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  • Writer's pictureIndy Goodwin

GrimDark: Is this modern storytelling?

Updated: Apr 29

Settle down kiddos and let Grannie Indigo tell you a story. Back in the heady days of the late 90s/early 2000s the best video game franchise ever*

*Your mileage may vary

Was Tomb Raider. Lara Croft swung, jumped snd climbed her way through tombs and saved the world many, many times. It was a simpler time, stories followed a fairly simple arc. Someone asked Lara to avert a disaster, she travelled round the world to collect mcguffins, she put the mcguffins together in a special place and killed something big. World saved, Lara goes home to relax in her beautiful mansion by locking her long suffering butler in the fridge.

These were good days, and ones I sorely miss. I recently completed Shadow of the Tomb Raider and I have opinions about it.

Now, let me preface this rant by saying I do enjoy the modern Lara series to varying extents. Rise was the best instalment, fight me. There's one thing they all have in common though and that's the D A R K elements. Tomb Raider used to be a fun adventure game where Lara proved she was just as, if not more, capable than the male heroes at the time. There was very little angst, Lara had a job to do and did it with some witty one liners and characteristic grace. (I'm especially weak for that scene in Chronicles where she gives Lars that impossibly contemptuous smile in Venice but we all knew I was gay as hell for her anyway. What was my point again? Oh, right.)

Modern Lara has none of that joy and I really miss it. In TR1 you fought a GODDAMN T REX. In the modern series you just mow through mountains of Trinity soldiers. Where's the fun in that? Not to mention the angst.

Oh my god the angst. In Shadow it's revealed in Lara's attempt to keep powerful artifacts out of Trinity's hands she starts the apocalypse. The whole game involves some sort of guilt about doing it and it is quite frankly boring. Not to mention there's yet more angst about Daddy's death which I thought we'd dealt with in the last game. You have a desperate and depressed Lara in this game and my dudes, if I wanted to role-play as a depressed bitch I'd just stop taking my meds.


I just wish there wasn't this modern need to make stories deep by making them sad. I do not support, believe in or appreciate Stephen Moffat's comments that sadness is happiness for deep people. You can have stories that are layered with joy. The joy in adventure, the joy in discovery. The joy in feeling useful and doing good things. The joy in the strong friendship she has with Jonah. The joy of meeting and befriending all these wonderful, brave people who give you new perspectives on life. There could be so much joy to be found in Tomb Raider, so many moments Lara could stop and realise that she's doing something amazing and revel in it.

A perfect example of this is the film Jungle Cruise. Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt were perfection in this, the joy and excitement of adventure really shone through and I loved it. No guilt, no persistent angst, just 3 great characters having a jolly good time.

That's what I want, what I crave. The world is so full of darkness and anger as it is, why must all of our media reflect that? I want a happy ending with no strings attached, no giant body count, just joy and light. After 2020 don't we deserve that?

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