As video games evolve, so do their importance. The majority of games out there today revolve around completely fictional characters and stories, but with the rise of the indie gaming scene we’ve seen more titles take on a more historical role, as seen in games like Wulverblade. Now we have Mulaka, a game that incorporates the historical tales and culture of the Tarahumara tribe of northern Mexico. The result is a game based both in reality and the fantastical, as we learn about gods and the powers they possess. Of course this is still a game and it features the key ingredients needed to create a fun experience, but it never hurts to have some educational material mixed in.
You play as Mulaka, a spear-wielding warrior that must defend his world from the darkness. You start off with a basic move set and your attacks revolve around light and heavy swings of your spear. Each time you kill an evil creature you store a small amount of energy. Once the gauge is filled you can unleash a special attack that will often devastate all of the enemies around you. As you progress through the various levels you’ll gain new abilities that will allow you to reach new places. You’ll want to backtrack to previous levels to locate all of the items in the game. There are orbs to collect from defeating enemies and destroying things like pots that you can then spend to upgrade a small skill tree, making Mulaka even stronger. You’ll also be able to pick certain vegetation to create healing potions and bombs – so there’s some collecting elements present here as well.
Each stage is linearly revealed on a map. Most areas are about the same size, which you can usually explore how you see fit. Most of the time your goal is to find three special gems that act as keys to open a door. Once this is achieved you’ll usually do battle with a gigantic beast to conquer the level. This type of rinse and repeat level design is a bit disappointing in execution, but the intriguing story and fun gameplay mechanics kept my attention. My only real complaints are the lack of innovative puzzles to solve and the constant kill rooms that you come across – where you’re blocked in by a barrier and must defeat all of the foes before you can move on. This became tiresome and I wish the developers could have made these encounters more unique.
From the get-go we’re treated to a very striking and minimalistic art style that really sets this game apart from so many others. The vibrant colors and the use of flat polygon landscapes and creatures are simply stunning. Each level features different environments, special effects, and various enemies to defeat. With a near-solid framerate that almost never stutters, this is a game that not only looks good now, but will undoubtedly impress years later, similar to how games like Windwaker remind timeless. The music only adds to the on-screen action with a traditional flair not heard in other software.
Mulaka excels at keeping each world looking fresh and exciting. Some of the new abilities and power-ups throughout are fun to mess around with, even if they are a little underused throughout the adventure. I appreciated the inclusion of a tribal culture and hope more games continue to broaden our minds in this way. The game has impeccable controls, especially when jumping from platform to platform – not something that’s easy to do in a 3D environment. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in this world and think you will too!
- Graphics - 8/108/10
- Sound - 9/109/10
- Gameplay - 9/109/10
- Lasting Appeal - 8/108/10
Final Thoughts: GREAT
If you like adventure games that put an emphasis on combat and feature unique visuals, great tunes, and a one of a kind story, then Mulaka is made for you. It’s a surprisingly fresh take on a well-established genre.
Mulaka was reviewed using a final retail Nintendo Switch download code provided by the publisher.
Craig has been covering the video game industry since 1995. His work has been published across a wide spectrum of media sites. He’s currently the Editor-In-Chief of Nintendo Times and contributes to Gaming Age.