In the recently released Croft Manor DLC, “Blood Ties”, Tomb Raider fans get the chance to take some time out from pillaging ancient sites to delve deep into Croft family history and learn more about Lara Croft’s enigmatic parents and childhood, one aging document at a time.
When Lara’s maternal uncle Atlas de Mornay contests the ownership of Croft Manor, she’s left with no choice but to search the derelict manor for a copy of her father’s last will and testament to validate her claim to the Croft estate. In doing so, Lara is forced to confront her troubled past and come to terms with the mysterious deaths of her parents.
Blood Ties is a welcome change of pace from the game proper. It is completely combat-free and, like the Croft Manors of old, it offers ample opportunity to explore the manor’s many rooms and uncover the secrets that lie within.
Only certain documents and items are required to push the story along but it was impossible to resist collecting every relic and reading every document I could lay my hands on. Through these, we learn more about Lara’s childhood, her relationship with her parents before (and after) her mother’s untimely death, Richard Croft’s growing obsession with immortality myths, and, perhaps more importantly, the type of person Amelia Croft was.
Up until the release of Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration, Amelia Croft felt little more than a plot device, a non-character who barely got a mention in the 2013 reboot and the comic series that followed it. But Blood Ties makes up for this by finally giving her a voice (literally) and a more fleshed-out backstory, one that shares certain elements with “Classic” Lara Croft. I’ll refrain from spoiling the ending but Amelia’s final message is an emotional and heart-felt one that may leave some with a lump in their throats. Keep some tissues handy.
Long-time fans of the franchise will also be thrilled to learn that the DLC is jam-packed with subtle references to the Core Design games. I’ll be compiling a list of these in the not-too-distant future. My favourite “Easter egg” was this particular relic, a nod to my all-time favourite Tomb Raider game, though I have to admit I had a good chuckle at something I read in one of Winston’s letters.
And, of course, there was also this…
In short, Blood Ties is a delightful, engrossing trip down memory lane and a poignant reminder that history isn’t just something we can read in books, glean from monuments, or see on display in museums. It’s also those things that shape our lives and make us who we are: our families, our roots, our legacies.
Kudos to Narrative Designer John Stafford, Franchise Creative Director Noah Hughes, and everyone else who was involved in bringing Blood Ties to life!
PS4 gamers can access the Blood Ties DLC and its companion DLC, Lara’s Nightmare, from the main menu after completing Syria. The DLC will also be free to Xbox One and PC season pass holders, while those without a season pass will have the option to purchase this DLC for around $10.
And if you’d like to learn more about the DLC’s VR component, check out this review by IGN.
Disclaimer: Crystal Dynamics provided this fan site with a complimentary copy of the game for reviewing purposes. The above is an honest, unbiased review of the “Blood Ties” DLC that was bundled with the PS4 release of Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration.