Image via Paramount Pictures

Every Tomb Raider game, ranked from worst to best

There are games out there you didn't know you needed to play.

Lara Croft has been a gaming icon ever since she first graced our screens in the original Tomb Raider. Since then, the franchise has had its ups and downs, but it’s remained fairly consistent throughout. Whether it’s offering pulse-pounding adventures, puzzle solving, or just a chance to hang out with your favorite adventuring archaeologist, the Tomb Raider series has produced countless gems. This article ranks every game from worst to best, so you can tackle Croft’s adventures from the lowest lows to the best they’ve ever been.

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Related: Every Tomb Raider game in release order

Every Tomb Raider game, from worst to best

In this list, we’ve gone through every Tomb Raider game and ranked them from the worst to the best. We’ve included every Tomb Raider game that’s ever released. While we haven’t been able to play all of them ourselves, we’ve used reviews where required to help inform our ranking.

24) Tomb Raider: Puzzle Paradox

tomb-raider-puzzle-paradox
Screenshot via FenderXT

Tomb Raider: Puzzle Paradox is a Tomb Raider for mobile devices, but it’s not really a Tomb Raider game. It’s a puzzle game that uses Lara Croft and the Tomb Raider name to draw you in. While the puzzles are history-themed, you’d be hard-pressed to make this fit with the wider series. Still, if you love puzzles and retro mobile games, this could be right up your alley.

23) Lara Croft: Reflections

lara-croft-reflections
Image via Tomb Raider Empire’s YouTube channel

Tomb Raider mobile games have never been good, but this is the worst of the lot. While early mobile games saw you controlling Lara Croft as she shot enemies, climbed walls, and solved puzzles, this entry is a series of reasons to tap on the screen of your iPhone and not much else. At its core, this is a collectible card battle game with story segments told through subtitles and not much that’s worth playing all the way to the end.

22) Tomb Raider: The Action Adventure

tomb-raider-the-action-adventure
Screenshot via Roli’s Tomb Raider YouTube channel

Tomb Raider: The Action Adventure was released alongside Angel of Darkness in order to promote it to those who didn’t play games at the time. It follows a simplified version of the story, and all controls are limited to the D-pad on a controller for a DVD player. You’d select a direction to choose an option and see a scene play out. It’s a pretty great option for those who don’t want to play the game with a controller, though not something series fans were likely looking for. Ultimately, this is a terrible Tomb Raider game based on one of the worst entries in the series. The concept is quite fun though.

21) Tomb Raider Reloaded

Image via CDE Entertainment

Tomb Raider Reloaded is a good game at heart, but it’s marred by free-to-play monetization. The early stages shower you with progression and make you feel like you’re mastering everything it can throw at you before bringing you down to Earth to ask for money to move on. The gameplay is fine, requiring you to move forward, fight enemies, and earn points, but it’s nothing special. Some of the entries on this list are only getting rarer by the day, but even at their highest prices, you’ll spend less than you would on this smartphone title. We recommend watching a YouTube playthrough instead of playing.

20) Tomb Raider: Apocalypse Episodes 1-3 and The Temple of Anubis

Tomb Raider Apocalypse
Screenshot via World of Tomb Raider’s YouTube channel

There is very little information on the Tomb Raider: Apocalypse series out there. However, we remember it being available on Sky as part of a paid service many years ago. Users could press the red button and play through three separate episodes of the Apocalypse series on their TV. At the time, any new Tomb Raider content was gold, so it was great to play even though the games themselves are rather lackluster experiences comprised of ten levels with a few spike traps and enemies. The fourth entry in the series became a standalone title called Tomb Raider: The Temple of Anubis, but was much the same. These games were very much a cash grab and likely generated some decent revenue for the developer since the games were readily available through a major TV provider.

19) Tomb Raider: The Osiris Codex, Quest for Cinnabar, and Elixer of Life

tomb-raider-the-osiris-codex
Screenshot via MP’s YouTube channel

With the rise of mobile gaming, nothing was off the cards. Tomb Raider: The Osiris Codex is a 2D side-scrolling game with puzzles, climbing, and shooting in the traditional Tomb Raider style. It’s not a great game by the standards the rest of the series has set, but it was an entry you could play on your mobile before the days of smartphones. As with many of these titles, it’s impossible to play today because the website has been taken down and the digital source code has vanished with it.

Tomb Raider: Quest for Cinnabar was the second mobile entry in the series. Visually, it was almost exactly the same as The Osiris Codex. The gameplay was pretty much the same too, though there was a new story that continued this spin-off series for fans that wanted more of Lara on the go.

tomb-raider-elixer-of-life
Screenshot via Core Design’s YouTube channel

Tomb Raider: Elixer of Life is the third and final entry in this series of mobile titles for Lara Croft. The visuals were changed for the worse, in our opinion, with Lara’s sprite looking blocky and out of proportion with her massive weapons. The gameplay appears to resemble that of the previous titles, but it seems as though this entry was made as a last-ditch effort to make some money out of the mobile market as better handheld consoles came along.

