Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Mummy Demastered Review

The Mummy Demastered is the latest game from the makers of Contra 4, Aliens Infestation, and the Shantae series, WayForward. It’s an action adventure platformer which combines elements from many classic games. It is unapologetically a Metroidvania, and will feel very familiar to fans of the GBA and DS Metroid and Castlevania games. It’s available on XBO, PS4, PC, and Switch for $19.99. I played the NS version for this review.

The Mummy Demastered is a movie-tie in game, something we don’t see a lot of on consoles anymore. It’s based on the recent movie, The Mummy. Not the one with The Rock in it, the 2017 one that nobody saw, including me. I don’t think this game even has anything to do with the Scorpion King. In it, you play as a faceless special agent tasked with taking out the evil mummy woman, Princess Ahmanet. You’re just one of many, G.I. Joe character looking agents. This actually plays into a big mechanic in the game, because when you die, you actually start over as a different agent.

This game looks like it could run on 3DS. The sprites are drawn in a very low resolution, and they look very pixelated on both a TV and on the NS screen. It reminds me of how GBA games look on Wii U Virtual Console. They are good looking sprites, though. The art style of the graphics reminds me of the GBA and DS Castlevanias. Even though this looks like a 3DS game, there are framerate drops on Switch. It doesn't ruin the game, but it is noticeable. It’s weird, because WayForward themselves have made a better looking game, that runs better on Switch. The music sounds OK, but there aren’t a lot of tracks, and all of them loop very quickly.

This game’s map design is straight up Metroid. There’s a lot of horizontal scrolling areas, which lead into vertical areas, which branch off into more horizontal areas. Each area is full of platforms you can’t reach until you get a special skill, tricky enemies, and doors that require special weapons to open. You open the path to new areas with grenades instead of rockets, roll under small spaces instead of using the Morph Ball, and save at computers instead of save stations, but it’s all still very familiar. Every area is full of breakable environment pieces, like hanging lanterns, crates, and diamond clusters, which give you health items and ammo, and there’s also helicopters which let you quickly travel around the map, so there’s definitely a lot of Iga Castlevania influence here too.

Your agent plays a bit like a Contra guy. The controls feel like an evolution of how Aliens Infestation played. All your weapons are real-world weapons, like shotguns, flamethrowers, C4, and assault rifles, so your attacks definitely look more like Contra than Metroid or Castlevania, but they serve the same purpose as a lot of items in those games. You can hold R2 down to plant your feet and aim in any direction, much like in Samus Returns, but only in 8 directions. You can also get abilities from magical scrolls and trinkets found around the world. These scrolls and trinkets are tied into the mummy lore, and give you powers, like a dash that can break walls, a ceiling clinging ability, and the ability to run and jump underwater. You can also find items that increase you max ammo, max health, and area maps. The map also looks like it’s straight out of a Metroid or Castlevania game.

Your default submachine gun has infinite ammo, but everything else has limited ammo, including your grenades. You do run out of ammo, but you can always get more pretty easily. You can even go to the trunks where you get weapons and refill all your ammo. You can only carry 2 extra guns with you, so you also use these trunks to switch loadouts. It’s kind of like Resident Evil. All these trunks are linked together, so you don’t have to go to specific ones to get your stuff. You can only carry one type of grenade, but I never found a reason to go back to previous versions after getting the upgrades.

This game has some pretty cool bosses. There’s a giant spider, a giant scarab, and a giant croc. I guess the themes aren’t too creative, but the fights are good. The one that sticks out in my mind the most is the giant crocodile. It reminds of the Metroid Queen fight from AM2R and Samus Returns. It’s a giant fire breathing croc that doesn’t even fit in one screen. It breaks the wall behind you, and forces you to run into another room like 4 times. It’s a very intense fight, and it’s only the second boss.

The regular enemies aren’t as good. Most of them are very cheap and annoying. I mean, like Ninja Gaiden bird annoying. There’s actually a few areas full of crows coming at you from all directions. There are also zombies that rise out of the ground right underneath your feet, and sarcophagi that rise out of the ground right in front of you, open their door, and shoot out a ghost at you super fast. You only get about half a second to respond. These cheap enemies really made me dread traversing the world at times, because the game is also incredibly stingy about giving you health pickups, which look just like Metroid health pickups too.

If you’ve ever played Phantasy Star Online, Diablo 3, or WoW you might be familiar with the corpse run. That’s the mechanic in which when you die, you have to run back to your corpse to get your stuff back, or face some kind of penalty, like losing your money. This game has it’s own version of the corpse run. When you die in this game, you become a zombie, and the game autosaves immediately. You then start back at the last save room you saved in, with a “new” agent, with nothing but your default gun, 100 HP, and your scroll and trinket abilities. You have no extra health, no other guns, and no grenades. You’re almost as weak as you are when you first start the game, and you have to go kill your zombie to get all your stuff back. Your zombie is also much tougher than any enemy in the game. It’s basically a miniboss. So, say you died in a place full of cheap enemies, you’re going to have a hard time getting your stuff back. You don’t even get your HP filled all the way when you kill your zombie, you only get about half of it, so you have to go grind to fill it back up, and since the game is so stingy with HP pickups, that’s going to take a while. It’s actually a lot faster to just make a copy of your save when you have full health, and just reload that when you die. That’s what I ended up doing.

If you’re into Metroidvanias, this is a pretty good game to spend a couple of days with. It’s not a masterpiece, but it’s a very solid one of those.