Shadow of the Tomb Raider The Official Art Bookby Adam Dileva
It’s that time of year; when the biggest games of the year are releasing and many tie-ins are accompanying them. One of my favorite companions to my favorite games is the traditional Art Book. These showcase concept art and give you an in-depth look behind the scenes as to what, how, and why, decisions were made One of my biggest titles I was looking forward to this year was Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Our reviewer also quite enjoyed it, and you can read their impressions HERE should you wish.
I always really appreciate the visuals in my favorite games. Not just the graphics, 4K or 60fps, but the tonality and lighting of the scenery and backdrops. This is probably why I always gravitate towards official Art Books to some of my favorites. Thankfully, Titan Books has worked with Square Enix to bring us Shadow of the Tomb Raider The Official Artbook. At almost 200 pages, you’ll be treated to handfuls of concept art and explanations as to why they chose what they did, and why.
Before delving into the chapters themselves, fair warning, there are some massive spoilers included within the pages, and will give away nearly all important narrative plot points if you have not completed the game beforehand. While this art book was received for review, it won’t be assigned a traditional score, but instead, we will try and describe much of what you’ll come across in the nearly 200 pages of beautiful artwork and design.
The first chapter is Characters, and here is where you’ll get a little bit of insight into the design process to some of the main characters; not just the titular Lara Croft of course, but even Jonah, Unuratu, Trinity, citizens and more. There’s even a few pages dedicated to Lara’s equipment, which has some fascinating facts. For instance, I didn’t realize her knife has that orange streak in it to tie it to the cabin of the plane. Small facts like this are littered throughout and something I found fascinating, as you know there were countless meetings about the smallest details like this.
The Artifacts’ chapter is where some depth is gone into the notable Box of Ix Chel and Key of Chak Chel, both of which have massive narrative plot points throughout the game. I really appreciated seeing the design process and iterations of the Box of Ix Chel, going from a standard box-like item to what it was represented in the final game.
The Location chapter has to be my favorite across all pages though. Here you’ll see nearly all the game’s stages present, from the Croft Manor, Maya Ruins, Temples, The Flood, Volcanic Eruption, and my favorite part of the whole game, The Oil Refinery. Simply posting a few pictures, I’m sure most would be happy, but you get a sneak peek behind the curtains as to how much deliberate thought went into the smallest details. Here you’ll read a lot about the lighting, and how tonality was playing a large part into the color schemes. It’s all fascinating if you really think about how much work went into all of these details.
There are dozens and dozens of amazing concept art to witness within, but I found the small quips and explanations behind each one the most interesting thing inside the book. While I would have liked to see more preliminary sketches, storyboards and iterations, it’s still a beauty to flip across the pages, admiring the artwork from numerous artists. Obviously, in a product like this it really needs to be seen to be experienced in its fullest, but I gladly showcase it in my gaming artbook collection and would have no problem letting others check it out when they came over to visit and was asking about the game itself.
Titan Books always hits it out of the park with their Art Books. They are great companion pieces for fans of a particular game, in this case, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and they don’t specifically just cater to the hardcore gamer only, as even non-gamer fans can flip through the pages and enjoy seeing some beautiful concept artwork. With an MSRP of $39.99 USD ($53.95 CAD), it’s a premium glossy art book that’s reasonable for the asking price, giving you an in depth look behind the scenes to one of the most iconic women in video game history, or even if you're simply looking for a unique gift to give to a fan.
Published: 14 September 2018 (US)
Dimension: 11.88" x 9.00" (US)
Writers: Paul Davies, Martin Dubeau
All images ©Square Enix