18) Tomb Raider: Angel Of Darkness

Image via Square Enix

Related: How many Tomb Raider games are there, in total?

Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness is probably one of the worst-rated games in the series. It was Lara’s first outing on PlayStation 2, but the visuals didn’t live up to what fans were seeing in games like Metal Gear Solid 2. It felt rushed, unpolished, and suffered with players and critics as a result. Everyone wanted this game to be good, but it just led to disappointment in what should have been a landmark release for Lara Croft.

17) Tomb Raider Chronicles

Image via Eidos

Spoilers for Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation. After the previous game attempted to kill Lara Croft, she was brought back because this franchise was just too profitable to take off the market. Anyone who plays this game can see that it was a way to buy the development team time to make Angel of Darkness. It tells a broken story through flashbacks and doesn’t really add anything to the franchise. Still, it’s impossible to have a comeback without a low like this.

16) Tomb Raider: Relic Run

tomb-raider-relic-run
Screenshot via Tomb Raider’s YouTube channel

The popularity of Temple Run for smartphones spawned an endless sea of rip-off games that took the core concept and changed up the visuals just enough to make it look like a new game. Tomb Raider: Relic Run was a bit more than a rip-off, but it did take the core ideas and present them in a Tomb Raider style. Players explored tombs, gathered treasure, rode on various vehicles, could get cursed, and even fought bosses as Lara Croft ran ever forward. It’s a lot of fun to look back on but, at the time, felt like an excuse to avoid putting out a real smartphone game for the series.

15) Tomb Raider III

Image via Eidos

Tomb Raider III was the first game in the series that fans didn’t enjoy as much as they’d had before. It was far more punishing, making Lara Croft drop after taking very little damage or looking at a spike pit the wrong way. Mistakes were made with assumptions on the developer’s part and wanting to push players further, making for a somewhat inaccessible experience.

14) Tomb Raider: Curse of the Sword

tomb-raider-and-the-curse-of-the-sword
Image via Wikipedia

Tomb Raider, Curse of the Sword is the sequel to the much better Tomb Raider: The Prophecy, and changes the style of Lara Croft’s handheld adventures to be much more in line with what you’d expect from a handheld device. In it, Lara is cursed after being hit by a sword and needs to hunt down members of a voodoo cult around the world to save herself and the world. Exploration and puzzle-solving are still front and center, but the game just doesn’t look like it belongs in the series.

13) Tomb Raider and the Guardian of Light

tomb-raider-and-the-guardian-of-light-puzzle
Image via Crystal Dynamics

With Tomb Raider and the Guardian of Light, Crystal Dynamics took a new approach. The game’s camera resembles that of an isometric adventure title, and players could work together in co-op or play alone with a bot while controlling Lara Croft and a mysterious guardian in a totally new style of game. The puzzles and epic storytelling is still here but mixed in challenges to complete, loot to collect, and a genuinely fun world to explore.

12) Tomb Raider and the Temple of Osiris

tomb-raider-and-the-temple-of-osiris
Image via Crystal Dynamics

With the success of Tomb Raider and the Guardian of Light, a sequel was easy to justify. Tomb Raider and the Temple of Osiris takes everything the previous game brought to the table and tightens it to make for a much more cohesive experience that makes the blend of classic Tomb Raider and arcade classics so much more enjoyable. Up to four people can jump into the game together, and it’s a blast to play, especially when everyone is racking up high scores and competing for the best loot.

11) Tomb Raider: The Prophecy

tomb-raider-the-prophecy
Screenshot via GameplayPS9’s YouTube channel

While not the first entry in the Tomb Raider series on a handheld device, Tomb Raider: Prophecy was the first to use an isometric camera. This allowed it to mimic the gameplay from mainline games in the series, creating a decent experience on a much less powerful device. This title followed the Tomb Raider formula very closely, with uzis for Lara to dual-wield, puzzles, climbing, and animals that nip at Lara’s heels until she bleeds out.

10) Tomb Raider II

Image via Eidos

Hot on the heels of the first game, Tomb Raider II is more of what you wanted from this series. Lara Croft is out in search of the Dagger of Xian, and her adventure does not disappoint. This is where the series really started to lean into the traditional adventure movie tropes of over-the-top villains and out-of-this-world end sequences that throw everything you’ve known out the window. Fans loved it, but they weren’t as fond of the same formula as it continued along the same line.

