Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Interactive Friction: Tomb Raider (2013): Episode 14: (Speaking Japanese)

In this episode, Lara is (of course), on her own against hordes of evil Japanese soldiers.

Since we're coming up to the finale, I think it's time to talk a little about the supernatural stuff in the game. Like its contemporaries in Indiana Jones and Uncharted, Tomb Raider incorporates the paranormal into its story.

As we have seen in the playthrough, Himiko is always an influence in the plot. She is what is preventing anyone from leaving the island, by using the storm to crash any incoming and outgoing vessels. Now, we see immortal Japanese warriors fighting to defend their queen. If any doubts still existed at this point, they will be quelled at the finale.

What I would have liked more in this story is for the existence of the supernatural to be more ambiguous. One of my favorite tropes in fiction is whether not spooky happenings are truly paranormal in nature, or a complete coincidence. As someone who watched The X-Files, my biggest criticism of the show was that there was almost never any mystery as to whether or not supernatural forces were at work. As the audience, we know that some monster is at work, which makes Scully's skepticism seem unreasonable. It would be more interesting if there was enough leeway to allow for both interpretations, with evidence of the paranormal being easily explained away or circumstantial at best.

The same problem exists here as well. We're given so much evidence that Himiko is real and truly the one behind everything that any skepticism from the supporting cast comes off as remarkably flimsy. It would do more for both them and Lara's character if there was less certainty as to whether or not there were supernatural occurrences. That small room for doubt would make for some really interesting play between Lara and both her friends and the player.

To me, it seems like a missed opportunity.

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