Tomb Raider developer Square Enix has released a treat for fans of the action-adventure video game franchise, in aid of its 25th anniversary. The studio has provided a peep behind the curtain at a prototype of Tomb Raider: Ascension – a survival-horror demo that was devised by partners Crystal Dynamics during an exploratory period to breathe new life into the franchise.

In a YouTube video, Square Enix admitted that this prototype provided some levels of inspiration for the eventual reboot of the franchise in 2013. Square Enix published three videos of the prototype, spanning the initial concept drawings, bite-sized in-game footage, and the prospective box art for “Ascension”. Square said that although the prototype resembled something “closer to a horror game” than a Tomb Raider release, there were survival elements from this demo that eventually inspired the 2013 remake.

Admittedly, some Tomb Raider fans will be disappointed that some of the additional atmospheric elements of Ascension’s survival horror did not make the cut in the 2013 reboot. That’s due to the largely safe approach taken in the series reboot, which sought to embellish on the origins of Lara Croft. The success of Rise of the Tomb Raider in 2015 was then followed by Shadow of the Tomb Raider in 2018, the final sequel of the reboot trilogy.

What does the future hold for the Tomb Raider series?

Some believe that the franchise is unlikely to release new material and will instead take the plaudits for the way in which the reboot successfully hauled Tomb Raider firmly into the 21st century. However, there are many who feel there is still plenty of mileage left in the series yet. Reports have indicated that Crystal Dynamics has been working on a new Tomb Raider title designed to “unify” the classic and rebooted games.

This would be a welcome addition to the franchise, which continues to gain traction in other mediums. The trio of Tomb Raider movies remains hugely popular with fans of the franchise. Even the addition of Alicia Vikander as a replacement for Angelina Jolie in the Lara Croft role failed to temper that enthusiasm, raking in over $274m at the box office in 2018 and equalling the revenue generated by the 2001 original. The protagonist Lara Croft has also been an enduring presence in the world of entertainment, with slot titles such as Tomb Raider II and The Lara Croft: Temples and Tombs remaining popular at some of the best online casinos USA. But perhaps, one of the biggest hints that a new Tomb Raider game is on the horizon was Crystal Dynamics’ job description for a new lighting artist. Within the listing, it states the studio requires an artist that can work to a “similar cinematic style to the latest Tomb Raider reboot”. While this isn’t a sure-fire sign that a new Tomb Raider is imminent – with Crystal Dynamics potentially developing another game in the same mold – many will have their fingers crossed for positive news in the coming months.