In the grand scheme of things, video games based on movies and television shows don’t have a great track record. Many times the publisher has paid so much to obtain a recognizable license that little money is left to fund an entertaining game. However, every once in a blue moon a developer gets it right and the licensed product turns out to be worth our time. The Mummy Demastered is exactly that game.
So many indie games these days focus on the retro graphical style of the original NES. I’m happy to see that some developers have moved on and are trying to emulate the 16-bit visuals, giving the games more colors and special effects with bigger sprites and more detailed backgrounds. WayForward has taken this approach with The Mummy Demastered. In fact, at first glance you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for an actual Super Nintendo game like Super Turrican or any of the more moody games, such as Super Castlevania IV or Super Metroid. The color palette definitely exudes that 16-bit era and looks great both on the big screen and especially the Switch’s smaller screen where the pixels aren’t so noticeable.
Although this title is based on the recent summer not-so-blockbuster movie, you won’t be controlling Tom Cruise or interacting with any of the cast. Instead this game is more of a complementary product with some very slight connections to The Mummy universe. You play as a generic elite agent belonging to the Prodigium Organization who must investigate supernatural phenomenon. Several other team members have gone ahead to scout the location around your landing zone, but communications have been lost. It’s up to you to find out what happened to them while fending off hordes of possessed beasts. All you know is that the evil Ahmanet is lurking somewhere in the area and that you must put a stop to her nefarious plans.
The game borrows a lot from the games that existed in the 16-bit era. It features a map system and level layout not unlike that seen in Super Metroid. The run and gun nature of the game reminds me a lot of Contra III: The Alien Wars, and some of the settings feel like they could have been taken right out of the Castlevania series. Although the game takes place in London, you’ll be traversing a wide variety of environments, including forests, sewers, and ancient buildings. The game is filled with all sorts of enemies that come at you from all sorts of angles. Luckily you’re able to shoot forward and diagonal while you’re running, but you can also lock your feet and aim in any direction to take out monsters before they get to you. Like any good Metroidvania title, you’ll unlock new weapons and abilities as you journey further into the game. As you progress you’ll come across landing zones that will act as fast travel spots so you can quickly return to areas you’ve visited before to try out your new powers.
One semi-unique feature found in The Mummy Demastered is the idea that your character can permanently die. Well, sort of. What happens is that all of the weapons and powers you’ve accumulated will stay with your fallen soldier, who is resurrected as an evil entity. You’ll respawn as a new character with just the basics that must then go back to the spot you died earlier and gun down your nemesis to regain your abilities. This is very much in the same vein as Zombi U, but I must admit this idea is probably better on paper than execution. It seems to just pad out the death experience and can become quite annoying to have to go back to the same spot and battle yourself.
As we’ve come to expect from this developer, the gameplay mechanics are solid. It’s fun to run and jump and to navigate the game. However, some of the power-ups you end up obtaining are a little strange in execution. Somewhat early in your adventure you’ll get an ability that will allow you to grab the ceiling and move hand over hand to reach new places. The area where you gain this power has rocky ceilings, and you can’t just keep moving across smoothly – making the new power almost useless except in very specific instances. The same clumsiness can be felt later on when you gain the ability to run faster for long jumping. You have to keep running in one direction for it to build up, but many times there are hazards in the way making the timing rather precarious. I guess what I’m trying to say is that in other games gaining these power-ups makes you feel like a badass and they’re fun to play around with. Here they feel like afterthoughts designed for specific areas and it’s not at all fun to mess around with them, which is a shame.
Moving forward in your quest you’ll acquire new weapons and you can cycle through several guns and carry one type of grenade at a time. You’ll come across special rooms that will allow you to change your load out and completely refill your ammunition. The first few guns are pretty standard fare: a slightly upgraded machine gun and a shotgun, but later on you’ll get more fun weapons to play around with. Your basic gun has unlimited ammo, but your special guns will need to be replenished. Much like Metroid, as you defeat enemies they will leave behind energy bubbles to pick up as well as ammo. Other destructible items like crates or piles of sewer trash can be picked over for replenishment as well.
The music is pretty good throughout. At times I thought the song playing, although pleasant, didn’t quite fit the environment I was currently exploring. I expected a bit more moody and creepy soundtrack and instead got mostly upbeat action tracks. This isn’t necessarily a bad decision, but there was a disconnect between the graphics and the music on more than one occasion. Luckily most of the tracks sounded great and I never grew bored with them.
I enjoyed my time with The Mummy Demastered. It’s a fun homage to the games we played 20 years ago, but it doesn’t really do anything revolutionary or even better than those classics we still know and love. The bosses are ripped out of horror movies and can be challenging, but not to the point of frustration. I think most gamers will find something to like here, but I’m not sure it will be remembered or revered as much as the games it’s obviously trying to emulate.
The Mummy Demastered
- Graphics - 8.5/108.5/10
- Sound - 7/107/10
- Gameplay - 8/108/10
- Lasting Appeal - 8/108/10
Final Thoughts: GREAT
The Mummy Demastered is a great game despite having a movie license attached to it. With 16-bit stylized graphics and some interesting areas to explore, it holds up well in a world with plenty of Metroidvania games to choose from. Nothing revolutionary here, but expect a solid experience!