WayForward is best known for creating titles in their original Shantae and Mighty Switch Force series. I was surprised to learn that WayForward has also created licensed titles for some Marvel franchises and the Adventure Time TV show. I’m usually hesitant to play games that are tied to movies or TV shows but knowing WayForward’s pedigree for making great platformers and their experience with licensed franchises, I expected a polished experience from The Mummy Demastered. Even with several issues, The Mummy Demastered proves to be a solid Metroidvania with a unique twist.
Back From the Dead
The Mummy Demastered is loosely based on the 2017 film, The Mummy. Instead of playing as Tom Cruise, however, you play as the agents of the Prodigium Organization. The modus operandi of the organization is to find, contain, and eliminate evil. Prodigium agents are tasked with defeating Princess Ahmanet, better known as the titular Mummy, before her evil powers grow to threaten the rest of the world.
Polished Pixels in a Modern Era
The most notable aspect of The Mummy Demastered is that its graphics are heavily inspired by games of the 16-bit era. The “demastered” subheading is fully realized with environments, enemy designs, and a soundtrack that are reminiscent of games on the SNES. The blue of the Prodigium agent is easily identifiable, and the enemies are all distinctly and uniquely designed to feel like new and imposing threats. Environments range from dark forests to abandoned subways to city streets ravaged by sandstorms. The presentation is great, and it’s nice to be able to play an old-school like game on a TV screen as well as on a portable device.
Unfortunately, The Mummy Demastered is not entirely polished. The game suffers from frame dips when several enemies appear on the screen. The performance issues get worse when you’re in a boss fight, especially in later boss fights that have more things going on. It never reaches the point where the game feels unplayable, but it is noticeable and might bother some players.
Fighting Evil Sometimes Means Fighting Against Oneself
As far as Metroidvania-type games go, The Mummy Demastered definitely fits the genre. Prodigium agents feel similar to controlling Samus in the Metroid series, without all the acrobatics or the ability to roll into a ball (although you can roll through tight spaces). You’re encouraged to explore the world in order to find weapons, explosives, health/defense/ammo upgrades, and collectible relics. The game is actually not that big, but there is a true sense of exploration when you go through the areas without looking at your map. Enemies are scattered throughout the world and they vary from rats and bugs to mummies and zombie Templars. They add to the overall creepiness of the game and make for a great game to play during the Halloween season.
The Mummy Demastered has a linear element to it in that the game gives you a waypoint after every story sequence to direct where you need to go. It sort of diminishes the whole mysterious, exploration vibe that is inherent in Metroidvania games, but getting to these waypoints is not as simple as getting from point A to point B. Each area introduces you to a new ability, similar to finding an item in a Zelda dungeon, that you use to get to previously inaccessible areas. It’s always great to backtrack and gain access to secret items because you got the ability to hang from the ceiling or blast through a metal door.
The Mummy Demastered features a unique gameplay element that helps it stand out from other Metroidvania games. Prodigium agents are disposable. Once your agent dies on the field, they become possessed by Ahmanet. A new agent is sent down for you to control and you are tasked with killing the possessed agent in order to get your weapons and upgrades. It’s exciting to progress through the game and fight against a stronger, tougher agent you created. You’re essentially fighting yourself, and sometimes you will lose.
The bosses of this game are large, threatening monsters that are inspired by Egyptian mythology. These creatures will test your ability to jump, shoot, and dodge in a variety of ways. Each one features unique attack patterns and arena type stages for fighting. Without a doubt, my favorite part of this game was fighting these bosses by learning their attack patterns and finding out which weapons worked best against them.
The game took me around 5 and a half hours to complete with 80% of the map explored. Even though the “story” itself is quite short, there’s plenty to go back and do if collecting relics, finding weapons, completing all the upgrades, and filling up the map is your thing.
For all that I think The Mummy Demastered does well, I have some issues to discuss; namely with the death/possession system. If you are unable to kill the agent that is carrying your weapons, you are effectively stuck. At one point, I died in a room with dozens of enemies and my possessed agents joined Ahmanet’s army in trying to kill me anytime I entered the area. I was able to defeat my agents and get my items back after several tries, but it was extremely frustrating when I only had my starting weapon and 99 health. Another frustrating element caused by the death/possession system relates to boss battles. When you die in a boss fight, the possessed agent will be waiting in the room prior to the fight. If you don’t want to fight the boss completely naked (even though it’s entirely possible), you have to defeat the possessed agent to get your stuff back. It becomes a frustrating chore having to do this again, especially if you keep failing in the boss fight.
I also experienced two bugs that affected me in the final two bosses of the game. The first bug I encountered prevented me from shooting any of my weapons even though I had ammo for them It was only resolved after the boss killed me. The second bug I encountered was during the final boss, and it pretty much let me freely shoot the boss in the face without it attacking me for the entire duration of the fight. I was not able to reproduce either of them, but we have notified the developers of these bugs with video evidence and other information. They might have been a one-time thing or bugs that happened under specific circumstances.
Despite a few bugs and some frustrating gameplay elements, The Mummy Demastered is a welcome surprise that succeeds in providing a solid Metroidvania experience with challenging boss fights and varied enemies. WayForward did a good job with this game, and it’s monster and mummy inspired enemies are perfect for Halloween. If you’re interested in a short but solid Metroidvania, The Mummy Demastered won’t disappoint. The Mummy Demastered will be available on the Nintendo Switch eShop for $19.99 on October 24, 2017.
Review Copy Provided by WayForward