A (de)Masterful Experience
The Mummy Demastered places you into the shoes of an agent employed by Prodigium, a worldly yet mysterious corporation tasked with studying and understanding the forces of darkness. This experience has properly prepared them to subdue or contain these dark forces, should they pose a threat to mankind. At the offset of this adventure, said soldier is sent on his very first mission for his new employer. Under the sands of Iraq, a ground team sent to investigate an excavated tomb has gone quiet. In what may be the worst first-day-of-work scenario, you have been tasked with locating them and re-establishing communication.
After walking across scores of dead soldiers, you quickly learn that things have taken a turn for the worst. You discover that the mummified princess, Ahmanet, has risen from the dead, and is determined to make mankind fall under her heel. Suddenly, you are forced to make a great escape as the previously deceased agents have arisen and are out for your blood. Now the journey begins to locate and apprehend Ahmanet before her dastardly plan can be brought to fruition.
Run Home to your Mummy
Based loosely on the 2017 film of the same name, it would be understandable for you to be initially put off by the title. However, you would be wise to give this game a closer look. Developed by the game-crafting geniuses at WayForward, chiseled pretty boy chins are swapped with military grade weaponry and dramatic scene transitions are replaced with a quality side-scrolling experience that beautifully melds run and gun gameplay with beloved Metroidvania exploration elements. Initially armed with a submachine gun touting unlimited ammo, our lone agent will roam through seven different environments, mowing down baddies ranging from not-so-harmless woodland creatures, to cave bats, to reanimated skeleton corpses and more.
Your arsenal grows well beyond the default submachine gun, as you eventually find up to seven different firearms and up to three different grenade weapons. Grenades can be used in combat, but are also used to destroy breakable doors and walls in order to locate a cornucopia of hidden items. Player enhancements come in the form of scrolls, which bestow various map traversal abilities such as swimming, and trinkets, which provide different buffs to the player such as an increase to your attack or defense ability. Lastly, there are the typical collectibles to be scavenged including health kits to extend your health meter, and bandoleers to increase your maximum ammo capacity.
Reading all of that may have lead you to believe that this game will be a walk in the tomb, but you would be sorely mistaken because The Mummy Demastered wants you, very much, to die as often as possible. First and foremost, there are absolutely no health recharge stations in this game. Even defeating bosses doesn’t completely restore your health. Minor health pick-ups and finding each of the game’s health kits are the only ways for you to restore your life. Secondly, while you eventually develop a large arsenal, you are unable to carry it all around with you at one time. Scattered throughout the game’s environments are ammo caches where you are able to refill all of your ammunition and swap your loadout. You max out at your submachine gun, two limited ammo weapons, and one type of grenade.
Boss fights are also pretty challenging. Ahmanet will, on occasion, summon an Egyptian horror to come to her aid by battling you while she retreats to continue restoring her former power. These bosses have some pretty fun patterns for you to learn, and can soak up an absurd amount of damage. Each boss fight will cause you to exhaust every bullet in your arsenal. Each missed shot penalizes you with that much more time having to battle using the submachine gun. The bosses also don’t possess health bars. Instead, they make use of color changing to indicate how much damage they’ve taken. Unfortunately, this eventually results in you screaming for the boss to die as he continues to fly around in a blood red fit of rage looking no closer to death than forty seconds prior.
Prepare to die… a lot!
Lastly, there is the game’s rather unique way of handling your death. Should you succumb to the malice of Ahmanet’s forces, you are returned to the last station where you saved your game. However, you will be in control of a new Prodigium agent sent by HQ to pick up where the previous agent left off. As for the previous agent, he is now amongst the living dead sworn to maim all that threaten Ahmanet’s plans. Marked on the player map by a skull, he paces waiting for you to visit his location where he will then proceed to attack you using ALL of the upgrades that were in your possession when you originally died.
In order to retrieve your weapons, health, and ammo upgrades after you die, you have to actually track down and kill your previous player character! Depending on what weapons you were wielding when you died this could prove to be very challenging! And should that undead agent kill you again you’ll then have TWO zombie gunners to contend with upon your revisit, along with an even further depleted arsenal. I don’t even want to think about how this would play out if you manage to be killed during a boss battle. I can imagine many players taking it upon themselves to duplicate their save files at different stages of their run-throughs in order to limit having to face their reanimated failings as much as possible.
That’s a Wrap
Now, I don’t want all of what I said above to dissuade you from giving The Mummy Demastered a try. Ultimately, even with all of the challenge that this game offers up, it is fair in what it expects of the player’s skillset. The controls are very responsive, and I never once felt like I could attribute a mishap to shoddy game input. The music in the game was a treat to my ears throughout my playthrough, though I would be lying to myself if I denied the fact that Virt’s absence from a WayForward game is noticeable. Still, newcomer “Monomer” is no slouch either. A number of quality tracks exist in this title with a few managing to burrow earworms into my brain for off-play listening.
It also isn’t a huge investment of time. I managed to clock about 6 hours with 100% map completion and all of the game’s collectibles. Of course, I’m uncertain as to whether or not this clock reading accounts for time spent dying and coming back for more. Unfortunately, this game doesn’t offer anything in the form of replay unless you would like to try playing through again for all of the items or to complete the game with fewer deaths under your belt. But, when all is said and done, if you are a fan of 2D platforming, map exploration and gun games akin to classics like Contra then I believe that you would have a great time with this game. For the asking price of $20, you would likely get more bang for your buck in entertainment playing this over going to see the actual movie.
FINAL VERDICT: 4/5
Available on: PC (Reviewed), Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One ; Publisher: WayForward ; Developer: WayForward ; Players: 1 ; Released: October 24, 2017 ; ESRB: E10+, for everyone ages 10+ ; MSRP: $19.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a copy of The Mummy Demastered given to Hey Poor Player by the Developer