The Mummy: Demastered is so much better than it deserves to be. The game is a tie-in to Universal’s The Mummy and given the film’s poor reviews I didn’t expect much from anything associated with it. But the moment the chiptune title music and pixelated Universal logo appeared I knew something didn’t quite fit with my expectations.
Developed by WayForward (The same company known for the Shantae series), The Mummy: Demastered takes a bold step and immediately throws the player into a Metroidvania map filled with locations from the film. You’ll also recognize the title villain Ahmanet and Russel Crowe’s pixelated likeness, but that’s where the film similarities end. Instead of playing Tom Cruise’s character you play a disposable grunt sent to clean up the undead menace plaguing London.
As you chase Ahmanet through ruins, sewers, and laboratories, you’ll find the typical slew of upgrades and weaponry. Most allow you to access new areas, but surprisingly a good portion of them are not required to finish the game. This rewards exploration even more than the average Metroidvania and reduces the amount of backtracking that is typical of the genre.
The gameplay is extremely tight and responsive, and some platforming sections will require you to be pixel-perfect as you run and jump your way through environments. Your weapons feel powerful, but the game will still punish you if you act recklessly or rush too quickly through an area.
The game also borrows from the Dark Souls style games by adding a sort of permadeath. Being a disposable grunt, you’re expected to die, and you will eventually. Instead of losing resources, lives, or progress, you actually die and respawn as a fresh soldier with none of the upgrades or equipment you previously had. Thankfully you can hunt down your now-undead teammate and reclaim all these things by gunning yourself down. While this is an interesting and thematic mechanic, it feels unnecessary and just fluffs the length of the game. Even if you die during your corpse run, back to your previous life, you lose nothing and just have to try again while dealing with another new gun-toting zombie. This can get particularly frustrating during boss fights as you don’t respawn with full health or ammo and have to hunt down resources before even attempting the boss again.
Other than their difficulty, the bosses are incredible and feel right at home in both The Mummy universe and a Metroidvania. Ahmanet appears and taunts you before summoning a massive undead minion. The camera zooms out and you instantly know you’re in for a tough fight. These fights also fit the “demastered” theme, doing away with health bars in favor of steadily ramping up their attacks as their huge pixelated bodies glow more and more red.
I was able to complete the main story in under five hours but with some extra exploration the game should clock in at around ten to fifteen hours of content. The pixelated art style and fantastic music will take you right back to a simpler time when every movie could be turned into a side-scrolling shooter, but the punishing difficulty might turn some off. Overall, The Mummy: Demastered is a fantastic movie tie-in, and a pretty good Metroidvania.
The Mummy: Demastered Gets:
4 Out of 5
+Vears from the movie enough to be interesting
+Exploration is rewarded well
+Challenging for those who like a challenge
-Running back to your dead body for supplies can be frustrating
-Some may find the difficulty to high