As part of its 25th anniversary celebrations for Tomb Raider, Square Enix has published three new videos featuring an array of details from the cancelled survival horror game Tomb Raider: Ascension.
As shown on YouTube, the three videos focus on different elements of what could have been for Ascension, had the game not been replaced by the franchise's preferred 2013 reboot. In the first clip, the publisher shows off a range of concept art for the game where fans can see its island setting as well as a number of characters designs.
"After narrowing in on the concept of a survival story on a remote island," says Square Enix in the video's description on YouTube. "Crystal began developing what was internally called Tomb Raider: Ascension. At one point, Ascension felt closer to a horror game than a Tomb Raider title. Eventually, the concept evolved into the origin story told in the 2013 reboot, keeping the key survival components with a dash of supernatural terror."
The second of the three videos shown by Square seems to highlight this well. Showing off early footage, Ascension looks as if it would have leaned further into the horror genre, as Lara can be seen making her way through a number of darker poorly lit areas and battling against a range of twisted monsters.
Across the seven-minute video, fans are treated to a reasonably substantial amount of content – with scenes also showing Lara traversing the island's environment on horseback and what looks to be a pretty intense moonlit boss battle. According to the publisher, it was during its work on Ascension that the team then "homed in on telling an origin story through the lens of survival," and some of those horror elements were seemingly pushed aside.
The final video published to YouTube features some early logo concepts for Ascension and a number of designs for its box art. While these are interesting to look through, the main highlight of the clip is the inclusion of some early voiceover work that the publisher says was recorded to " capture the tone" for Lara's difficult journey ahead. The narration in the clip does well to set up the reboot's take on Croft, distinguishing her from iterations of the character seen previously in the series.
"You think you know me," says Lara in the video. "Think you've seen me before. The Brit princess, rich girl with a pretty face, shiny guns, and a flair for gymnastics. I think you've got me mixed up with someone else."
"I'm not perfect. I'm not bulletproof. I struggle. I bleed. I get cold. I get lost. I have doubts. I know pain. I know fear. One day, I will become a legend. A warrior. A hero. A raider. But first, I will be a survivor. Still think you know me? Think again."
Across the range of footage shown off, it's not hard to see how Ascension eventually transitioned into becoming the publisher's 2013 reboot. While many of the original ideas shown never quite made it to see the light of day, the clips seem to have gone down well with the Tomb Raider community. Across the videos' comment sections, a number of fans have praised the idea of a horror-led Tomb Raider title with some even asking that Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics consider making the game now.
For more on Lara and the series, make sure to check out this article detailing the latest from Tomb Raider: Reloaded, an upcoming mobile game based on the franchise and set to launch next year. The latest trailer for that game can also be seen below, so be sure to give that a watch too.
Jared Moore is a freelance writer for IGN who remembers playing early entries in the Tomb Raider series alongside his parents as a child. You can follow him on Twitter.