03/09/2018

⚔️🏰 Review: La Mulana 2 "Tough as old whips" 🏰⚔️ #indiegame #gamedev @LaMulana

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Game Title: La Mulana 2
Developer:  Nigoro
Platform Reviewed: PC (Steam)
Having never played the original game or any of the remakes, I was thrust into the world of La Mulana pretty fiercely. 
Whilst tough by design, it also feels the closest game to capturing the same magic of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night that I’ve played in quite some time and obviously that’s a very good thing.

A 2D action / adventure ‘Metroidvania’ styled game, La Mulana 2 casts you in the role of the daughter of the original explorer, who in this game is looking for her father, missing since the events at the end of La Mulana. 
A Kickstarter-backed adventure, the game has spent over four years in development and although I can’t compare it to my experiences of the previous game (having not played it) it really captures the spirit of the genre from its frantic score (mind that slap bass!) to it’s pixelated characters and wonderfully low-res digitised backgrounds.
The lore contained within the ancient ruins and dungeons of La Mulana is dense. Norse mythology is the order of the day and various stone tablets are filled with histories of the different generations of races, locations and cryptic hints to puzzles. Combine this with the conversations had with the various NPCs and ‘last thoughts’ scanned from skeletons’ minds and you have the recipe for a game which has a rich tapestry of tales to draw upon which I can a lot of players getting hips deep into, should they so choose.
As you make your way through the different areas, you’ll come across huge boss fights and a wide roster of enemy types, each of whom will drop either precious coins, which can be used to purchase handy apps and gadgets or green orbs which, when filled up can recharge your health (a godsend if you are betwixt save points!).
The combat in the game is initially handled by a whip and some shurikens (which are also used to solve some physical puzzles) and both feel satisfying to use but soon open up as you work through La Mulana gaining that all-important cash. The movement and jumping takes a second to get used to as it uses inertia quite a lot and the control in mid-air alters depending on if you’ve jumped straight up, in a specific direction or if you have fallen…inevitably onto spikes.
Ah… the spikes, this brings me onto what makes up the bulk of the traps in the game and I refer to it as the ‘Rick Dangerous Effect’, yes…there are instant-kill traps and collapsing ledges that WILL drop  you onto spikes. Luckily, they are usually located just after a save point so you don’t have to backtrack too much but sometimes it can feel cheap to just be squished without warning. The puzzles and boss fights can also be challenging, especially if you make the same mistake I did at the start which was to read the Cursed Tablet twice (who wouldn’t?) thereby accidentally unlocking hard mode…something I only realised four hours into my adventure and wondering why the bosses were inserting their feet directly into my rectum on a regular basis against my will.

La Mulana 2 may be challenging and sometimes unfair but I couldn’t stop playing it. Even the hectic, repetitive music became a hypnotic mantra as I died for the fiftieth time only to grit my teeth, squeeze my controller until the plastic creaked and then walk once more into that bloody boss room. There are a score of hidden areas, items and enemy character cards to pick up all of which add to your ever-growing bestiary and the very Eastern character portraits and conversations just add to the games charm. It captures the genre very well whilst also suffering from some faults that can put people off; a relatively high difficulty, insta-kills, and the ability to become totally stuck or lost, all of which can sometimes be deal-breakers for me but my word, it’s addictive to make progress and see what’s in the next chamber, inching ever closer to your ultimate goal.

Right, I’m off to whip a load of crumbling walls.
P.S. I must have stared at the pause screen for about ten minutes as I mulled over re-starting the game on normal mode after accidentally setting it to a higher difficulty. 
It also made me laugh (through tears of rage) as I watched a walkthrough for tips on a boss fight to see that what had taken me over two hours had taken the guy illustrating the walkthrough twelve minutes. 
Ah… games.
❄️ RATING: ICE COOL ❄️
Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Recommended with reservations, one to consider if you are a fan of the genre)
MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)

Review By Britt