brain teasers

Are You Smart Enough to Solve the Only Puzzle in Tomb Raider?

This is not the puzzle.

This post contains an insignificant Tomb Raider spoiler.

For a movie called Tomb Raider, based on a franchise beloved for its gigantic interactive puzzles, the new reboot has shockingly little to offer in terms of tomb raiding or puzzles. Heck, with the exception of a brief scene in the beginning where our Lara inspects the Croft family crypt — less of a raid, more of a visit — we don’t even set foot in a tomb until the start of the third act. (The first two acts are mostly Alicia Vikander doing pull-ups.) And once we’re in the titular tomb, the movie’s attention is occupied by two well-worn action-film activities: skulking around in the dark, and fighting to the death. So if you’re the type of Tomb Raider fan who fell in love with the franchise’s signature puzzles (as opposed to the, uh, other stuff), there might not be a lot for you here.

But on the puzzles front, you won’t be completely deprived. The movie does contain one single puzzle scene, and it is incredibly baffling. My colleagues and I can’t quite figure out if that’s because we failed to solve it or because the solution simply makes no sense. So, we’re going to play a game: I’m going to describe the puzzle to you, and you are going to tell me if you came to the same conclusion Lara did. If you did, congratulations, you’re smart enough to survive the tomb in Tomb Raider. If you did not, well, that’s maybe more proof that this movie is not exactly a feast for the mind.

Let’s set the scene: At this point in the movie, Lara and most of the movie’s other characters are exploring the tomb of Himiko, an ancient Japanese queen said to possess mysterious evil powers. We’re already past the part where sharp things pop up from the floor, and have not yet gotten to the part where spiky things fall from the ceiling. The gang enters a room where a lot of complicated things happen, but the basics are: (1) The floor starts to fall away, tile by tile, and (2) they read an inscription that implies the only way for them not to eventually fall to their deaths is to put a gem that’s “the color of life” into a Himiko statue.

Are you smart enough to figure it out? Here are your options. (And these are just the colors I remember them trying in the film; feel free to throw out your own answer, like chartreuse.)

Is it yellow, the color of the sun, which gives us life?

Is it blue, the color of water, the source of all life?

Is it red, the color of love, the thing that makes life worth living? (Or the color of the heart, which powers life.)

Is it white, which is every other color put together, in other words a metaphor for life?

Is it black? (Gotta try everything.)

Got your choice ready? Okay, here’s the answer:

As Lara eventually figures out, the correct solution is to put the yellow and blue gems together to create green, which is, obviously, the color of life.

Please let me know in the comments if I am an idiot, or if this puzzle stumped you too. (And please don’t comment just to tell me that green is the first thing that pops up when you Google “the color of life.” I’m well aware!)

Are You Smart Enough Not to Die in Tomb Raider?