Baba Yaga: Tomb of the Witch has a lot resting on its shoulders being the first story-focused DLC to come to Rise of the Tomb Raider. We were given a small glimpse of the new content last December and it showed a lot of promise; it was something very different and bold for the adventures of Lara Croft. But how does it fare in comparison the base game? Is it scary?
**This review may contain spoilers**
Lost in time are the stories and myths brought to life - the witch of Siberia: Baba Yaga.
It all starts with Nadia, a local and descendent of the native people who lives in the mountains of Siberia. She is looking for her grandfather and has a hunch the old man may have wandered his way into the wicked vale - a place no locals dare to enter. You will be able speak to her at the Soviet installation after the story progresses a bit, she is found taking refuge in an old locker at the wood mill after being pursued by Trinity. She will explain to you that her grandpa is looking for Baba Yaga, a witch of the vale who took the life of his wife, something that has haunted him ever since. You are presented with the choice to help Nadia or not, assuming that you spent money on this DLC you would probably choose in the affirmative.
The goal is to locate Ivan, Nadia's grandpa within the wicked vale. She warns Lara of Baba Yaga as she has been known to control and kill her victims with supernatural powers. But even though Lara is no stranger to the supernatural or the unexplained, she remains skeptical about this witch of the vale. Lara takes heed of the warning and ventures off.
The DLC opens up smooth enough; small interactions with the main characters and a quick explanation of the situation were easy enough to understand and very quick to get into. Your first objective was to locate and enter the wicked vale; an easy enough task. It is located in a small cave near the back of the installation and is accessible once Lara has the rope arrow. On entering the area (skipping the challenge tomb in between) you reach the vale, a very different location filled with green trees and thick brush that can be difficult to navigate. Lara quickly notices that something is wrong as her vision begins to blur and her surroundings change into a darker variant of the forest she was in, slowly being consumed. A very creepy vibe is picked up as the music instantly changes.
Because we here at Scared-to-play enjoy the things outside of the natural comfort zone, this was a great start for the new content. We got a great creepy tone (Check) and an amazing and new atmosphere (Check), surrounding a great story that has been shared through generations of the people who built them off the memories of those who lived long ago (Double check).
Unfortunately, the content - in the long run - skipped out on a lot of potential. There was a lot of space to create something very unique for Tomb Raider but it fell short when it came to the general end plot. In terms of scariness, there was nothing special or outstanding besides the one-off jump scare, though that in and of itself was not enough to make me want more, but rather expect a lot better. The developers noted that the DLC would last around 3 hours, but was rather unclear if that included the challenge tombs and the usual collectable scavenger hunt. All in all however, I was only able to squeeze around 75 minutes of actual gameplay – a disappointing note - before returning to the main plot.
Staying true to the newly revived Tomb Raider games, the challenge tombs were well thought-out and creative, making the time invested into doing them well worth it. The new locations were breathtaking and full of gorgeous detail, both in terms of creepiness and of natural beauty. The rewards that follow the completion of the DLC are great add-ons and will create new ways to fight enemies. The end-game boss fight was like any other arcade shooter, with repetitive tasks between segments that increases in difficulty as more objectives are completed. It felt climactic enough but was, at the same time, confusing to navigate through the levels as there were no clear indicators on which direction to go and the objectives can be completed pre-emptively (maybe just me).
Baba Yaga: The Temple of the Witch had mediocre writing. It felt too short and missed out on a lot of quality content that was the rich lore and legend of Baba Yaga. The new enemies were in basic terms re-skins of the ones you had already encountered. This meant that there was absolutely nothing new about them. The plot and twist both revealed themselves (to me) rather early on and, most importantly, it was not scary.
Rise of the Tomb Raider deserved so much more but was left short with this DLC. Do I recommend it? Yes, I'd say pick it up for the sake of owning it and do it for the great challenge tombs and the new bow and outfit. BUT I would also recommend waiting for a sale...
**This review was done on a PC Gaming platform with the initial game fully updated to the latest release with all DLCs. All screenshots were captured and edited by myself. All aspects of this review is a personal opinion and is not meant to be an official statement from scaredtoplay.com.**
PC Rig :
Asus Maximus Hero IV Motherboard / Intel Core i7 4770K - OC to 4.2ghz / G.Skill : Ripjaws 16GB 1600mhz / Asus GTX970 : STRIX 4GB / 750W Seasonic MI2(II) EVO PSU / (x2) Samsung 850EVO 250GB SSD - RAID 0 Config + 4TB Western Digital Green HDD