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Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris Hands-On

Credit: Crystal Dynamics/Square Enix.

(Image credit: Crystal Dynamics/Square Enix.)

NEW YORK -- Iconic adventurer Lara Croft is back in a new spin-off of the classic Tomb Raider video-game series, called Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris. Developed by studio Crystal Dynamics, the game will release as a download for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC on December 9 ($20). 

A top-down hack-and-slash game, Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris lets up to four players cooperate and compete to explore tombs and save the ancient Egyptian god Osiris. I checked out a hands-on demo of Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris yesterday (Oct. 8).

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Following the actual Egyptian myths, Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris revolves around the story of Osiris' murder and dismemberment at the hands of his brother Set. Now Lara and rival archaeologist Carter Bell have discovered the Temple of Osiris, and must help Osiris' wife, the goddess Isis, and their son Horus retrieve Osiris' pieces from the various tombs in his temple to put the god back together again.

If you've played the prequel, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, or even any other multiplayer hack-and-slash game such as Gauntlet Dark Legacy, you'll be able to jump right into Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris. Even if you haven't, it's not hard to pick up. The game consists mainly of exploring levels in a third-person top-down perspective and fighting off waves of Egyptian-themed enemies.

Temple of Osiris is a bit different from other hack-and-slash games in its emphasis on puzzles.The game can be played in single-player mode or with up to three other people, either in local co-op or online. In single-player mode, players will take control of Lara, who can use her grappling hook and a magical Egyptian staff, in addition to guns and bombs, to traverse tombs and solve puzzles.

If a second player joins the game, that player will take the role of either Isis or Horus, the ancient Egyptian gods. In this mode, the Egyptian god will have the staff and Lara will have the grappling hook, forcing the two players to work together to pass the levels. Third and fourth players can play either as the other Egyptian god or as Carter Bell.

Though the demo I played was four-player, Crystal Dynamics representatives said that the game's levels will rearrange themselves based on the number of people playing. In single-player, you'll be able to play the whole level by yourself. In two-, three- or four-player games, each player will have to cooperate to pass certain obstacles.

Temple of Osiris isn't all rah-rah teamwork, however. Even while working together, players can also compete for the most enemies killed or gold coins collected. Bombs can also knock other players off their feet. Once during the demo, I was standing on another player's grappling-hook rope, using it to cross a ravine of spikes, when the player abruptly retracted his grapple, sending me crashing to my death.

To increase replayability, Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris lets players change the game from night to day and choose between various weather types. Both will change the types of enemies that appear.

In addition to the digital download, the "gold edition" of Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris will be released for $50 as a physical disc and include a Lara Croft figurine, an art book and extra content such as new tombs and character costumes. This content can also be purchased separately as DLC (downloadable content).

Jill Scharr is a staff writer for Tom's Guide, where she regularly covers security, 3D printing and video games. You can follow Jill on Twitter @JillScharr and on Google+. Follow us @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.