With Rise of the Tomb Raider pulling up behind only The Witcher 3 in my favorite games of 2015 list, this story driven DLC inspired by the story of Baba Yaga couldn’t get here fast enough. Time to extend the season of the witch!
Working within the confines of Rise of the Tomb Raider, the DLC initiates like the rest of the minor missions when Lara comes across it in one of the main hub sections of the map. After taking out some soldiers playing hide and seek with their target, Lara is asked to help hunt down the girl’s grandfather who has run off to seek revenge on the witch who killed his wife so many years ago.
I had already finished the game in the save file I was using to extend the story, so I am uncertain if this mission can be initiated during the main runthrough of the game. It would definitely be an interesting tangent to go off on while trying to hunt down immortality, that’s for sure, and though it does extend some details as far as world building is concerned, the two stories are handled as separate entities really. Just know that when you finish the DLC you get a pretty cool bow that adds a handy adaptation to your smoke arrows, which would’ve been nice to have during the main campaign, instead of getting the gift when there is no more game for you to play. So the awkward departure within the campaign is probably more than worth it when considering the reward.
But enough about the DLC within the already established location. On its own Baba Yaga: The Temple of the Witch is a fun two hour (closer to three hours with the inclusion of post story achievement hunting) jaunt through the forest in search of a mysterious witch who draws her roots from Slavic folklore (thanks wikipedia!). Along the way you will find documents and the like, as you did during the main game, that help flesh out the story with details you won’t come across anywhere else, and if you have a knack for hunting these down you will understand what is really going on long before Lara does.
The gameplay does not vary from what you are already used to in terms of combat and puzzle solving, though the world and what you are fighting definitely changes thanks to the witch. Creatures and bad guys will take on a haunting, supernatural appearance, thanks in large part to how the witch has come to use the environment to strike fear into the hearts of those who seek her out. Those who have played the Arkham series will be pretty comfortable with this thanks to the numerous encounters with Scarecrow; for everyone else just know that you can never trust what you’re seeing, though you can trust that it can still hurt you.
It is hard to believe that in all the overheard conversations between soldiers in Rise of the Tomb Raider I never once heard mention of a giant house walking on the legs of chickens. Oh well, I will still gladly accept Baba Yaga as part of the mythology of this world. And though the path to Baba Yaga isn’t as fraught with combat and puzzles as one may hope, it is still a fun story. If only it were longer.