The Mummy Demastered PC Review
The Mummy Demastered could easily fall between the cracks and go unnoticed; if only for the simple reason it is tied to a terrible movie. That alone should not dissuade possible suitors from giving the game a chance; as history has shown even the worst movies can produce great games. It has happened before, and it will happen again. A notable example that always sticks out in my mind is the hack and slash great that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine by Raven Software; a tie-in that outshone its accompanying film in every way. Demastered is a game that hits similar highs. It has a killer synthy soundtrack too.
Demastered commits to a pixelated look, and religiously sticks to it from the get go. There is a Universal Movies logo as the game boots up, and even that black and white image looks striking in pixel form. The game most certainly harkens back to the 16-bit era for inspiration. The gameplay and color pallet used to set the game’s tone are combos of various titles from well over twenty years ago. Personally I noticed a lot of both Metroid and Contra DNA as I worked through the game. As with many similar releases there is some Castlevania in there too, but I do feel the ideals from Contra are more noticeable than what we’ve seen in Iga’s various efforts. Regardless of where its ideas originated from; Demastered is certainly a good fit for the pseudo-genre that is Metroidvania, but may just be an even better fit in the new notional-genre that is Controidvania.
Even though the game is inspired by the past it is not limited by technology that existed back then. Many elements of Demastered exceed what even the most proficient and talented developer could accomplish on the SNES or Mega Drive. This is most apparent in battles where the screen is filled with huge bosses. A gigantic spider, a monstrous dragon, and more, all match the game’s style so well, but likely would have brought most contemporary consoles to a crawl twenty years ago. Demastered may be open to criticism for being too reliant on nostalgic ideals, and not pushing the genre forward, but it would be wrong to criticize the game for not reaching a goal it never set out to achieve in the first place. It sets up camp firmly in the past and relishes every moment it spends there.
The one area where the game truly innovates is in how it handles death. Instead of simply reloading a save it remembers where you died, and places a high powered zombified version of yourself there for when you return. You must then defeat him with limited weaponry to win back many of the items you unlocked. This high powered human-like character, that is always a more powerful version of yourself when you face him, gave me flashbacks to Samus Aran X in Metroid Fusion – an antagonist I always found terrifying.
Speaking of death, Demastered can be a very challenging game depending on how you choose to tackle it. New abilities are locked behind boss fights – and seem to be unmissable – but weapons, ammo upgrades, and health upgrades are strewn around the map in various rooms. As a result, it is possible to stumble into boss fights underpowered if you’ve not scoured locations thoroughly. Those with a strong completionist tendency will have an easier time conquering Demastered’s foes.
I could probably do my job better and compare elements of Demastered to the self-serious movie it originated from, but to be honest I don’t know enough to begin. It could be argued the game cares little of the movie too – simply matching a few character and location names and not much else. I cannot remember the name of the main protagonist. Maybe it was too mundane, and my brain simply refused to retain it? It’s not Tom Cruise I know that much; and he doesn’t have that weird arm swinging run like he does either. He does swim weird though – I guess all action stars have their quirks pixilated or not.
The forever unknown military guy is a fan of unlocking military stuff, and that’s all you really need to know. He’s not a vampire and/or bounty hunter who loves becoming a ball and/or bat. This makes the unlocks in the game seem more grounded. You gain the ability to climb rocks, jump higher, and run faster – nothing truly outrageous. The more fantastical elements of the game come from the creatures you face. Thankfully, even though the story is mostly throwaway, gameplay is finely tuned. The gratification you earn from advancing, unlocking more skills and weaponry makes the hours fly by. Ultimately, that is what matters most in a game such as this. Demastered gets it right where it counts.
The Mummy Demastered is a retro inspired game good enough to both whet the nostalgic urges of people of a certain age whilst fulfilling the needs of newcomers alike. It’s a game I never knew I wanted but am very happy I’ve now played; as it turned out to be one of the best anachronistic video games money can buy. It may have been spawned solely as a means to promote a movie, but it overcomes those unassuming origins and rises to become a tremendous addition to the Metroidvania genre. Like many of the retro games it shares ideals with I firmly believe I’ll return and replay it years from now when the urge takes hold.