Movie-based tie ins are quite notorious for being rushed in time to compliment the film on opening day. It has been quite seldom that games based off films have turned out to be worthwhile experiences for fans of the film in question, gamers, or both (although Sunsoft cranked out a ton of incredible titles throughout the late 80’s and early 90’s, including NES games based on Batman as well as Gremlins 2). That is partially why I was skeptical about The Mummy: Demastered. Not only was it based off a film I haven’t seen (or care to for that matter), but as someone who has been playing games for almost twenty years…I’m used to licensed games being mediocre. But, after seeing the positive press and finding out that this was developed by WayForward (who have made a ton of fantastic games over the years, most notably the Shantae series), I decided to pull the trigger and get it for Switch.
The Mummy: Demastered is a Metroidvania style action platformer (which, if WayForward’s track record is anything to go by, is something this company is really good at cranking out) with 16 bit graphics. Your character handles quite similarly to Samus from Metroid or the android from Super Turrican. Initially, you can run, jump, and fire in eight directions. Of course, with this being a Metroidvania, exploration is encouraged and you’ll pick up more weapons and abilities along the way (as well as relics and items that bost your maximum health). It doesn’t seem to be doing anything new for the genre, and after spending countless hours with the recent Shantae titles, I didn’t find myself having trouble figuring out where to go thanks to a similar map and navigation system.
I also really dig the pixel graphics (again, something Wayforward is good at doing) and atmosphere presented. It’s quite the contrast to the light fantasy/anime style the developer went with for Shantae with its dark, grimy setting and the clouds of fog sifting through the foregrounds and backgrounds.
Death in The Mummy: Demastered is handled a bit differently from what I’ve come to expect from this genre. Instead of just being booted back to the last Save Room, I was tasked with tracking down the zombified corpse that hung out close to my point of defeat and killing it in order to get back all of the pickups I had acquired up to that point. Two hours in and one boss defeated, I only had to do this once and didn’t find it all that difficult to take the corpse down and reclaim my goodies. That said, I have a feeling that this mechanic is going to prove more frustrating than fun once I sink more time in and wind up dying more.
My other complaint is that the level design and enemy placement aren’t as tight as other Metroidvania games. A number of enemies like to hang just outside the reach of your gun, making it difficult to find a position to fire from without taking damage in the process. Damage also knocks you back considerably, which wouldn’t be all that frustrating if it weren’t for the fact that some enemies respawn infinitely (such as the bats, which also fire at you as well as dart across the screen in a snake-like fashion) in areas that require scaling a lengthy vertical shaft. It’s annoying, but not necessarily a deal breaker for me.
Aside from the strange corpse-hunting mechanic that results after dying and some amateur-ish design choices, I’m having fun with The Mummy: Demastered and haven’t found much reason to regret paying the $19.99 asking price. It’s clearly not of the same caliber as some of the company’s other games, but still an enjoyable experience thus far.