Tom Cruise's The Mummy was not the best movie, and it might have sunk Universal's plans at a connected monster movie universe. But something good came from it, because WayForward has turned that film into a surprisingly great Metroidvania platformer called The Mummy Demastered.
Back in the eighties and nineties, action and horror movies often received platforming videogame adaptations. Many of these like Judge Dredd and Alien 3 also featured run-and-gun shooting. Now WayForward, publisher of the excellent Mystic Belle and Shantae games, resurrects that tradition with this videogame based on the Tom Cruise Mummy movie – of all things. But don't worry, you need not have seen the movie to enjoy this adventure.
In The Mummy Demastered, you'll play as a Prodigium agent – an elite soldier who works for Dr. Jekyll's monster-hunting organization. The game starts with your agent investigating a disturbance in Iraq that has killed a squad of his fellow soldiers. After exploring the monster-infested cave, our hero soon encounters the titular female mummy Ahmanet. At this point, she looks like a demon, but she'll take on her more feminine form from the movie as the game progresses.
After summoning a horde of monsters, Ahmanet cuts and runs – something she'll do several times throughout the game (she's not the only boss you'll fight). Besides these brief interludes, the only story you'll encounter is text-based dialog delivered by Dr. Jekyll upon reaching new areas another milestones. The minimalist narrative might disappoint some, but it's perfectly in tune with the classic licensed games Demastered intends to evoke.
Rise from your gwave
Having defeated the first batch of monsters summoned by the mummy, your soldier must escape from the cavern. You get an Achievement for a successful escape. But you'll also win an Achievement for dying there, which introduces one of Demastered's more interesting mechanics.
Should you die in this game, your original character doesn't respawn. Instead, you'll take over as a new and underequipped agent. To get your stuff back, you'll have to return to where your previous character died and fight his reanimated corpse. The mechanic works a lot like the respawning in Ubisoft's Zombi and the Dark Souls series.
Of course, The Mummy Demastered has an Achievement for not dying at all, so a proper playthrough will skip over the resurrection mechanic entirely. You can copy and then resume your save file to make that process easier. But many gamers will find this game to be a challenge regardless, as it certainly demands shooting and platforming precision – just not as much as required by Cuphead.
Mummy meets Metroidvania
The Mummy Demastered plays like a Metroidvania game. In other words, it's an exploration-focused 2D platformer. Your agent begins with a single gun with unlimited ammo. He can aim in any direction or hold one of the triggers to lock himself in place for precision aiming. The hero also comes equipped with a roll maneuver for dodging and passing under low ceilings.
As you explore Demastered's monster-infested world, you'll find more equipment such as health and ammo upgrades, artifacts that grant new powers, and collectible Relics (there are 50 to find, argh). Our hero also picks up new guns that deal extra damage but only have limited ammunition. Defeated enemies and broken objects will randomly drop ammo, but the regular gun with its unlimited ammo is generally good enough to take on non-boss foes anyway.
WayForward is no stranger to Metroidvanias and platformers, so The Mummy Demastered features most of the polish you'd expect from a good one. For instance, finding a helicopter landing zone will let you fast travel to other zones, cutting down on backtracking. You can also save your game at the computer terminals found in safe rooms, just like in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.
The one gameplay hitch involves restoring your health. Unlike SOTN and most Metroidvanias with save points, saving your game does not restore your health. To do that, you'll basically need to destroy breakable objects and enemies (both of which respawn upon reentering a room) until they drop enough health orbs to fix your agent up. The process is grindy and shows a lack of respect for players' time – WayForward really should make save points heal the hero.
Retro looks to kill
Besides the obvious appeal of a Universal Monsters-themed Metroidvania game, a big part of The Mummy Demastered's charm comes from its looks. The art style closely resembles those of classic 16-bit licensed games, with sharp pixel art, deeply layered backgrounds, and lots of colors. Demastered's music is less memorable but still evokes the feeling of a 16-bit game.
Whether or not you care for Tom Cruise's ill-advised Mummy movie, The Mummy Demastered is still worth a look. It's the sort of loosely adapted licensed game that we don't see much anymore. With great looks, fun exploration-based gameplay, and challenging shooting-based combat, most Metroidvania fans will get their money's worth as they try to master The Mummy Demastered.
- WayForward has taken something based on a dud of a movie and turned it into a fun game!
- Great 16-bit art style that evokes classic licensed games.
- Exploring vast areas, searching for upgrades, and blasting baddies never gets old.
- Save points don't restore health, forcing players to grind for life refills.
- Could use more bosses.
- The loading time upon entering each room is slightly too long.
The Mummy Demastered costs $19.99 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Steam.
Xbox One review copy provided by the publisher.
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