The story behind viral TikToker's hilarious “Tomb Raider” death videos will make you cry nostalgic tears

The story behind viral TikToker's hilarious “Tomb Raider” death videos will make you cry nostalgic tears

Brandii went viral for screaming Lara Croft's name, but she has a deeper connection to "Tomb Raider" that'll speak to your inner child: "She’s so dramatic when she dies!"

If you were a gamer in the late '90s, chances are you chucked at least one PlayStation controller into a Panasonic TV set or a keyboard into a Macintosh computer screen. This was typically followed by gutturally yelling Tomb Raider star Lara Croft's name.

The controls for the franchise's 1996 debut weren't always seamless or intuitive. It was easy to backflip when you meant to side flip, so screaming "what the f---?" at the iconic action heroine as you inadvertently made her plummet to her death amid ancient ruins felt like a therapeutic practice for many. Now, in celebration of the new Tomb Raider I-III Remastered editions of the classic titles, one popular TikTok star is leaning into nostalgia as she brings the viral art of killing Croft (and shouting expletives in the process) back into mainstream consciousness.

The social media streamer, known mononymously as Brandii, built up a following this year for broadcasting her epic reactions to Croft’s deaths — which have been numerous for the Midwest-based gamer.

<p>Tomb Raider/YouTube</p> Lara Croft in the remastered 'Tomb Raider' games

Tomb Raider/YouTube

Lara Croft in the remastered 'Tomb Raider' games

“I had to have died at least 1,000 times,” Brandii (relatably) tells Entertainment Weekly of her renewed journey into the Tomb Raider series via the remastered installment’s PC edition.

Brandii has met her demise while riding Croft’s infamously “wonky” vehicles (like the snow mobile and the Venice speedboat), or at the hands of nefarious bats, birds, and other wildlife threats.

But, she usually reserves her most epic reactions for the moments Croft plummets over a cliff to her doom. That’s when Brandii typically shouts “LARA!” (yes, it’s audio-only, but still all-caps in nature) in her signature scream-laugh. You might even catch her hilariously wailing Croft’s made-up middle name, Denise, as a common phrase on Brandii’s page because “just saying Lara is not enough” to convey her frustration in the moment.

“Sometimes it’s just funny. More times than that I’m going to laugh at myself and Lara, especially because she’s so dramatic when she dies," Brandii observes. "She be gettin’ folded. Cracked like an egg. The sound of her bones cracking like that, it’s like, damn. It cracks me up. When she drowns, it looks like she’s throwing a tantrum, like she’s frustrated with us for letting her drown. She doesn’t just die; she squirms and makes this dramatic face. She’s so over it.”

The phrase “over it” might feel apt for someone who spent countless hours steering Croft to an early grave since she first played Tomb Raider as a kid some 28 years ago.

Related: Tomb Raider: The evolution of Lara Croft

Brandii, however, has a deeper emotional connection to the title as well as the act of accidentally killing the character in an endless loop for the enjoyment of her online following.

“The shriek that comes when I scream her name, I always blame it on her. It’s always Lara’s fault. Normally, when I’m frustrated, I yell at her. It’s very easy, like, ‘Lara, what the f---?’” Brandii jokes, before expressing the deeper emotions bubbling underneath her outward reaction to Croft’s grim missteps.

“Over all these years, even though she’s a fictional character, we’ve built a friendship with her. She’s a companion. As a kid, she became like a friend to me, even though clearly it’s a character in a game and you’re controlling her,” Brandii says. “She has a personality. The developers have given her so much life and sass. Even as an adult, she’s still very much a friend to me. It’s like playing and exploring with a friend or a sibling: they do something that frustrates you and you yell their name. [Lara's] name is the first thing that comes out. We’ve given her an identity through playing with her, and we’ve developed this player relationship with her.”

Croft’s status as a pop culture icon and, yes, digital sex symbol who bridged the divide between male and female leads in the gaming sector has reached legendary levels. She was recently named the most iconic video game star of all time in the series’ U.K. homeland, and her popularity translated to Hollywood a mere five years after Tomb Raider’s release. Angelina Jolie starred as Croft in two blockbuster films at the turn of the millennium, and Alicia Vikander took the reins for the 2018 cinema reboot (and, potentially, its long-delayed sequel.)

For a character with such a widespread imprint on the world, Brandii still views the experience of playing the games as a deeply singular one. That just might be why her videos resonate with so many of her followers.

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“It pushes you. It challenges you. It’s not an easy game. What makes Tomb Raider unique is that you make it your own,” Brandii explains. “You have to figure out what to do; there are no pop-ups, no non-playable characters you talk to. It’s just you and her, and there’s really no guidance. It’s frustrating, but so rewarding when you figure out a puzzle or where to go.”

In a way, Brandii works out momentary frustrations with the game’s classic “tank” controls on TikTok, but, she’s also healing a part of her inner child in the process.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

In unifying her voice with other millennial gamers on social media — some of whom have even posted videos of themselves crying upon hearing the Tomb Raider theme music for the first time in years on Remastered’s menu screen — Brandii isn’t just yelling “LARA!” for comic effect, it’s a battle cry of nostalgia for all those now-grown-up kids who no longer have to sit at home, by themselves, raiding tombs with the best woman to ever do it.

“When I played Tomb Raider, it was just me and her, going through the tombs, figuring out the puzzles, and fighting the zoo of animals in the first game,” Brandii reminisces. “Lara Croft became my bestie as an only child. I had a vibrant imagination, because I had to.”

Related: Tomb Raider game writer wants to tackle an older, 'grizzled' Lara Croft

From in-game tombs to TikTok, it’s clear Brandii’s still uncovering hidden treasure, whether at the hands of Croft or every time a new viewer hears her swear online.

Tomb Raider I-III Remastered is available now on multiple platforms. Watch Brandii's viral TikTok videos showing off all of her hilarious Lara Croft deaths above.

Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.