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Community Spotlight
Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness

Guest Article: Paris through the Angel of Darkness Lens

May 3, 2024

Header by Lara Titova

You entered a dark room illuminated by the dim light of a desk lamp. Almost the entire wall was occupied by photos and sheets of paper and attached notes, between which threads were strung in the best traditions of noir detectives. Above all this research work was a plaque with the inscription “Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness". “I'm glad you came in,” I told you, smiling. “I've been inspired by this game all my life. It became a significant part of my life, became the reason for choosing a profession and life motivation, and helped me find great friends. In 2023 – exactly 20 years after the release of the game – I carried out my own investigation, visiting the city where it all started: Paris. The purpose of my journey was to find real references that were used in the game when the levels were created. The starting point was the names of streets in the Paris ghetto, and the addresses and maps that are in the development files. I suggest that you take part in this case.” With these words, the author of the article spread out photos on the table in front of you. 


The first address that was saved on my phone was the house of Margot Carvier. I got to the right street and walked around it from beginning to end, looking into the neighbouring blocks. In reality, according to Place St Sulpice, the sixth house is also the last one; it is adjacent to the Catholic church of Église Saint-Sulpice and the square of the same name. That day, when I was running around the neighbourhood looking for the right address, there was a vintage exhibition in the square. Branded clothing stores are located on the ground floors of the houses along this street. All in all, I don't think it looks like a place from the game. Sorry, Margot, we won't be able to talk… 

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When Lara goes to the park to meet Bernard, we can see a very unusual Art Nouveau subway entrance. The Paris metro opened 116 years ago, and Art Nouveau was at its peak at that time. Architect Hector Guimard was involved in the creation of entrances to the metro. Each entrance to the station had the same green colour, which was supposed to resemble a bronze patina, and a sign with the word Métropolitain in a font designed by Guimard himself. 

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According to the game, there was a church next to the park, in which a boxing club was set up. Such a combination is quite difficult to find in reality, but visually I found similarities with Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois, located near the Louvre. Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois is a monument of late or "flaming Gothic"; it is notable for the sophistication of architectural forms and abundance of ornamentation. Inside the church is the most famous stained-glass rose of the Renaissance period. There was such a wonderful organ sound that I didn't want to leave.

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Fortunately, there were no dogs this time.  I could write more than one article about the beauty of Parisian cemeteries, but all references can be found at one of the most famous cemeteries in the world: Père Lachaise, which has become a museum of Gothic sculpture. The Eastern Cemetery (opened in 1804, and the official name of Pere Lachaise), was not popular with the relatives of the deceased during the first years of its existence. It was then decided to relocate the remains of certain famous French figures to the cemetery. Graves of Moliere, Balzac, Marcel Proust, Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, Nestor Makhno, Oscar Wilde, Frédéric Chopin, and many other famous people of various eras have been found to date, and this marketing ploy has paid off. 

Strangely enough, the cemetery made a greater impression on me than the classic sights. Statues, crows, crypts of all kinds, cobwebs, and moss that engulfed the tombstones; an amazing feeling of calm and comfort visited me here. 

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The game map of Paris has nothing to do with reality. I went around the entire nearby Louvre area, exploring the bridges of the Neuf and the Arts, and I can say with confidence that the places and street names are borrowed from all over Paris and have nothing to do with a specific place. Of course, you can find a lot of similar things that were used in game assets, but for the most part, the map and streets of Paris from TRAOD are just the developers’ artistic representation of this wonderful city. 

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Concept art by James Kenny

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You bet I found a lot of coincidences here! The Louvre is the most popular museum in the world and a place to which several levels are dedicated in the game. 

Lara sneaks into the Louvre through the sewer system, using explosives to create a passage. The beginning of the level is on the ground floor. Here, there is an exhibition dedicated to the history of the Louvre – in particular, the partially preserved walls of the mediaeval fortress, which Lara sees as soon as she enters the museum. 

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Concept art by James Kenny

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Stealth in the real Louvre is hardly possible in most halls, nor is stealthy sneaking up from behind (hello, Trent!); the parquet floors creak quite noticeably. Most doors are opened with a key, or in rare cases with a card, so it is unlikely that you will be able to catch an inattentive guard and get a pass from him to open all the doors.

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Well, where can you go without Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa? There is still no clear answer to the question of whose portrait this is. In the case of the Angel of Darkness, the developers hid a noticeable Easter egg in the shape of Peter Connelly's face in the texture. Is it worth clarifying that the Mona Lisa looks different in real life?

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Analysing the visuals of the halls in the real museum and in the game, I can safely say that the gaming Louvre did not contain even a thousandth of what you can see in the real Louvre. The corridors of Angel of Darkness are similar to part of the halls of sculptures inside the Denon Wing; however, they are not a direct copy. I spent about five hours on a cursory inspection of the Louvre, the first two of which my head was just getting used to so many works of art in all possible forms.

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I don't think many people know that, in the game, next to the gallery where Lara and Trent meet, is a small room in which there is a sphinx with a goat's head. You can see it if you use flight mode or other techniques to analyse the environment. In reality, the similar hall contains a statue of the Sphinx, found in 1825 among the ruins of the temple of Amun in Tanis. His head is an ordinary man’s and there are no galleries with glass cases nearby.

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There should be no exceptions in full immersion!

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The Hall of Seasons is remembered by many for the battle with Brother Obscura, which takes place in a small room. There are several statues holding paintings in a circle, around which is a border of lava. In the centre are figures supporting a coffin with an inscription in Latin. The walls and columns of the hall are made of human bones. It was this place I remembered when I visited the Catacombs of Paris.

The catacombs are a network of underground tunnels and artificial caves. At the end of the eighteenth century, the monstrous congestion of Paris’ cemeteries forced the authorities of the French capital to export disinfected bones to abandoned quarries located under the city streets. By 1860, the remains of six million people had been moved to the catacombs. Employees of the special inspection ensured that the bones and skulls were stacked neatly, organised into underground galleries and erected monuments. 

As a fearless lover of everything underground, I did not miss the opportunity to see with my own eyes a city built of bones – a sight not so much frightening as sad. 

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You were looking at a bunch of photos spread out on the table. “I didn't have much time to investigate – only five days in Paris is terribly short, but I hope you were interested.” The author put all the files in a folder and smiled gently. “Thank you for reading to the end. As long as there are those who are interested in this topic, the story is not forgotten and all the characters are alive in us. Appreciate what motivates you and act – this is the only way to realise everything you dream of.” 

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Guest Article and header image by Lara Titova 

Proofreader: Jenni Milward 

This article is the final chapter of the investigative series exploring locales through the lens of Angel of Darkness, which you can read here:

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Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness

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