Games that are based on movies usually carry a heavy stigma. They are known for being quick cash-ins that are usually not worth your time. I say "usually" because there are exceptions to the rule. This time, we're looking at The Mummy Demastered. This is a retro take on the new Tom Cruise remake of the same name.
While the story and universe are concurrent with the movie, the game goes in a different direction. Does it manage to revive the franchise in a way the movie failed to do with audiences? Let's awaken an ancient evil and find out!
A New Take on Movie-Based Games
The word "remaster" is thrown around a lot these days, but it's not often at all you see the term "demastered" thrown into a game's title. Retro remakes are few and far between, but this new title based on the 2017 movie seeks to do exactly that.
It takes the concept and universe of the film, even down to a pixelated photo of Russel Crowe's character, and send it back in time to the days of the SNES. Classic retro graphics and a traditional Metroidvania approach to design make this one of the most unique movie tie-ins I've seen.
You play as one of the agents sent in to investigate the mysterious resurrection of Princess Ahmanet, who has been dead for centuries. The game doesn't do too much to introduce you to the story or the world, instead offering a quick opening and some dialogue from a Russel Crowe's character in the film.
It's a pretty simple premise, but it quickly funnels you into the gameplay, which is commonly the focus of retro titles like this one. Let's find out if it nails that classic feel.
A Few Twists on a Tried-and-True Formula
As the nameless hero, you'll fight your way through all manner of enemies and gigantic bosses. That is until you die, and you will. The Mummy Demastered uses a unique method of punishing you for death that goes beyond a simple respawn.
Instead, your previous agent comes back to life as a servant of darkness. You spawn again at the last save point as a new agent without any of your prior upgrades.
To get back to where you left off, you need to go back to the location of your death (or just outside of a boss room) and kill your former self. This is actually a really cool mechanic, but it does tend to wear thin when you're trying to defeat a boss, and you repeatedly have to kill your former self to get another shot.
The issue is further compounded by the fact that there's no reliable way to get consistent health recovery. You'll find it in environmental objects you break and when you defeat enemies. This means that once you've defeated your fellow agent, you'll also need to run around to find health before facing the boss again.
An option to reload your last save for boss fights would have helped in this situation, but as it stands, you'll pay a hefty price for each death. Beyond this, the standard mechanics are in place that you would expect from a Metroidvania title.
You'll find hidden areas, upgrades, and secrets abound in the winding tunnels and vertical areas of the map. Save rooms will give you an opportunity to set a checkpoint for yourself if you should meet your untimely demise.
New upgrades will give you abilities that are needed to find and expand upon areas of the map where you previously had been unable to progress. It's standard for the genre, but it checks all of the boxes here in quick succession.
There are some retro features here that would have been better left in the past, however. The eight-way directional aiming, for example, doesn't give you as much flexibility during combat as a full range of motion would. A full 360-degree range of motion would have been much better.
Combine this with some intense boss fights, plenty of environmental hazards, and tough enemies, and it's easy to see how the difficulty can quickly ramp up for you.
It doesn't do much to redefine the genre, but it does do a lot of things right, and while the death mechanic can be frustrating in the long-term, there's no doubting that it's unique. A few more modern concessions would have gone a long way, but what is here is still a solid experience.
Wonderful Retro Presentation
The Mummy Demastered goes all in with its presentation. The 16-bit style graphics look like they jumped straight out of a SNES game, but the modern HD resolution brings out the detail and color in this classic art style.
It also helps that The Mummy Demastered takes you to all manner of locations, including tombs, forests, sewers, subway tunnels, and much more.
Retro gamers looking for a blast from the past will find a lot to love here. Modern gamers may miss some small details that could have made this experience more palatable for them, but as it stands The Mummy Demastered is a solid Metroidvania that does the license justice, even if it doesn't bring the franchise back from the dead on its own.
Final Score: 7.0/10
A copy of The Mummy Demastered was provided to PS4 Experts for review purposes
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert date - 11/27/17