Author Topic: Tomb Raider: The First Mission VS Indiana Jones Movies Puzzle Solving Mechanics  (Read 510 times)


    • Mandle worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    • Mandle worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!

Yeah, I watched the latest Tomb Raider movie along with the original Raiders movie today and noticed something very interesting, for me at least:


I had a great time with the new Tomb Raider movie: It totally felt like the games and you could really tell when Lara was going through a tutorial level at the start (the boxing-ring intro and the bicycle delivery fox-hunt race)...Although she seems to use what she learned from the boxing tute much more often than what she learned from the cycling tute...

I also liked the new spin of eliminating the expected supernatural elements and replacing them with real-world reasons and motivations...

But, that aside, for the adventure gamer within me this is why I really wanted to say something about these different movie series:

The major thing I noticed, after watching both movies, was the streamlining of puzzles in the new Tomb Raider vs the way puzzles were handled in the Indiana Jones movies:

In the Indy movies the movie makers really make sure that the audience understands exactly how every single puzzle is solved:

In Raiders: You see the exact step-by-step process Indy goes through to find the location of the Well Of Souls...

And you understand why the Nazis fail because of lack of information.

A better example is actually in The Last Crusade concerning the Grail Diary entries about solving the 3 challenges once approaching the final chamber of the Grail.

This is something they mirrored in the new Tomb Raider movie and, well...

In the new Tomb Raider we have an almost identical conceit in that the main character is following the journal of their parent and using it to figure out how to solve the puzzles in the tomb.

But, here's where I felt a big disconnect between classic (Indy) storytelling and modern (New Tomb Raider) storytelling styles:

Lara solves the puzzles by using her father's journal but we (or at least I) never actually see the page entry or the particular reasoning behind her solutions. The audience just has to kind of trust that Lara has read that shit and knows what she is doing.

She just climbs up the vault door and turns the wheels in a way that is a lot like what she did with the karakuri puzzle tube she opened earlier, but we, the audience either have to pause the video about a hundred times to understand how the symbols link up (I guess they do) or just trust Lara that she knows her shit.

It's a lot like the difference in adventure games where the player must either write down the combination lock number to manually input later or the game just assumes the character has remembered it and then you can open the lock by just clicking on it.

I'm not really sure which way is better for everyone but, for me, I prefer the Indy movies where I can understand the puzzles and how they were solved instead of just trusting in the character's ability to solve them.

This post of mine may be a very wise insight on post-storytelling-storytelling or some such rubbish or it might just be actual rubbish...

What do you think about these two approaches to characters dealing with puzzles in movies and, more importantly, in games?

Interesting observation.
Both Indy and Lara class as action/adventure but I guess they are on different parts of the spectrum. Indy tends more towards the adventure, whereas Lara, especially this new one seems more about the action. I don’t think they’re too far apart though.

I would say the action-adventure spectrum looks something like this:

Die Hard - little or no puzzle solving. Lots of violence.
Tomb Raider - some puzzle solving. Details brushed over. Lots of violence.
Indiana Jones - some puzzle solving. Details shown/explained. Some cartoon violence.
DaVinci Code - it’s got ‘Code’ in the title. A bit of fisticuffs.


    • Mandle worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    • Mandle worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Die Hard - little or no puzzle solving. Lots of violence.

Maybe watch it again. LOTS of puzzle solving! In fact, this was the action movie that made me start watching action movies again when I had given up on them back in the 80s as being brainless!

Spoiler: ShowHide
Watch how McClane figures out exactly what situation he is in, the individual names of his enemies, and their plan to blow up the roof. All this and more plays out pretty much like an adventure game!

And Die Hard 3 is perfectly an adventure game plot-point for game-mechanic each is solved by.

Maybe "Rambo 2" is a better example? That's the one that stopped me from watching action movies back then until I was forced to watch Die Hard and loved it!
« Last Edit: 29 Jul 2018, 17:31 by Mandle »


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    • Babar worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    • Babar worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Die Hard - little or no puzzle solving. Lots of violence.
Reminded me of this: A Narrative Approach to Level Design (that uses Die Hard as an example)
You'll have to skip around a bit, but essentially she talks about how unlike the games based on the movie, in the actual movie, McClane more uses his gun more like a puzzle solving tool- to break open doors, uses it to block a fan, uses it to rappel down an elevator shaft, etc. :cheesy:
The ultimate Professional Amateur

Now, with his very own game: Alien Time Zone

Ahh yeah, you guys are right. I think I just jumped on Die Hard because that’s what everyone always jumps on as the quintessential action movie. I still think it still belongs there in relation to the other examples I used, though. The puzzles it has are much more urgent. And like you say, it often means McClane using his firearm as a key.