number of mobile spin-off titles – four Java games and three games released for modern smartphone operating systems.

Game

Release In

Platform

Tomb Raider: The Osiris Codex

2003

Java ME

Tomb Raider: Quest for Cinnabar

2004

Java ME

Tomb Raider: Elixir of Life

2004

Java ME

Tomb Raider: Puzzle Paradox

2005

Java ME

Lara Croft: Reflections

2013

iOS

Lara Croft: Relic Run

2015

iOS, Android, Windows Phone

Lara Croft Go

2015

iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Windows, macOS, Linux, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita

Conclusion

That would be an overview of all the Tomb Raider games released so far! If you feel that we have missed anything important or made any errors, let us know in the comments and we’ll see about fixing the article ASAP.

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