Format reviewed: Steam/PC
Other formats available: Switch, PS4, XBox One
Website: Official Website
“A powerful ancient evil has arisen, and the war to save humanity has begun!
The Mummy Demastered throws you into a 16-bit-inspired battle against the undead in a 2D, nonlinear, action-packed adventure. As an elite agent in the monster-hunting Prodigium organization, you must use a variety of weapons, upgrades, and magical artifacts to defend mankind against the supernatural hordes of Princess Ahmanet. Your Prodigium teammates are already on the scene, but HQ lost contact with them hours ago; only by exploring tombs, forests, abandoned tunnels, and the cursed streets of London will you discover the fate of your allies. But beware – Ahmanet commands legions of zombies, insects, plague-ridden vermin, and worse… and if you’re not careful, you’ll be the next soul in Ahmanet’s thrall.”
Let’s get one thing straight, this is not a Metroidvania game, it’s a straight-up clone of Super Metroid from the beloved SNES console. It plays in all the right ways that the classic title did in years gone bye. There may be more of a focus on the shooting, but that only adds to the frenetic, explosive nature of the exploration on offer in The Mummy Demastered.
Starting a new game and movement is either D-Pad (retro-glorious) or digitally via the analgoue stick. The main character can duck.; roll, like a morph ball; jump, very responsively to duration based height and mid air controllability makes horizontal traversal a synch; and shoot in 8 directions by pushing the appropriate direction on the controller. There is a handy lock-in feature where pressing the ZR/ZL shoulder button locks the player in position so shooting can commence in all eight directions without the player walking to their death off a cliff. And, very handily the screen scrolls in the dircection the player shoots allowing for a greater view of distant objects and enemies. So far, so Metroid. That even goes without mentioning the first level, Metroid fans will double take when certain events occur.
The feeling of character movement and the control inputs are not the only similarities that you’ll encounter within this game. The sense of building an atmosphere through music and eerie sound effects is all present and correct. The Mummy Demastered has one of the best 16-bit style chip-tune soundtracks that this author has ever paid attention to. And, it’s not hard to pay attention to this beauty. It all hearkens to that feeling of playing an old-school SNES game, within the 80’s and 90’s. The music is totally consistent with Schwarzenegger movies, 80’s/90’s sci-fi movies, and the games that co-inhabited that space. It’s all so atmospheric.
The 16-bit styled sprite drawn characters are beautifully chunky and convey a great sense of movement and animation, this goes for all the enemies, too. The layered backgrounds just add to the eerie sound and place your character in a vibrantly detailed world, that of which you will want to see more of the various locales. It’s a shame that the between level sprite-artwork, cutscence type scenarios, loses that sense of eeire abandonment of the levels. The artwork is far too cheerfully colourful and Saturday morning cartoon cheesy that it clashes with the in-game visuals immensely.
The map, a staple of Metroid games, is suitably copied. It’s square structure can be glimpsed with a quick press of the – button, and conveys all the information that you’ve already seen, or unlocked with a handy map-room update. Save Rooms, Ammo-Cache Rooms, Way-Points, Fast-Travel Points, etc., can all be easily located via the colour coded legend. The only things not to been seen on the map are the secret rooms’ entrances. These are visible to your eye, but are not depicted on the map in any form. This makes re-traversal of the games’ large map, a staple of this type of game, a feat of memory as much as anything else, and there are a lot of inacessible areas, whether they be by weapon or Ability.
Collectible Scrolls, named Artifacts, add extra abilities to your charcters roster of moves, hanging off of ceilings, running speed, jumping height, all and more can be upgraded to allow access to areas that were previously inaccessible. In addition to these, there are many other collectibles that will do such things as increase ammo, but also Relics that just need collecting 50 times.
Your initial level will be constantly interrupted by your superior sending text messages on screen to you, reminding your hard-assed, well trained marine, how to jump, shoot, etc. If you happen to stay in the same area for a little too long the message will repeat itself. Again and again, interrupting you, and not really allowing you to practice what you’ve just learnt. Start to make some progress, and upgrades to your weapons include; grenades, that allow access to previously blocked walls and doors, some more obvious than others; and main weapons, such as machine guns, flamethrowers, and shotguns, all easily changed via a cycling button press, not so easily done during a heated boss battle though. Your character can equip 3 main weapons, including your starting infinite bullet shooter, and a single grenade type at any one time. If your advancement requires something of a different nature then you’ll need to acquire the services of a weapon cache room that allows the ability to switch to another weapon set-up.
Health comes in chunks of 99, that can be upgraded one chunk at a time by collecting Health Packs, or replenished by enemies kill-drops. Once your character has upgraded a certain weapon, then the indiginous monsters will drop supplies for those, too. Fortunately, or not, enemies regenerate between screens, so it’s possible, though a time-consuming one, to choose a nice area for farming health and weapon necessities, before a nasty encounter.
It is a challenging game, the generic screen traversal features enemies that slowly whittle your health away, but with perserverance and patience it’s possible to become a total over powered bad-ass that blasts everything away in your path until, that is, a boss. Huge screen-filling monstrosities that require memory, pattern recognition and patience to defeat. This is where an idea from Zombi U rears its head. Die in The Mummy Demastered and your cadaver springs back into lumbering zombie action. Upon restarting the action, you’ll notice that your character has now been stripped of all power-ups, health upgrades, weapons, everything. You are back to the basic starting marine of the first minutes of the game. It is now your task to track down your previous walking corpse and take them down, they fight back mind, and in many instances there may a long arduous trek through tough enemies to even arrive at the correct location. Upon first sight, this mechanic seems a fascinating addition to the game, but after 20 minutes of trying to recover your fallen hero’s gear, and amassing 4 or 5 undead to kill in the same area, can be a frustrating waste of time and an annoying sidequest when all you want to do is approach the boss again. And, when you meet that boss again, yes, you’ll have to watch that cutscene all over again, and again, and again, there’s no skip function on offer here.
WayForward have created a great game in The Mummy Remastered, but only if you like Metroid, especially Super Metroid. Slightly more emphasis on a run and gun type of game than its predecessors allows for more frenetic fast paced action, but everything else is a paint-by-numbers exploration. A well-crafted and thoroughly enjoyable Metroid-styled 2D action/exploration platformer, just don’t expect anything out of the ordinary.
Review by Lee Davies for Nintendo: Review.