9) Tomb Raider: Anniversary

Image via Square Enix

Tomb Raider: Anniversary is a good game, it’s just not a great game. It takes place before the events of Tomb Raider: Legend and is another entry that takes that style and runs with it. There’s a lot to like about the title, with new systems that pushed players to their limits and interesting puzzles to solve. However, it’s not quite at the same level as the games that come below it.

8) Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation

tomb raider the last revelation (1)

Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation is fondly remembered because it’s a return to form for the franchise. Attempts at innovation had sent the series off on a new path that players weren’t fond of, but the development team brought it back to the core with this entry. Everything you love about Tomb Raider is here, and it felt even more epic because this was what seemed like the last entry in the series for a while at the time. Of course, there’s no way this series could end so early.

7) Tomb Raider: Underworld

Image via Crystal Dynamics

Tomb Raider: Underworld was the eighth game in the series and a real success on the PS3 and Xbox 360. This was a true next-gen Tomb Raider experience, and it hit on every level. The puzzles were solid, the story felt compelling, and the themes throughout the game gave it something that the franchise just hadn’t had before. There’s almost a level of gritty realism, but it still manages to retain the classic Tomb Raider style, avoiding getting too heavy.

6) Lara Croft Go

lara-croft-go
Screenshot via Tomb Raider’s YouTube channel

Lara Croft Go is one of the most unique Tomb Raider games out there. Based on the design of Hitman Go, the game is a turn-based affair where you need to guide Lara Croft through various levels. However, the entire game is framed as a tabletop board game, so each move has a reaction from the other characters on the stage. You need to predict movements, work around traps, and get the treasure before Lara is crushed, impaled, or worse. This game is available on loads of platforms and is very different from mainline Tomb Raider entries. It’s still one of the best games in the series though and holds its own against everything above it.

5) Tomb Raider: Legend

Image via Crystal Dynamics

Tomb Raider: Legend is a wild adventure that reimagines Lara Croft’s origins. It’s a story about finding Excalibur that’s surprisingly dark yet packed with some stunning set pieces. We love this game for a lot of reasons, but mostly because it was readily available on the PSP and still looked phenomenal for the time. Physics-based puzzles made the game engaging even during long play sessions, pushing your puzzle-solving skills at every turn. We don’t need to talk about the dreadful motorbike scenes between the main story beats though.

4) Tomb Raider (1996)

Image via Eidos

The original Tomb Raider game, which debuted on the PS1, may not be the best game in the series, but it’s certainly up there. This is the game that set the precedent for everything that came before. It had drama, climbing, puzzle solving, bears, bats, and so much more. Nothing like it had been seen on the market before, and it blew people’s minds. A lot of the core mechanics that would be built upon later are all here, making it a great game in so many ways.

tomb-raider-game-boy-color
Image via Wikipedia

Related: How to play the Tomb Raider games in timeline order

We’d also like to include the first version of the game to be ported to Game Boy Color alongside the original release. This series was a success because of the themes and engrossing gameplay mechanics presented across all platforms. It wouldn’t feel right to put the Game Boy Color entry anywhere else in this list because it succeeded alongside the PS1 version, not apart from it.

3) Rise of the Tomb Raider

Image via PlayStation

The second entry in the Tomb Raider reboot trilogy didn’t quite hit the mark with fans and critics. It’s more of the first title in this set, which is great, but it doesn’t do anything special to make it stand out. This is a story where we see Lara Croft grow in knowledge and strength, with a cautionary tale that teaches her a lesson about how she needs to behave in the future. There’s also an argument that Croft got too trigger-happy as she moved into this game after being so shy about firing a single round in her last adventure.

2) Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Image via Crystal Dynamics

Shadow of the Tomb Raider rounds out the reboot trilogy and is a stunning conclusion to the journey of this early version of Lara Croft. It shows the protagonist that she needs to catch herself and watch her actions because they have very real consequences that will hurt others if she’s not careful. This isn’t quite the best game in the trilogy, but it does do more than its predecessor to show players a good time and have fun with a new version of Lara.

1) Tomb Raider (2013)

Image via Square Enix

Tomb Raider (2013) was the first entry in the reboot trilogy for the franchise and set the bar incredibly high for the games that followed. We don’t believe anything has ever quite lived up to the spectacle that this game managed to craft in conjunction with a cohesive island space that you could explore more of as you advanced the story. This is the game that the most recent movie was based on and with good reason. It’s gritty, doesn’t hold back from hurting our beloved protagonist, and shows how the adventurer got her start and addiction to treasure hunting.


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Author
Jamie Moorcroft-Sharp
Jamie Moorcroft-Sharp is a Staff Writer at Gamepur. He's been writing about games for ten years and has been featured in Switch Player Magazine, Lock-On, and For Gamers Magazine. He's particularly keen on working out when he isn't playing games or writing or trying to be the best dad in the world.