You might have heard that Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is Indiana Jones-meets-Diablo: isometric Mayan dungeon crawling where hell's minions are swapped for giant spiders, spells traded for pistols and flamethrowers. But developer Crystal Dynamics is keen on downplaying any comparison between Diablo and Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light. I got to play it for myself in co-op with the game's creative director Daniel Neuburger, so here's my take.
"I wouldn't say that dungeon crawlers were our biggest influence," Neuburger told me during our alone-time with the co-op platformer at E3. "Even though it has the isometric camera - people look at it and go 'It's like Diablo!', right? - but it's not very much like Diablo. Really, my biggest inspiration for this were classic co-op adventures. The games I used to play with my sister when I was a kid. For me, it's just as much fun playing the game as it was bickering with your co-op partner. I played through Toejam & Earl so many times with my sister, and Bubble Bobble."
Our hands-on demo was full of opportunities for that kind of playful "co-opetition," a terrible buzzword that I hope to never write again. Playing as Totec, Lara's Mayan warrior chum, I was chased down a trap-choked alley by a walking, cave-dwelling enormo-fish. Three times, Neuburger had to stand Lara on a pressure plate to summon a bridge for my stumpy Totec to cross with. On the other side, I put my weight on an identical tile to hold the bridge down for him. Twice, we made it across safely, but on the third, I made the quick, selfish decision to leave him stranded. The boss creature gobbled Lara, Neuburger lost a few points, cursed me, and then respawned a few seconds later. That's an example of the opportunities for antagonizing your co-op partner that Crystal Dynamics are encouraging.
As a multiplatform title, Guardian of Light lends itself to gamepad controls, but it will support mouse and keyboard input on PC. Here are some annoyingly watermarked shots: