For those that have not played this DLC, do not read this review until you are done. This is filled with spoilers. It is in your better interest that I posted this spoiler warning.
When I began playing Blood Ties I could see it was far more developed than I could have imagined. Lara is ultimately fleshed out in this fantastic nostalgia based romp through Lara’s past.
But, don’t expect to find bad guys around every corner and monsters lurking in the shadows. This DLC is intended for us to learn more about our favorite heroic explorer. Believe me, it won’t disappoint even though it is an exploratory mission premise.
We are treated to the various notes that are categorized for your convenience from Lady Amelia, Winston, Lord Croft and dear old uncle Atlas. The bonus of these fabulous notes is you can hear their voices as they narrate each one. This was an ingenious addition, for it defines the characters in a BIG way. I would say Lara’s mother Amelia has more of a place in my mind than before. I enjoyed reading about her and actually seeing her bedroom and her atelier. Viewing her artwork in there and the grand piano was a special treat, as was the entire DLC. It was such an in-depth walk into her world and life.
Some art pieces Amelia painted in her atelier.
Lara’s mother Amelia was a successful artist. Her paintings were going to be featured in New York and across the U.S.A.
With each step Lara takes, the scene may take on a golden hue as you listen to her memories that surround a certain place in the manor. I so enjoyed this touch. You could feel her past screaming at you whilst their echoing voices found a place in your imagination.
This type of storytelling makes you perceive her as a small child and her interaction with items you see in each of the grand rooms of the Croft estate as well as enriching our vision of her relationship with her parents and Winston.
One of Lara’s memories of Winston while she is in the wine cellar expresses how he would play chess with her when a girl and she mentioned how he always won.
(Be sure to click the video clip button below many of the photos, and sometimes the photos are the link.)
Lara must search her home for evidence of her inheritance which is the manor her family home. Each clue reveals a bit more about her childhood and how close she and her father were. Lara comes across artifacts from her father’s previous expeditions. Many are tied to her childhood and bring up a lot of memories that we get to hear. The entire manor is furnished with historic pieces from around the globe. It is like a museum that showcases her father’s and soon to be her own adventures. I saw so many statuettes in display cases, on walls, counters, and shelves that I shall define in future articles. Each room is a goldmine filled with various documents and artifacts. Keep an eagle eye fixed on everything.
The artist and the archaeologist: A Tragic Love Story
I found it fascinating to read and hear through video clip her parent’s beautiful courtship. Also, you get to learn about the turbulent relationship Lord Croft had with Lara’s uncle Atlas. Atlas did not approve of him for his sister Amelia. It is through a series of collectible letters and journal entries Lara finds throughout the manor, designated from Atlas, Lord Croft and Amelia you learn more about the darkness nested within Atlas for revenge, as well as a desperately caring brother. The following clips are not in order. They are a collection of life moments between Lara’s parents and her uncle Atlas. There are also events you will find in the clips that lead to Amelia’s plane crash in the Himalayas. She was on her way to meet her husband in Tibet. This has echoes of the Legend’s events minus Lara on the plane. I really enjoyed it as it was brought to clear light in these little clips of enlightenment.
Video Clip Library
During her exploration, she must find a flashlight, master key, crowbar and a lighter etc.
Each one of these items allows her progression into other rooms. All of her journeys inevitably leads her to the Croft crypt located beneath the manor.
It is breathtaking the detail of the interior of the manor. You can appreciate how grand this residence really was and is. As Lara strolls through her home we see places that are broken and suffering water damage from falling rain through the roof, boarded up doors, including actual tree branches that have smashed through the windows. We are also treated to a view of an enormous tapestry displaying her family crest. The family crest is found on the numerous hearths, books and the crypt etc The architecture of the sprawling home betrays its centuries old. If walls could talk! Enjoy the following galleries.
