Work of the Mexican developer Lienzo, Mulaka is an action and adventure game based on the rich mythology of the Rarámuri culture, originally from the mountains of Chihuahua in northern Mexico. Mulaka is a beautiful journey with an important hidden social message in a too ambitious format for your benefit. With a hidden educational potential, Mulaka aims to raise awareness about the customs of a society that has preserved its heritage through the years with relative success. However, throughout this adventure we will discover that taking great industry legends as inspiration is not always good news and, on occasion, it is a double-edged sword.
MulakaIt belongs to the action and adventure genre and is of the most classic cut where you explore great thematic scenarios that culminate with an imposing confrontation against a boss. For example, the first level is amazing because of its large desert areas where it is common to run without destination until some prominent structure catches your attention; This initial sequence shines for its great values and foundations in the design of levels that invite you to explore the stage and enjoy the views. I do not lie when I say that you will stop more than once to admire the glorious scenarios. Unfortunately, this feeling that motivates you to investigate ends as soon as it starts because the linear structure of the levels comes before your amazement,
Mulaka shines through a couple of really impressive and memorable sequences that tell the moments of true inspiration of the Lienzo team. I can refer to the great ascent of a mountain where the mechanics combine masterfully with the gigantic stage and the skills of Mulaka; Another jewel within the game is a fight against a huge boss – there are several of these encounters – where you must scale your body as part of combat mechanics. These moments of genius are those that you will keep in your memory once you finish with Mulaka , because its execution is excellent and the challenges are admirable.
The combat system is simple. Here the character uses 2 magnitudes of blow: weak and strong. With the weak blow the fast sequences that inflict considerable damage and the strong blows -as you can hope- are slow, but empty the health of the enemies besides breaking their defense when they have a shield. You also have a command to dodge, with which the character takes a step to the sides to avoid sources of damage. Also, as the character is a Sukurúame (shaman or sorcerer), go to the demigods and get their powers that serve as tools to combat and explore the scenario, as well as having a spiritual vision that reveals platforms and hidden spirits. Nevertheless,
In this way, the dynamics of the combat is sufficiently entertaining and, strangely enough, it is the most redeemable of the experience thanks to the fact that the combat fundamentals are solid; that is, the dynamics feels good, has good controls and is fun, but the technical execution of other sections linked to it left much to be desired and did not allow it to excel. For example, it is a pity that the game never teaches the variations of blows of the system of combos (until it offers an achievement to use them all), so the most probable is that you arrive at the end only with the 2 standard varieties. However, it is not even necessary to learn the rest of the attacks because enemies and artificial intelligence never demand enough to want to deviate from what you know.
Another flaw in the technical execution has to do with the potions that you prepare. They are 4: one brew cures you, another is an explosive grenade, another protects you with a shield and the last one allows you to hit quickly. This system has no place in combat because it is situational. You will see: every time you use a potion the character starts dancing, which leaves him exposed and it is worse against the bosses, since with the dances you can lose the timing of the mechanics of combat. There are even completely useless and situational potions that you use a handful of times throughout the game.
The bosses may be the most enjoyable section of the game. Here you can fight big battles against giant opponents that come to occupy the full screen and have the ability to keep you on the edge of control thanks to its diverse and entertaining mechanics. For example, there is a confrontation against a great spirit where the movement mechanics of the character are effectively combined with the platforms and the vision gimmicks. But it is not the only one, throughout the experience you will be amazed by the magnitude of certain bosses and you will wonder how to defeat them thanks to their excellent level of difficulty, although there are also bosses with awkward results.
Regarding the graphic aspect, Mulaka employs a kind of low poly effect well achieved to a certain extent. The almost endless views of the desert are worthy of praise for the careful choice of the dune shades and because they provoke a sense of overwhelming initial scale. However, this same artistic effect takes its toll on the rest of the delivery when the scenarios evolve and are shown with a single tonality to the point where it is almost impossible to distinguish where a platform ends and a cliff begins. It is unfortunate that sometimes everything looks flat, empty and with only one color.
We understand that the purpose of Mulaka is to open a window to an ancestral culture in danger and expose their cultural skills with a certain degree of effectiveness. In this way, we liked the beginning of the game because it presents the mythological beings of the Rarámuri and the way they see the world, because it allowed us to perceive it as a delivery located in a completely new fantasy universe. However, there are elements of the Rarámuri culture that are half exposed and we believe that the level design was not used properly to exploit the feeling of amazement to educate the players. For example, there are fragments of culture hidden throughout the maps in a secondary activity linked to a cryptic stamp album where you must do backtracking to find them.
Mulaka is a very ambitious game that aims to evoke specific feelings in the player, however, constantly falls short when trying to excel. We feel that it stands out as a combat game thanks to its solid action foundations, but it is a pity that the game is adventure and exploration. In the future we would like to see a delivery that is fully focused on the action that takes advantage of the lessons learned in this project. Finish Mulaka will take a couple of hours and you can enjoy it in small doses because its educational nature works if you have the necessary resistance to pass the levels and challenges flat.