Lara faces off against a legendary witch in this new DLC pack. An unlikely tale to be woven into the Tomb Raider universe, this add-on does a great job of bringing Slavic folklore to life. Read on to find out how well it integrates into Lara's already epic tale.
Baba Yaga: The Temple of the Witch is a short-lived addition to the main story that starts out in familiar Siberian Wilderness. Upon visiting the old saw mill in the center of recognizable scenery, Lara is confronted with more than the smattering of enemies that she's used to encountering on previous jaunts in these woods. After taking down the trinity guards, Lara finds a scared young woman hiding in a locker. She goes on to tell Lara about how her grandparents have gone missing in the Wicked Vale and she wants Lara to free them from becoming a Baba Yaga snack. Lara visits the Wicked Vale and is overcome with hallucinations caused by blossoming poisonous flowers. She promptly leaves to collect some supplies in order to form an antidote that will prevent her from hallucinating when she returns to venture deeper through the Vale. During her second visit, the environments are quite different in their unaltered forms. Lara makes her way through a colourful cave, snow-covered woods, across a chasm on a zip-line and finally to a large tomb where she fights the witch in quite an epic boss battle.
The visuals when first entering the Wicked Vale are far from what you're used to in modern Tomb Raider games. Lara stumbles as she walks through a flowery cave filled with green pollen clouds then makes her way to a confined winter woodland area. The poisonous blossoms' power is so strong that it takes hold of her while she walks through the woods and follows an imaginary figure that she believes is her father. As she tries to convince herself that it's not real, she spots a giant walking house with chicken legs and is attacked by fearsome shadow-like creatures. It really does a fantastic job of establishing a fantasy horror atmosphere. However, when seen with a clear head, her surroundings are mostly recognizable, save for riding a house-shaped mechanism across a gorge.
As you play, you'll come across familiar events such as a fetch quest to gather materials for the antidote concoction (in the Siberian Wilderness), shooting at bad guys and traversing caves and woodland areas. There is one large puzzle that you'll be faced with that I found to be the most difficult out of all of the ones in the main game. After many hems and haws, I found my way through it and felt a sense of accomplishment when I finally did. The boss battle has Lara pulling the floating witch into the sight-line of a gas valve that's rigged to blow when the witch gets close. This must be done countless times to eventually defeat her, and she doesn't make it easy. Floating platforms appear in the middle of the tomb and Lara must raise them in order to reach new gas valves higher and higher up, all while battling hordes of soldiers that look rather creepy after Lara's antidote starts to wane. I found the battle challenging and interesting enough to keep my eyes glued to the screen until it was over. Sadly, when it concluded, that was the end of the story. The whole journey took me about an hour and a half to finish, with another hour or so to complete the challenge of shooting the witch's lanterns while on the house zip-line and collect all of the documents, relics and coin caches.
When you complete the DLC fully, you'll end up with a new outfit that makes you look like the witch as well as a special arrow type. This allows you to shoot hallucinogenic arrows at enemies to send them into trances. I already had the poisonous arrows available to me and I never used them much, so I'm not sure when I'll ever make use of this new weapon other than just once so I can watch a trinity soldier react to the pollen. For such a short story, I expected to see more added to the main game such as some additional collectibles hidden across the maps for me to find or a few extra challenge tombs.
This DLC is a must-buy for any major fan of the modern Tomb Raider games with its fairy tale plotline and visuals bringing something fresh to the series. However, enjoy it while it lasts as the fun will be over within a few hours at the most.
- + Interesting story and visual effects
- + Solid gameplay with challenging puzzles and an epic boss battle at the end
- + New weapon and outfit are nice additions
- - Content only lasts a couple of hours
- - Besides the weapon and outfit, no significant value is added to the main game