Mulaka had all the potential to be a great action-adventure game with great puzzles and mechanics, but it really blows its wad in the first hour. The combat starts off fairly shallow but acceptable in small fights, with lots of room for improvement. The puzzles are pretty basic, but again, are given room for improvement, they can be expanded upon (not just by making them longer, by making them fuller, more fun). The story is pretty generic, you’re the chosen one, you must gather/meet the 5 blah to defeat the evil blah because the world is ending blah blah blah.
This game just ends up being nothing special, it could have, but it just doesn’t, it never picks up speed. It just peaks as soon as you start the game, none of the abilities that you earn are that fun or exciting. The first ability that you get is being able to transform into a bird to glide after you jump, but there’s multiple areas where you could just use a double jump.
I can fix this issue so easily, all you have to do is make the jump button do a double jump if you press it twice, and make the run button the glide button as long as you’re in the air. I can’t tell you how many times I instinctively hit the button twice to double jump over an enemy attack and end up stuttering in midair by turning into a bird and then back into a human.
The other abilities are almost entirely situational, solely for getting you across certain rivers or for jumping up steep slopes. They also add slight tweaks to things you can already do, like changing your running attack or being able to freeze vines. They’re just nothing, they feel so pointless, and really undermine how special the hand-painted cutscenes that you watch when you get them.
The fighting itself gets so frustrating and boring so fast, that by the end of the game I didn’t want any more small fights, I just wanted the game to end. There aren’t enough enemies that are fun to fight, and sometimes they throw four or five different enemies at you and it’s just not fun. Not to mention, every time you lose one of your health diamonds (like hearts from Zelda), you have to pause for a few seconds while your soul gets sucked out of your body. And when you heal yourself it takes even longer because you have to drink your potion and dance and get your soul chunk back.
If I can say anything, it’s that they polygonal cel-shaded look of the game seemed like a good idea, but it’s not pulled off as well as something like Wind Waker. Not only that, but you would think that a game that looks as simple as this, with so little detail in a lot of the textures would run well. It’s got no excuse to not run at LEAST in 30fps, but it can’t even do that sometimes, this game actually chugs into the low 20’s sometimes, and that’s on an Xbox One X.
The most powerful game console available.
I get that it’s an indie game, thus it’s not made by a big studio, but that’s not an excuse anymore. If your game isn’t running completely properly, don’t release it, fix it. I know we live in the day and age of “ship it, then fix it”, but when you’re a small studio and have a really small window to impress people, first impressions count. I’ve seen a lot of 8/10’s for this game, and I don’t understand how that’s even possible, this game is not nearly original enough, fun enough, or pretty enough for that. I get that Mulaka was likely a passion project for somebody, but if it was that much of a passion, I would have liked to see it actually run well or be fun for more than an hour.
I feel kinda bad, but I can’t recommend this game to anyone except for maybe kids because it’s fairly kid-friendly. For everyone else, wait till it’s like five bucks, if you really wanna play a game based on ancient Mexican Mythology, which is probably one of the few cool parts of the game.
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