I’m legitimately grateful I haven’t had to play that many movie tie-in games. For many, many years in the industry, movie tie in games were mostly just shovelware schlock titles thrown together to get confused grandmothers to waste Christmas money on things to disappoint their grandkids. Even today, a lot of the “better” games are just mobile IAP machines meant to bilk you out of your riches 99 cents at a time. Sure, the graphics are great and the gameplay is decent, but it’s just a grinder in disguise. Nothing like a match 3 title with the latest Disney princess emblazoned on it to get eight year olds addicted and make you throw ten dollars to Apple.
So I was really, really scared to dive into The Mummy Demastered, having seen and been thoroughly unimpressed with the movie. And the game is definitely based on the movie, albeit with a very different interpretation. Instead of watching undead Tom Cruise make decisions while running, you’re thrust into the shoes of a nameless Prodigium unit, which is an organization that seeks and destroys evil in the world. I’m pretty sure Universal is working towards making a whole expanded classic monster universe with Prodigium at the center, but I dunno, the first movie wasn’t hugely successful, still possible. Anyways, you gotta get in there, find the Mummy, Princess Ahmanet, and blow her to shreds, and deal with a ton of zombies and aggressive animals along the way.
The Mummy Demastered decides to take players on the journey through the lens of a metrovania title, which was surprising. Of all things, a type of game that inherently makes players spend a lot of time backtracking didn’t seem to be the best course of action to promote an action movie. And the memory of Greedy Guns is still pretty fresh in my mind, so I steeled myself against something that might truly be a pretty desperate cash grab, complete with broken levels and ridiculous execution. My trepidation is what makes the success of Mummy Demastered so refreshing and honestly confusing.
First and foremost, the world and map designs actually make sense. Starting off with just a rifle full of semi-automatic, unlimited ammo, you gradually find more expansions to your character, including new weapons and new skills. You find new weapons on dead technicians and soldiers who came before you, and skills usually come in the form of scrolls and relics that were from Ahmanet’s era. It’s a small detail that I really enjoyed and appreciated. Metroid had the luxury of everything you found being creations from the Chozo species, but Wayforward (who got put in charge of this project) realized that ancient Egyptians didn’t have flamethrowers, so having them appear in other ways made for better storytelling.
Your character moves along in a pretty solid fashion, and new abilities get mapped out onto the control setup pretty well. You can fire in most directions except for diagonally down, which is a shame, since there were several times I wanted to attack things before they were fully able to see me. Still, I could jump and roll pretty fluidly, I didn’t feel sticky or slippery, and my hands were pretty comfortable with toggling between weapons, hanging from ceilings and hucking grenades. A quick note for everyone: I would recommend using a knockoff controller or a USB-adapted Gamecube setup, because the rumble on the JoyCons is damn uncomfortable. There’s no option to turn it on or off, and it basically buzzes at full force every time you get shot, a boss appears, or someone sneezes. Given the good, subtle HD rumble that appeared in Shantae, I was a little shocked there was no finer tuning here, but maybe it wasn’t important during the porting to the Switch.
The monsters are also different degrees of generous. Some dropped refills nearly every time, and some were incredibly tight with wanting to even give me a small health refill. All were incredibly aggressive, however, and it felt like I had a much harder time dealing with rooms full of normal, grunty enemies than I did with the bosses. Don’t get me wrong, the bosses were massive and played a strong game, but almost all of them had a pattern, and I simply had to be patient. If I went in fully charged on grenades and extra rounds, it was a shorter, but not short, fight. Some good scope of things, and, plenty of incentive to not die.
Oh yea, the death mechanic. I gotta say, I’m a HUGE fan of the death sequence for Mummy Demastered. It’s already stressful enough not dying in a Metrovania game, but the added penalty of spawning with only your starting gear and needing to fight your own undead form in order to claim it back is frigging genius. It perfectly fits into the style of the world and never got old for me. Sure, it frustrated me to hell, and I wish that killing your old self fully healed you up, but I’m ok that it didn’t. The only issues arose when I did die in a boss room, and now I have to deal with two assholes instead of one.
Lastly, the delivery itself is on point through graphics and sound. I think Universal made the right choice tapping Wayforward to deliver something that wasn’t so focused on next gen graphics and presentation. You could have ended up with a 50 gigabyte Wolfenstein clone that was shiny, empty, costs too much and delivered too little, but the 16 bit inspiration works incredibly well. The design works well with the horror and darkness element, and the atmospheric soundtrack was original and spooky without being too recognizable or repetitive. This definitely takes the top spot for me in terms of movie games, though I’m not opposed to Sony finding Activision again and making a new Spiderman game. I can be swayed.
All in all, this is a pretty solid game, a well tread metrovania that doesn’t break too much new ground but also doesn’t mess up things much. It’s certainly shorter than Axiom Verge, and even shorter than Super Metroid, and I really could not have cared less about the exposition I got from headquarters every time I needed something explained to me about what would happen next. But it’s engaging, fun and actually worth the time to explore, not to mention it shows some forethought on Universal’s part in investing with people who know what they’re doing with games. If you’re a fan of the movie, you might not enjoy it as much simply because of the lack of Cruise, but casual 16 bit enthusiasts will find plenty to indulge themselves with. Grab it before Halloween, or perhaps going into the winter chill, because the long nights go so much better with dark spirits surrounding you.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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