Mulaka Xbox One Review
Mulaka is a 3D adventure game based on the Tarahumara culture. This culture is located in the north of Mexico, and the game shows us a bit of their history, legends and mythology. You put on the shoes of a Sukurúame, the titular character of the game, Mulaka, and you go through a journey around different parts of North Mexico trying to fight your way to save the world. This is an original themed adventure, but it has familiar mechanics – if you played games like The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask, you’ll understand the controls well. You can feel the influence those games have on Mulaka, but it doesn’t feel like a copy, which makes it an enjoyable experience to the end.
The story follows Mulaka, a Sukúrame or shaman of the Tarahumara people. From the start, you appear at a desert, you have no idea who you are or why are you there, but step by step, the game starts explaining to the player what is going on. The Apocalypse and destruction of the world as we know it is coming, and it’s your duty to stop it. Sounds like a big deal, and it’s so big that you need help of the demigods, ancient beings that will aid you with their power to stop the evil forces and give the world a second chance. The story here is of legends, but is very well explained. I did run into a strange issue. On my playthrough I met a bug that made all the English subtitles of the text just disappear. There is some voice acting, but the issue appears on the Tarahumara language, which adds more realism to the game, but since I don’t know that language I needed the subtitles. This happened at the end of the game, so I didn’t understood what happened with the story, but restarting the game and continuing on my last save file fixed this. It was something that spoiled the adventure, but got fixed easy – it should be patched soon.
The moment I started playing, the first thing that came to mind was how the controls work. It felt so familiar since I always played and loved The Legend of Zelda games, but at the same time, with the different abilities, potions and movements, it still came across as refreshing. You get into the action fast, there are different enemies, depending on the different regions or levels that gives life and diversity to the world. Every time you encounter a new enemy, there is an explanation of where the enemy comes from, what is it and why it exists, giving the player a good piece of information to learn about this culture. The enemies go from scorpions jumping at you (if in real life a scorpion jumps at me, I don’t think I would try to hit it with a spear, I would run for my life), spiritual beings that attack, toads that try to eat you, mantis people, etc. Another bug appeared while fighting a boss that was a gigantic toad when one of its minions swallowed me. When I got out of the mouth of the enemy, there were no more enemies – even the boss disappeared – so I had to restart my game and try again. I got a little frustrated, but I hope they can fix this issue, it happened only once, but if it happened to me, it can happen to anyone.
There are different potions that can assist you in battle, from the usual health potion, to a shield or attack speed and strength. Also there is a spirit eye or Sukúrame Vision, which lets you see hidden objects, invisible enemies and also ghosts. You can throw your spear, a ranged attack that is usually used on a couple of enemies. Mulaka has some puzzles that put a hinder on your journey, and even though they are not hard, they do reward with satisfaction when overcoming them. Each encounter with a Demigod offers a new ability. This revolves around transforming into different animals that can help with enemies, boss fights and puzzles. When you defeat the enemies, you earn Korima, which is the currency of the game. Abilities are upgraded with this, but it doesn’t feel necessary. If they added the chance to buy upgrades to different levels and also buy combos like in a hack/slash game, it could have been more attractive, but for the moment, I only upgraded once and then forgot about it.
The game appears to look rather poor in terms of graphic quality, but the game uses a low-poly visual aesthetic and it is portrayed in a wonderful way. Every environment feels alive and beautiful, it respects the scenery and represents the culture as it’s supposed to be. There were only a couple of levels featuring big empty spaces, something that the low-poly art couldn’t fill the gap, it just looked flat and empty, but besides those parts, it looks great.
Music and sound effects are based on the Tarahumara. You can hear the cultural instruments as part of the game and it synchronizes well. At some points, mostly at the beginning of a couple of songs, it sounds simple and plain, but as it progresses, it becomes a living thing, something that makes the world more interactive and appealing.
Mulaka is not a perfect game, but it makes sure to show the uniqueness of the Tarahumara culture and demonstrate that Mexican culture can be interesting. Mulaka follows an entertaining story, with a good formula for its controls and mechanics, and while it may have some flaws, it isn’t anything that should spoil the overall experience. The sound and visuals match each other, letting the player become hypnotized in Mulaka‘s world until the game ends, which takes around 6-8 hours (depending if you want all the collectibles or not). Mulaka is a fun little game that I say is worth your time for anyone into action/adventure games.