Further Observances …
The many fine paintings on the walls and even rolled up Persian rugs express a lovely level of detail. There are busts of her family and apparently it is a tradition for the family members to have a bust made in their likeness. Lara expressed a sense of disdain over any bust of herself. The color, tone, sound effects and general appearance of the scenes within the manor create a perfectly dreary atmosphere. However, that is a good thing, for it fits into the emotional impact of this game. I remember hoping throughout my exploration the manor would not be taken out of the game. Lara even appears to deliberate over giving the manor to her uncle Atlas while she journeys through some of its dilapidated corridors, and comments: “The place is falling apart.”
Lara’s Heart Is mended …
Lara loved her mother and wondered about her as she grew older, for Amelia died when Lara was very young. Lara began to wonder how her mother felt, perhaps doubting her love. I suppose it is what one wrestles with when losing a parent at a tender age. You tend to forget what they sounded like, or even looked like if not reminded through photos etc. It was a letter Lara finds telling her everything which allowed her to understand. It brought tears to her eyes, and mine, as the letter was read. That letter follows.
A Backstory brought together …
Yes, we have heard about Lara’s aristocratic background, and we could imagine to a point what it must have been like. However, we never really got to know her parents and hear about their courtship. This game shall put us in touch with every aspect of it. This concept works well to bridge the gap between the past games and the present. They have tied a lot to the original character (classic Lara) there have been hints about future exploration in regards to the jade dragon from Tomb Raider II. There is a reference to her mother getting killed in a Himalayan plane crash. There is Winston and his story about Lara and locking him in the freezer when she was a little girl along with much more about his relationship with Lara. It is quite deep in the ties that bind. The following Easter eggs will bring that to the surface. I saw more than these, you can find those in the game as well as the rest of the video clips, and I may add all of them at another time. For now, these grand ones shall do.
Nostalgia Called Easter Eggs
In the library, there is an old gramophone that Lara can activate. When she does, it plays one of my favorite pieces from Tomb Raider II.
Venice Violins by composer Nathan McCree. This is a fantastically nostalgic piece for the franchise, and I am thrilled it was kept and used to illustrate her past. It brought a tear to my eyes when I heard it!
The next little bombshell is an Egyptian Hieroglyphics Book seen below.
This book illustrates Lara’s intense interest in ancient Egypt and is a great retrospect into her future explorations. Not to mention the origin of her name gives a subtle nod to the ancient Egyptian god RA. LaRA. How cool is that? There is a video clip where her father explains this.
LARA’S NAME ORIGIN CLIP BELOW
The nostalgia that rides on the back of this little green friend is from Tomb Raider II and the Temple of Xian! Tomb Raider II is one of my most favorite games from the franchise.
I would say that this Egyptian Ankh represents the Ankh of Isis key type relic from the Obelisk of Khamoon level of the first Tomb Raider game.
Seeing this prank return was a truly “Laugh out loud” moment for me! I remember this stunt by clever Lara. You should have seen the smile and literal burst of laughter that came from me whilst reading and listening to the video clip. My family was like, “What?” LOL! Memories …
As I played through Blood Ties, I was taken away with the smoothness of the graphics, the tones, and details of everything. The way the light played against the furniture, the flashes of lighting against walls, floors and Lara herself. The way you get to look through the windows into the world outside the walls of the manor, which served as an even bigger reality anchor. The real feel of every aspect. This was the most comprehensive version I have ever played. It did what every game or great story should do. It left me wanting more, and it left me feeling I know these characters on a deeper level. It left me happy!
I was quite impressed by this fantastic DLC. As far as I am concerned, they hit it out of the ballpark with this one. Bravo!
I shall return! Enjoy the 20th-anniversary content!
With that I shall end with the manor. This is the answer and we can dream on through the halls of this grand estate. Dream on and know it shall remain to tease our vision into heights of future adventures. …
Click on the image to play the video clip
Explore the World!
I received a review copy of the game compliments of Crystal Dynamics to write a fair and honest review.
I played the main campaign through Syria in order to unlock the newest manor DLC “Blood Ties”