Tomb Raider and Rise of the Tomb Raider writer Rhianna Pratchett discusses the writing process of the Tomb Raider games, revealing that the 2013 reboot once had a darker ending.
The revived Tomb Raider franchise has earned a lot of praise, gaining plenty of acclaim in particular for an increased emphasis on story. This successful part of both Tomb Raider and Rise of the Tomb Raider certainly comes down to the work done by writer Rhianna Pratchett. Although Pratchett has now parted ways with the franchise, she recently talked about the storytelling process for both games, and revealed that the 2013 reboot could have had a much darker tone.
Speaking with Eurogamer, Pratchett talked about her experiences writing for the series, and shared some of the changes that needed to be made along the way. “Originally, when I’d written the first draft of the script, there wasn’t so much death in it,” stated Pratchett in the interview. “And then, gradually the deaths crept in, and it changed the feel of the narrative. It made more sense the players were feeling that way after they’d gone through various other deaths.”
At first, the game’s script had kept a tonal emphasis on sacrifice, but as the character deaths mounted, player feedback changed the focus. “There had been a lot of death up to that point. Part of that was the gameplay changes, where I had to keep going back and killing off characters,” Pratchett says. Playtesters felt that the Crystal Dynamics game had grown too downbeat, and “eleventh hour” changes were rung in.
This seems to have caused Pratchett a bit of regret. “It would have been good if we’d identified that problem earlier, and we probably could have finessed things a bit more. It wasn’t too late. We managed to fix it. But it didn’t fully deliver on some of the narrative themes we wanted to.” However, Rise of the Tomb Raider did provide a chance to make amends of sorts. “We folded them back into the second game,” said Pratchett of the original game’s missing themes.
Pratchett is one of the most high-profile and acclaimed external video game writers around, with credits including Mirror’s Edge and the Thief reboot. However, it’s with Tomb Raider that Pratchett has found a huge amount of acclaim, and with good reason too. After all, the 2013 title is still considered by many to be one of the best video game reboots ever.
To build on the success of the first two games, however, Crystal Dynamics will have to offer up a compelling narrative without the help of Pratchett. The third part of the series, which leaks suggest will be called Shadow of the Tomb Raider, will not have the writing talents of Pratchett on call. Hopefully, the title will still be able to deliver as quality a gaming experience as gamers have come to expect.