If you look at La Mulana Ex, first impressions let you know instantly this game is old school. This first impression is one hundred percent right, it was designed to be this way and seems to be very proud of it. The original version of the game was out in the mid noughties and was a stellar cult hit with it’s fans. I myself had no dealings with the game and up till now never really knew of it totally.
As mentioned above this game is retro in every way, the graphics, the music and even the gameplay is retro. By retro I mean, hard, rock hard, so much so that it will put people off. I like my retro gaming and I did enjoy this, but there are some points that I did not and they feed off the retro feel this game has.
The premise of the game is basically think of Indiana Jones crossed with an SNES generation platformer like Super Metroid or a Castlevania game. You start out on a quest to go into a temple to find artefacts and do that sort of thing. I didn’t really buy into it, I guess because there wasn’t that much to buy into, like those sort of games it is imitating. I like a storyline in a game that I can follow, but it isn’t important to me.
The game itself plays like Spelunky, the rouge like Indiana Jones indie game that has made a storm on the gaming scene on most platforms. Your character controls like the Spelunky protagonist, jumping using whips and weapons to dispatch snakes and the like to move through levels. This where the retro thing becomes a negative, Spelunky plays smooth, fast and well, La Mulana Ex is not as good as this by far. It is slower and has less things you can do, which I guess is retro.
The locations and monsters have a large amount of variation and this spices things up regularly. There are puzzles to complete as you go along also, varying from very easy to very obscure, cruel even. Then there are the boss fights, this is a big boon for the game in my opinion. The big monsters vary greatly, but are all epic on the small screen, all being something to enjoy, if very difficult.
As you can see the theme here is difficult, not necessarily in a bad way. If you like a challenge and have a taste for the yesterday in gaming then yes I think this could be for you. At the same time, I didn’t enjoy it myself too much, the difficulty is fine, I was gaming back in the day and have completed some of the supposed hard games of those days. That’s not the major problem for me, more like I found it hard to engage with the game in it’s form. I like the pick up and play exploration of Spelunky, but this game soon became a chore. Even though there was more areas to explore, more monsters and traps and variety, Spelunky was still a better game, perhaps that is obtuse, but I just wanted to play Spelunky before this one every time I had it on, and that is the kicker for me.
While this game is great in it’s style, there still is retro games or even retro style games ahead of it on my play list. I dare say this will be sacrilege to some fans, but I say this game is okay, but buy only if you really like the sound and look of it, especially at the price point I find it to be.
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