One problem with so many games releasing is finding a way to stand out. Interesting ideas have been repeated, certain ideas were proven unsuccessful, forcing developers to get creative. While La-Mulana doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it offers a bunch of puzzles that reward those who pay attention and punish those who don’t. It’s different enough to be memorable, but is that enough to sell the game or is that all there is to it? Here’s our La-Mulana 1 & 2 Review.
There is a surprisingly deep story in La-Mulana. A celestial being has known simply as Mother ends up trapped on Earth. To get her back to the sky, she created various generations of children to come up with a way to return her home. After multiple failed attempts, the seventh generation withheld this information so the next generation could put an end to the cycle. As you progress, not only do more pieces come together, you eventually learn the secret of what La-Mulana actually is.
In La-Mulana 2, the adventure continues with the daughter of Lemeza Kosugi, who was the main character in the original adventure, as she explores Eg-Lana in hopes of finding out why monsters and other things are now making themselves known. It all concludes in a rather interesting way, assuming you put in the time.
Where both La-Mulana 1 & 2 falls short is presentation. Unless you want to figure out the story and all the details, you’re simply going to go through a number of random and confusing events. Everything is presented in a vague and roundabout way, that rewards those who take notes or reads into every comment and punish those who might skip a vender or two. It’s important to know this in advance, as this core mentality is also present in gameplay too.
Since both games are part of the metroidvania genre, a good amount of time will be spent backtracking. It doesn’t matter if you’re on the right or wrong path, as there will typically be barriers that prevent you from progressing, ultimately forcing you to eventually find your way. The downside to this style of gameplay is that it can be a waste of time and sometimes you simply can’t solve the puzzle you’re working on. You might need a rune or possibly a certain item if you want to progress and until you figure this out, it will be an endless loop of failure.
This would honestly be fine if La-Mulana 1 & 2 were more engaging titles. Most of your adventure will come down to whipping various enemies and paying attention to their patterns. Nothing terribly complex but at the same time, not very engaging either. For most of the adventure enjoyment hinges on whether or not you find yourself invested in the core story or puzzles. For those that fall in that cross-section, it can be a wondrous experience that refuses to hold your hand or give you a break but for everyone else it’s a platformer where you occasionally whip enemies, fall into a trap that puts you in a disadvantage or fight foes that are difficult due to the controls and nothing else.
La-Mulana 1 & 2 Verdict
Naturally, this makes it a hard sell, something the pixel art does not help with, resulting in an experience that really caters to a specific demographic. You have to understand what you’re getting into and your enjoyment will hinge on whether you picked correctly or not. Even with a guide, things can be rather confusing, as the presentation of the map doesn’t quite make a ton of sense with the maps shown online. It’s entirely possible to follow a guide or figure it out but La-Mulana 1 & 2 requires a bit more of an investment that most are likely willing to give.
[Editor’s Note: La-Mulana 1 & 2 was reviewed on the PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]