Thanks to retro styling, original gaming, and true nostalgia for the first Lara Croft adventures, the Square Enix Montreal studion has created its biggest success to date.
The GO series was launched with the Hitman franchise but reached its peak with Lara Croft’s exploits. In addition to a NUMIX Award, Lara Croft GO has won multiple prizes, including the iPhone Game of the Year and Apple Design Award, both handed out by the prestigious Cupertino-based company.
“We knew we had something good, but we had no idea we would hit a home run,” says Nicolas Verge, who is in charge of marketing and community content at Square Enix Montreal.
Created by Daniel Lutz, “a real designer in the broadest sense of the term,” the GO series consists of puzzles that players must overcome. As in all puzzles, players are faced with the challenge of resolving an enigma. What’s innovative about this gaming experience is that the challenge is never static. Every time you move your character, the various pieces on the board also move!
Once they’d created two games for the Hitman franchise, GO team members naturally turned to Lara Croft for their next venture. Since Tomb Raider was based on unveiling mysteries, Lara Croft seemed a good fit with the gaming experience provided by the GO series.
“One of the strengths of our studio is that each team can choose what it wants to work on,” says Nicolas. “The Lara Croft character allowed us to push the GO series even further. Previously, our titles were closer to table games with a board and moving pieces. But Lara Croft is an athlete: she moves, leaps, and fights. As a result, we changed our styling approach so as to create an environment that recalls her earlier adventures.”
Today’s players, aged 35 on average, know quite a bit about the history of digital entertainment, in which Lara Croft, created 20 years ago, occupies a special place. The team relied on nostalgia as a way of attracting players to their version of this iconic figure.
“Certain scenes from the earliest Lara Croft adventures made a lasting impact in the video game world,” states Nicolas. “We wanted to create moments that truly belonged to a Lara Croft adventure. We redesigned the costumes from that earlier era and asked players which they would most like to see. They appreciated the respect we showed for this material.”
Today, the GO series is at a crossroads in its development. The video game industry being what it is, many members of the original team have migrated to other teams and studios, including Daniel Lutz. Will Square Enix Montreal be able to repeat this feat? One thing is certain, they’re determined to succeed!