Tomb Raider Legend’s Bootstrap Paradox

Have you ever wondered how Lara embarked on her journey to understand the mysteries of her mother’s disappearance? Spoiler alert ahead for those of you haven’t played the seventh instalment of the series.

So, as nine-year-old Lara and her mother crash land in Nepal, they stumble upon a long-forgotten Buddhist temple, inside of which lie ruins. Upon examining them, Lara nears them and touches what appears to be a sword lodged in a rock in the centre of 5 surrounding pillars. This activates a portal through which voices reach to Lara’s and her now caught-up-to-her mother. As both of them cannot make out what the voices beckon them, Amelia Croft pulls back her daughter and goes up to the sword. In fear for her daughter, she pulls the sword out and disappears into the nothingness.

Off-gameplay lore tells us that this set Lara’s father, and eventually herself to look for clues as to what purpose might those ruins serve, and where their wife and mother disappeared.

So, where does this paradox come in.

By the end of the game, we find out that those voices calling out to them are actually Lara and her nemesis Amanda from the future. The future where Lara has accomplished regathering the sword pieces and once more reactivating that portal. This is what the Bootstrap Paradox, or Causal Loop is. One encountered event A causes the person onto a next event B which in turn actually causes event A to begin with. And the paradox is also the fact that one cannot trace where the beginning is. Nonetheless, the causal loop is used in Time Travel theories and overall fictional plots. We do not observe any time travel by Lara, but rather make the connection at the end of the game. Even so, if we hypothetically accept there are multiple universes happening, then the causal loop keeps repeating over and over. Lara cannot find out that it’s her who causes the accident to begin with, in order to stop it once and for all, thus the loop continuing.

This plot detail isn’t really delved into by the game nor in the other 2 games of the same trilogy. The highlight is on Lara’s journey in finding what happened to her mother and uncovering the truth. Nonetheless, once I find out about this paradox and saw it in Tomb Raider Legend, I was left pleasantly surprised. It would’ve been a cluster giving attention to that paradox. I am not sure if the developers actually thought about delving into it from a plot perspective but I am happy they didn’t. It would’ve diverted the attention from the actual point of the plot, and also it would’ve made it really heavy with a lot of plot holes.

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