The Tomb Raider franchise has set a benchmark for action adventure games while consistently indulging its audiences’ enthusiasm for the past. Sometimes while dual-wielding pistols.
Here are six games like Tomb Raider that let players swing from joist to joist in abandoned places, solve ancient riddles, and dispatch mercenary interlopers with acrobatic flair, frustrating professional archaeologists all the while.
1. A Plague Tale: Innocence
Stealth and puzzle-solving defines A Plague Tale: Innocence, a game set in 14th century France ravaged by plague and the Inquisition. Unlike Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft, the sibling characters Hugo and Amicia are not the most accomplished gymnasts. However their adventures have them stealthily evading more numerous and more powerful opponents in landscapes marked by devastation and abandonment.
2. Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb
Playing Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb approximately two decades after it was first released on the original Xbox and PlayStation 2 is a strange and surprisingly rewarding experience. The Emperor’s Tomb articulates Indiana Jones as a gun-toting adventurer intent on looting an artefact in the jungles of Ceylon, present-day Sri Lanka, in 1935, and a string of other locations in a plot that presages the 1984 film Temple of Doom.
Confronting armed resistance in the form of the Nazi SS, Indiana Jones wields a bullwhip, plentiful quips and can jump from platform to platform like Lara Croft. In hindsight, The Emperor’s Tomb is a familiar Tomb Raider-like game, even if the platforming action is more awkward by virtue of its lacking camera and controls.
3. Prince of Persia
The first Prince of Persia game was released in 1989 for the Apple II. Over the next two decades, the Prince of Persia games took action-adventure platforming to fantastical settings inspired by Western perspectives of ancient Persia and readings of One Thousand and One Nights. Prince of Persia was for a long time the place to go for historical Tomb Raider alternatives. After all, it did help inspire Tomb Raider in the first place.
One of the most accessible Prince of Persia games is the open-world 2008 entry, though the Sands of Time (2003) became the series’ greatest commercial success. It introduced a mechanic which enabled the player to rewind time in order to complete puzzles.
A 2010 film of the same name became the highest grossing video game film at that time, overtaking the 2001 film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. The series was succeeded by the Assassin’s Creed franchise, but a remake of the 2003 game was announced in 2020.
4. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
While you were busy throwing Lara Croft from platform to platform in ancient Egyptian temples, the Assassin’s Creed franchise became one of the biggest game series in the world. Swathes of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s open world are there simply to be ridden across on horseback, but its cities and cavernous spaces retain the satisfying climbing that made the first Assassin’s Creed so memorable.
There’s plenty of tombs to pry open in Valhalla’s early medieval world. In November 2021, Ubisoft improved the game’s tomb offering with the Tombs of the Fallen content expansion. In the game’s fiction, these depict the final resting places of legendary warriors of ancient Britain. There’s Boudicca’s Tomb, located within a chamber of puzzles in East Anglia, the historical military leader Cassivellaunus burrowed into Sciropscire soil, and a handful of others to discover.
5. Call of the Sea
Fold up your leotard and replace your weapons in the armoury, because Call of the Sea’s main character Norah has no need for them. Instead, Call of the Sea is a first-person adventure game that tells the story of a woman on the trail of her missing husband’s expedition.
Set in the 1930s, it builds on a pulp fiction impression of the South Pacific as a site of mystery and mild peril. During its short runtime, you’ll solve puzzles and fiddle with mechanical contraptions. You’ll also explore a brightly sketched island, strewn with clues left by the previous expedition. The coherent story draws a little from Lovecraft and shares the premise of a fictional island with the 2013 Tomb Raider game.
6. Strange Brigade
Strange Brigade doubles down on the pulpy aesthetics of Call of the Sea, taking the form of a co-operative action game set in the ruins of ancient civilizations and the abandoned camps of antiquarian excavations. It’s the work of British developer Rebellion, also known for the Sniper Elite series and for its CEO Jason Kingsley’s medievalist hobbies.
Strange Brigade doesn’t subvert the genre’s emphasis on the occult or disguise the plundering of ancient sites, but leans into them. The game has players assume the roles of mainly British treasure hunters in the 1930s, shooting at reanimated corpses from ancient Egypt to a plummy voice-over.
It’s simplistic cartoon violence is broken up by puzzle solving. But unlike Tomb Raider, there’s no narrative that insists on its protagonists’ benevolence in spite of the bodies stacked beside the path behind them.