Lara Croft is a lesbian. Crystal Dynamic’s 2013 reboot of the legendary adventure franchise introduced a younger, more sympathetic Lara who wasn’t afraid to show her vulnerable side. This meant confiding in friends and building relationships throughout the trilogy as she dove into her legacy, fought against Trinity, raided tombs, and killed way too many people.
Some creatives behind the reboot have said that Lara Croft and Sam Nishimura were originally envisioned as a romantic couple, or were at least going to end up together at some point. You can see it in their chemistry and conversations on the Endurance before everything goes to shit, or Lara’s determination to save her when she’s captured and intended to be sacrificed to Himiko.
She will do anything to save Sam, and while she cares about her other friends too, there’s something more distinct about the two women that stands out even today. Even in a post launch comic, the author said that Lara and Sam were meant to end their respective storylines with a kiss, but this was reduced to a friendly hug in order to avoid any definitive confirmation of a queer relationship. It sucked, and Sam not appearing at all in either Rise or Shadow of the Tomb Raider only left fruity fans like me hoping for an unexpected return.
We didn’t get that return, but now that Crystal Dynamics has confirmed a new Tomb Raider is in the works with the help of Unreal Engine 5, it is finally time to give our favourite explorer a girlfriend. She is now the woman she has always wanted to be, putting herself through hell in the Survivor Trilogy as she saved the world, uncovered the truth behind her mysterious parents, and finally sought to be happy in life for the first time in so long. We leave her sitting behind a desk, talking about the journey to come and exactly where we might be going next.
I don’t see how this next game can’t involve Sam in some way, either as a main character or a returning flair who plays a core role in the unfolding narrative. Editor-in-chief Stacey Henley recently wrote about a need to remaster the Legend Trilogy before this new game rolls around in order to link the timelines together, or at least provide some form of cadence to where all of these capers sit in the established canon. I’m not sure if that will happen, or if this new game will see us flash forward to a time when Lara and Sam are already together, having been on these aforementioned adventures together before settling down in a woodland bungalow to enjoy their cottagecore retirement.
Then, suddenly, a new threat rears its head and forces them to take up arms once again to investigate. I’d love to see a reinterpretation of the original game with this version of Lara where she travels around the world fighting dinosaurs and going up against larger than life baddies with her sapphic sidekick. There’s so much potential here if Square Enix stops being a conservative grandma and gives Crystal Dynamics the freedom to give Lara these connections and cement the importance of her queer identity.
Lara Croft is one of the most defining heroines in gaming history, so imagine the impact she would have by coming out as a canon lesbian. Not one that is awkwardly nixed in comics to avoid outrage, but someone who smooches their girlfriend in cutscenes or has a history with female partners she isn’t afraid to reference. Make her flirty, loving, and honest in a way that even the most bigoted skeptic couldn’t argue against.
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