By Michael Fontanini / September 28th, 2018
|Release Date||July 30th, 2018|
|Genre||Action, Adventure, Indie, Metroidvania, Difficult|
Lumisa Kosugi’s archeologist father, Lamesa, had previously sealed away the force behind the La-Mulana ruins, but now monsters have begun to appear once again. A new set of ruins has been discovered nearby, known as the Eg-Lana ruins. Lumisa must find a way in to investigate the situation, and follow in her father’s footsteps in a huge adventure of her own. Do you have the strength and wisdom to overcome La-Mulana 2‘s deadly traps and the many guardians that call the Eg-Lana ruins home?
La-Mulana 2 is a difficult, 2D Metroidvania-style game. Like the original game, La-Mulana 2 sees you exploring a vast set of ruins that are divided into quite a few different areas. You’ll need the help of your trusty Mobile Super X3 computer to scan tablets and many other things to learn more about the ruins and solve their obscure puzzles. You can also find new software apps for the Mobile Super X3 lying around the ruins, and others on sale in shops.
One app lets you view the glossary ROMs you’ve collected so far. Each glossary ROM chip contains information about an enemy or character, such as HP and a description. They do not include any strategic information for defeating your foes, though. There are tons of these to collect in the game, and the glossary can also be viewed from the game’s main menu. Aside from the glossary app, there are many other apps to collect as well, such as the map reader and music player apps. Some applications even have extensions that add to their functionality. There is a memory upgrade for the Mobile Super X3 computer itself, too. This lets you have more apps loaded at the same time.
You’ll spend most of your time in La-Mulana 2 platforming around the vast Eg-Lana ruins, fighting bosses and sub bosses, and scanning everything you can possibly reach. You’ll also need to keep a very watchful eye on your health meter, as death is common. You can heal by bathing in rare hot springs for a moment or two. There is also another way to heal, involving the green Soul Stones dropped by enemies. These fill the blue meter under your health bar, and when it maxes out, your health is restored fully. You can find Sacred Orbs hidden in the ruins to increase your maximum health as well.
As you solve obscure puzzles and slowly make your way deeper into the Eg-Lana ruins, you will find countless treasures and other items. Some grant passive benefits, such as clinging to walls or double jumping. Others make your weapons deal more damage or make your life easier with perks like no longer slipping on pesky ice! You’ll also find Holy Grail Tablets throughout the ruins, with generally one appearing in each area. If you have the Holy Grail, you can warp to these once you’ve read them. These tablets also act as save points where you can save your game to any of a number of different save slots.
The controls are quite simple in La-Mulana 2, and a bit less clunky than in the original as far as jumping. You can now turn around in midair in this sequel, but the controls still have a bit of a retro feel to them. This still causes them to feel a bit clunky at times, particularly in annoyingly difficult areas. A great example of this is when trying to get the third and final whip upgrade. It requires a very tricky jump down through a one-tile wide hole without hitting the edges so you can then use the double jump ability to jump through a hole in the wall on the next screen below you. If you hit the edge of the hole, you won’t be able to use double jump because a second midair jump only works if you got into the air by jumping (as opposed to falling off of something). Swimming and jumping out of water still feel a bit wonky too, which was also an issue in the original game.
It is also quite easy to fall off of the edges of platforms in this game. Many platformers use a design trick to make the platforming feel a bit better, where the game actually treats platforms as if they are slightly longer than they really are. This of course makes players less likely to accidentally fall off of ledges, as it gives them a bit more margin for error when jumping. La-Mulana 2 foregoes this trick, as it aims to be a very retro game, but it does so to a fault in my opinion. There are more enemies than in the first game, but that’s not a problem except in some areas, like ones where you can fall in a hole and plummet multiple screens before landing on something. This results in sometimes annoying and unnecessary backtracking to where you were before, especially when it happens repeatedly! Trapdoors can do this, too. Your enemies love to knock you down holes in this game, and they do so quite easily since getting touched by anything hostile has some big knockback.
La-Mulana 2 is very retro in a number of other ways. The major boss battles are not afraid to make you die a lot. I dislike some of them, because they rely on being cheap to be hard. For example, things like spamming crazy amounts of projectiles everywhere all at once, or absurdly giant laser beams! This game is definitely not afraid to be crazy or to kick your ass. So be ready to have yours kicked plenty if you play it!
Many of the puzzles are very obscure, and few players will have much hope of besting this game without looking at a guide sometimes. Some of the puzzles will leave you asking “How was I supposed to figure that out?” There are indeed tons of clues all over the ruins, but some of them are very vague or obtuse, and some can be easily missed. This makes sense given the archeological adventure theme of the game, but I think it goes too far for its own good. You’ll being doing huge amounts of backtracking in the process, too. On the other hand, if you like things crazy hard, then the developers have got you covered with a hard mode whose activation (scan a certain tablet twice) is actually hidden in-game (not in the menu) just like in the original La-Mulana. Some bosses were also tweaked post-launch to be tougher.
La-Mulana 2 has beautiful sprite work and graphics for the environment, characters, and enemies (of which there are tons of different ones). The game also includes some very good music, with some of it having that familiar retro flair that so many old games have in their music. The sound effects are also pretty good, and do their job well. For example, the sound of Lumisa’s whip is more realistic and satisfying than Lamesa’s (her father) in the original game. So they’ve improved some of the sound effects quite a bit over the first game.
La-Mulana 2 can be a very enjoyable game, but it can also be quite frustrating. I love the idea of the game, but it goes out of its way to be very retro and unforgiving. In many cases it goes too far and just ends up feeling cheap. For example, placing a trap door just inside the entrance of a screen so players will fall in it, probably more than once. These are often subtly visible, but can be annoying. A number of ledges have spikes positioned just below them, and you can’t always see them before you walk off the edge, like if they’re on the next screen below. They did add some skeleton sprites under many crusher ceilings in the game post-launch in order to hint at their presence, though. Before this, you’d walk into certain areas and suddenly get crushed to death with no warning whatsoever, which of course felt like a cheap death.
The environments and especially their backgrounds are very nice to look at, and the story plus lots of lore and vague hints add tons of depth. However, it also creates an information overload problem for players. The first game had this issue too but not as much. I spent about 50 hours in the Eg-Lana ruins on this Indiana Jones-style adventure. La-Mulana 2 is available on Steam for $24.99. The game will also be coming to consoles, with physical editions in the plans, too. Can you survive the very deadly Eg-Lana ruins, or will they be your grave?
Review copy provided by publisher.
AGM PLAYISMLa-MulanaLa-Mulana 2NIGOROSteam