In partnership with the Universal Brand Development, developer Wayforward plunges into the dark and troubled world of Universal Studio’s latest horror movie, The Mummy, in its latest retro-style sidescroller The Mummy: Demastered. Now, to be honest, I have no idea how this game ties into the movie, or if it even does so at all. I’ve been meaning to check it out even though it was critically panned, but it is just one of those things I never got around to doing. As far as the game’s plot goes, you are an agent of the Prodigium: an elite group of highly trained soldiers that are the only line of defense between humanity and supernatural phenomena. Princess Ahmanet has returned to the human world, and boy is she angry. She isn’t alone, either. Ahmanet has unleashed her supernatural hordes and only you can stop her before she regains her full strength and devastates the world.
Now for those of you not familiar with WayForward, their specialty is making fun and interesting sidescrolling games with a heavy dose of the retro, and The Mummy: Demastered is no exception. The graphics take on a two-dimensional 16-bit pixilated style, but much nicer and much more detailed than a true 16-bit game would look. And to top it off, the animations are as smooth as butter. It’s really easy on the eyes. There are a few different locales that you pass through on the way to defeat Ahmanet, but my favorites are the forest and London covered in sand areas. It seems like most of the game is spent in underground caverns, so the breakup in scenery when you get to the areas I just mentioned is especially welcome. The retro flavor doesn’t just stop at the graphics. The Mummy: Demastered has a rockin’ chiptune soundtrack to go along with it. The rapid-fire synth beats go well with running and gunning your way through the legions of monsters while the darker, more ominous tunes help to remind you that you are worse things to encounter in this dark, gothic hell. The graphics and soundtrack mesh well and give the game a nice, dark tone to the whole affair while keeping that nice action feel.
After about 10 minutes of playing The Mummy, I realized that this was very much indeed a so-called ‘Metroidvania’ type of game. Your agent starts off with a basic rifle and no abilities besides a short roll to help dodge enemies and get under low-openings. He can fire in every direction and if you hold the right trigger you can lock his movement, which is really handy for not walking into enemies while trying to aim at tricky angles. There is a large map to fill in bit by bit as you progress, with plenty of backtracking to uncover more secrets and alternate paths once you unlock certain traversal abilities. Some of these abilities come in the form of scrolls that grant you special powers, for example the ability to sprint; jump higher; walk under water; and phase dodge. These allow you to reach hard to get to spots and hopefully uncover gear to help your survive. There are ammo bandoliers to increase the ammo capacity of your weapons. Health packs give you an extra tank of 100 health to your health bar. You can also find new types of explosives and weapons. Your agent starts off the game with a basic rifle that has unlimited ammo. The more powerful weapons you uncover, however, have limited ammo and can be refilled by either finding an ammo cache or when defeated enemies and smashed objects drop some. In addition to your basic rifle, you can carry two other weapons and one type of grenade. If you are a person who likes collectibles, there are 50 relics hidden throughout the game, hiding out and waiting for your loving attention. Thankfully, the game has a fast travel system in place so trekking around to fill out your map and find all the secrets isn’t a total slog.
There is a very Dark Souls-esque mechanic in place that I found pretty unique and interesting at first and then began to hate as I progressed farther into the game and things got harder. When you die, you become another generic agent with none of the gear/weapons you had previously. Your old agent gets resurrected on the spot that he died (or a little bit beforehand, if you died during a boss fight). In order to get back your hard-earned stuff, you must go and take him out. To add insult to injury, the little bastard uses all the weapons he had equipped on him against you! Talk about traitorous tendencies. Later on in the game, you will have quite the time trying to take him down if he happens to be equipped with the more powerful weapons and surrounded by additional enemies. To exacerbate the problem is the lack of an easy way to fully restore your health. The only way to get health is to find it from objects and enemies. It fully replenishes when you find a new health pack, but there is only a handful of them in the game. You are essentially forced to farm for health, going back and forth between rooms in order to smash objects and hopefully find a bit of health. It is very time consuming, especially when you are trying to refill hundreds of health points, five measly points at a time. It gets frustrating when you fail a boss attempt and are forced to scrounge for minutes before you can try again. And the game autosaves as soon as you die, so no reloading your save file, either.
With The Mummy: Demastered, WayForward proves once again that they are the best at what they do: providing an entertaining, engaging sidescrolling experience with a retro flair. I enjoyed most of my time exploring the various locales and backtracking to uncover as many secrets as I could. It was satisfying when I managed to take down those tricky bosses after learning their patterns and how to avoid their attacks. It isn’t a particularly long title. I didn’t get 100% completion, but close to it and I managed to squeeze out around 7 hours of gameplay from it. I would definitely recommend checking this title out, especially if you’re a fan of games like Contra and Super Metroid.
*Note: A copy of the game was provided for the purpose of the review
Final Score: 8.5/10
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