Rise of the Tomb Raider released last November to critical acclaim. Its story, characters, gameplay and visuals were nothing short of spectacular, which makes it so unfortunate to say that its first story based expansion, Baba Yaga: The Temple of the Witch, is just not particularly impressive.
Temple of the Witch starts in an existing location within the main game and while it introduces a new area called The Wicked Vale, there is a decent amount of the content that takes place in areas already well-traveled. The new area we visit in the downloadable chapter is well constructed; fun to navigate, but largely a lot of the same style we are already accustomed too. There is a clever dynamic at play within the content that does shake up the look and feel of the area, but once that wears off, the environment loses a bit of its ‘new car smell’.
You’ll start the adventure talking with a young girl named Nadia. You’ll rescue her from some Trinity soldiers, and she’ll mention that her grandfather has snuck off in the middle of the night. After a little bit of exploring, and I really mean “a little bit”, you’ll find out what has happened to him, and the reason for his disappearance. The documents and voice recordings you find paint a fantastic picture of the context of what this DLC shares with you narratively. I did enjoy the story that was on feature here, but aside from the stellar boss battle, this DLC is mostly a pass.
The boss battle is in fact stellar, like I’ve said, and is one of the best designed sections of not only this DLC, but it overshadows almost anything found in the main game. It’s a work of sheer brilliance and easily the only redeemable part of this narrative expansion. The puzzles on display here are also not on par with some of the head scratchers found in the main game. I was never stumped for long as the small areas you’ll have to run around in to solve said puzzles don’t leave much to question where to go and what to do.
Aside from tracking down the majority of the collectibles, I managed to beat the story in just under two hours, which for $9.99 is not a terribly great investment, considering I am just coming off Witcher 3’s first story pack, that at the same price, got me around 10-15 hours. Some would say its “quality over quantity”, and that would be true if what we had here was in fact good quality. I don’t mind short gaming experiences, but it is whether the experience feels whole after it’s over that makes up for it, in this case, it does not.
I don’t know if I can give this a solid recommendation, which is unfortunate as the main game is one of the best games I have played in years. As a whole, Temple of the Witch does add a few interesting things to an already fantastic game. You’ll get a new outfit, new bow and a wonderfully designed boss battle, but aside from that, there isn’t much else here. The story is well written, but almost all of it is told via the documents or voice recordings you’ll find scattered around the new area.
One of the interesting things about the story is it is actually based on real life Slavic folklore, including her ‘hut’, which you’ll become quite familiar with. If you know of the legend or what Baba Yaga loosely translates to, then the conclusion of the story becomes even more predictable.
Despite my reservations with the content, there is fun to be had here with The Temple of the Witch; it’s just sadly over before you know it. I wish we would have had another challenge tomb tossed in at the very least as it would have added a bit more content to justify the $9.99 asking price. As it stands right now, Temple of the Witch has a fantastic conclusion with its final confrontation, it’s just a shame that the journey there is just not worth the trip.