Many jokes have been made about how the Tomb Raider reboot saw a naive Lara Croft turned into a hardened killer within minutes. Her ability to dissociate from murder became legendary. Having played the first few hours of Rise of the Tomb Raider, however, it became slightly more worrying.
Laras now playing the part far too well - you only need to watch the gruesome Gamescom demo to understand the lengths shell go to to rid her path of fleshy obstacles. Just as a precaution, I got my hands on a checklist of early warning signs for serial killers. The results are troubling.
70% of serial killers have suffered at least one traumatic head injury early in life. Son of Sam had a rock dropped on his head from a building. Fred West fell off of a motorcycle. John Wayne Gacy got hit by a swing. And the Tomb Raider reboot was essentially Bodily Trauma: The Game - something the sequel isnt changing, going by the fact that Laras hit in the face by an avalanche within the first 15 minutes.
Her lower frontal cortex is likely scarred as a result, causing her trouble with summoning up emotional and social connections with others. Remember how she wept over a freshly-made deer carcass but, mere hours later, she was expressing grunts of primal satisfaction at firing high-velocity sticks through peoples heads? What happened in between? Roughly 400 separate brain injuries. Bingo.
Growing up isolated
Excessive time alone allows a potential killer the opportunity to develop their fantasies in a way that cannot be contradicted. Jeffrey Dahmer lived on a literal house on the hill, rarely saw other children, and invented Infinity Land, a game where he imagined sticks as people falling into an endless void, forever.
Given that we know something happened to her father (shes listening to his memo tapes and lamenting his loss in the new games tutorial tomb) and her mother just isnt mentioned (we wont even get into serial killer mummy-hate), my guess is that Lara spent much of her childhood knocking about a dank Sussex mansion, alone, imagining shooting tigers in temples.
Turns out, if youre on your way to being a serial killer, you just dont like people. Considering Laras first response to being shipwrecked and finding survivors is to send them away so she can get on with killing literally everyone and everything else on the island, Id say she fits the profile.
Rise of the Tomb Raider doesnt change her behaviour too much. In a moment of heroism, she tells her stranded buddy climber, Jonah, to turn back and leave her to find a way off of the Siberian death-mountain shes been clambering over. She fails to take into account that this might not be what he wants, considering that, at that moment, he is clinging onto a vertical sheet of ice in a thunderstorm, with an avalanche approaching. Oh well!
Fire is unrestrained chaos, a physical reflection of an unhinged mind. Many killers start their lives obsessed with watching things burn - some suggest that David Berkowitz was responsible for as many as 1,400 fires in New York, many of them when he was still a child.
Lara loves burning things. She improvises how to make fire arrows, she throws oil lanterns at unsuspecting mens backs and watches them writhe - in the latest trailer for the new game, we see her grappling into a burning building. Somethings going on.
The Unabomber, Ed Kemper, Ted Bundy - these were people with (most likely scarred) brains to spare. Apart from anything else, if youre going to get away with committing multiple murders, you need to be able to work out how youre going to stop yourself going to jail (or, in Bundys case, how to escape from jail by making like some gross lizard-man through the air ducts).
Laras intellect gets no better showing than in Rise of the Tomb Raider, where she can up her proficiency in Ancient Greek, Russian and Mongolian just by looking at each language on a wall. Puzzle mechanic or tacit hint that were dealing with a human monster? Im going with both.
Despite their typically high IQs, most serial killers cant hold down a job. Driven to distraction by their dark fantasies, a regular, day-to-day routine can seem like its getting in the way of their true purpose, even if they havent worked out what that is yet.
According to the Tomb Raider wiki, the reboots Lara held multiple jobs while at university (where Im guessing she studied Practical Anatomy, or Criminal Zoology, or Guns). While some might suggest that was to pay for tuition fees, Im guessing she just kept turning up late to her shifts at H&M covered in blood.
Low resting heart rate
A strange one, this - studies have linked a slow heartbeat to violent criminal behaviour. It makes people restless, on the search for something to increase their pulse. This might be hard to prove with Lara Croft, but I bring supplementary evidence.
The worlds best snipers are trained to fire their rifles between heartbeats, to reduce inaccuracy. Lara has unerringly good aim, even as a total gunplay greenhorn - her proficiency with almost any weapon is unsettling. My guess? Laras heartbeat is slower than a busted metronome, making her both prodigiously accurate, and compulsively vicious.
Violence to animals
Perhaps the best-known warning sign, animals are practice for 99% of serial killers. Not only do we see Laras first, deer-shaped kill, but the game actively encourages you to use the opening woodland section of the Tomb Raider reboot as target practice for your new bow. But Lara goes further.
Ed Gein, famous for turning his victims into macabre house decorations, learned how to do so by working on a farm that turned its cows into leather. In the new game, Lara has more options than ever for repurposing her kills as weapons, or fetching skin-based bags. If her eyes linger too long on a human corpse, well know things have gotten bad.
Killing hundreds and hundreds of people
This is a big one that I sort of forgot about.