If you’re going to bring something back from the dead, it might as well be a classic, writes Ronan Jennings
GAME LIKE AN EGYPTIAN
What did Tom Cruise say when The Mummy finished shooting? “It’s a wrap!” Yes, the only thing older than a mummy is that joke. Still, if you’re going to bring something back from the dead, it might as well be a classic.
That’s exactly what Way Forward have done with The Mummy Demastered.
They have taken a classic game, Castlevania, and used a movie licence as an excuse to reanimate it. Never mind that this game has released months after the film came out – The Mummy Demastered is far better than the movie and a treasure well worth unearthing.
The truth is the connections to Tom Cruise and the Universal film are limited. While the main protagonist is the goddess Ahmanet and you play a soldier in Dr Jekyll’s monster- hunting special forces, the rest is just window dressing for a wonderful exercise in Metroidvania game design.
If you don’t know by now, Metroidvania happens when developers combine the best parts of the Metroid and Castlevania series of games, both of which are famed for their interconnected levels, focus on exploration, backtracking and power-ups. While Metroid made a hugely successful foray into 3D with the Prime series, both itself and Castlevania are more famous for their 2D side-scrolling games.
Just like a noble pharaoh, The Mummy Demastered traces its lineage back to those originals.
In fact, the genes are split evenly between the two, with Demastered being a shoot-em-up at heart, like Metroid, but set in a world of the undead, like Castlevania.
The Mummy isn’t just a clone, however, and brings one new trick to the party. Whenever your character dies, you are reborn as a new soldier and must fight your dead cadaver to win back your old equipment.
True, this borrows heavily from the Souls series (itself influenced by Metroidvania) but we haven’t seen this mechanic used much in side-scrollers.
If you’re a fan of classic Castlevania or Metroid, you’d be a right Egypt to give The Mummy Demastered a miss, especially at only €20 . It may not break new ground, but with mummies around, best to leave the ground intact.
Spelunky, meanwhile, broke ground in more ways than one. Not only is it one of the greatest independent games of all time, it quite literally involved breaking the earth with a pickaxe, bombs and whatever else took you deeper underground.
Spelunky’s notoriously difficult rogue-like platform design was both a treasure and a curse, maddeningly addictive and, well, just maddening. It’s a lesson in game design 101.
Nine years on, we are finally getting a sequel. It was announced at the Paris Games Show this week and will be coming to PS4 first, followed by PC. A brief trailer revealed the game would be about the daughter of the original spelunker and hinted that this time we would be taking to the skies instead of underground.
The original game remains one of the industry’s greatest examples of rogue-like design, where Super Mario-worthy controls were married to fiendishly difficult randomised levels.
We thought Spelunky was consigned to museums, but the sequel has resurrected the series for modernity.
LAST OF US RETURNS
Last, but not least, is The Last of Us 2 – another game about things that won’t stay dead. The Paris Games show revealed the latest trailer for Sony’s mega-sequel.
The trailer didn’t show any gameplay, but it did seem to imply that the protagonist could be a woman this time around, with many people wondering if she could be the mother of Ellie, from the original game.
In the trailer, things don’t start well for the nameless woman, as she is strung up by a noose and left to hang, before her assailant is ambushed and the woman given her freedom.
There isn’t any time for celebration, however, as the trailer finishes with a horde of infected running for the woman and her new companions.
Regardless of your tolerance for the undead, it seems like there’s plenty of life left in zombies for video games, with the trailer receiving a rousing reception from fans in attendance at the show.
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