|Full Mojo Rampage
|Over The Top Games
|July 16, 2015
|Top-Down Shooter, Roguelike
|PC, PS4, Xbox One
|ESRB – Teen
There are certain types of characters you just expect to play in games. From little Italian plumbers to cutesy animals to big musclemen with guns, you usually know what to expect when you pick up any given game. Something I don’t so much expect in games these days is playing as a little dude in a creepy mask. I’m a longtime fan of the top-down shooter genre — getting my start on the Gauntlet games back in the day — so I was more than a little interested when I was given the chance to try out Over The Top Games’ new title Full Mojo Rampage. The game’s voodoo aesthetic certainly caught my interest, but was a unique premise alone enough to keep me coming back for more?
Full Mojo Rampage has players taking on the role of… a little voodoo guy, I guess. As far as I can tell, you aren’t a fleshed out character, per se, as much as you are a servant one of the many different gods, or Loa, featured in the game. Each chapter of the game is its own independent storyline, tasking players with helping a different Loa with some kind of issue, from dealing with the fallout of a drunken summoning to replacing stolen items. To do this, players will have fight through waves of enemies in various stages with a few bosses peppered here and there for good measure.
At the core of it, the game plays very much like your standard top down twin-stick shooter. Playing on the PS4, the left stick moves your character around, while the right stick will have your character continuously fire shots in whatever direction you push. Enemies will attack from all directions, so you will have to continuously move around and fire your (admittedly weak) shots to keep them at bay. Oftentimes, enemies will drop items and money which can either be used immediately or saved for use at a more opportune time. Full Mojo Rampage also features roguelike-style gameplay, meaning that if you die, you have to start all over again. So far, it sounds pretty cut-and-dry, so how does Full Mojo Rampage set itself apart?
Just looking at pictures and listening to the music of the game, you can see the creepy voodoo-inspired themes the devs were going for. This becomes apparent almost immediately when starting a new game. Players are able to customize their characters with their choice of scary, cute and funny masks, though these appear to be chiefly cosmetic. Aside from that, the character can be stuck with a specific pin of the player’s choosing, which will grant a variety of different effects, such as increased attack power, starting a run with a stock of healing potions or additional equipment slots to name just a few, though many more can be discovered as you play. Players will also be able to select the Loa they are serving. This mainly decides what kind of moveset their character will have for that run. Initially, only the Loa Baron Samedi is available, granting access to a basic grenade-type attack, as well as a helpful dodge move. Other Loa can be unlocked using the medals that players collect while playing the game. These will give different abilities such as healing skills or laying down wards that will attack nearby enemies. For my time, though, I stuck with Samedi.
From the world map, players will work from level to level, completing a main objective in each one. It usually comes down to ‘destroy x number of enemies,’ ‘collect x number of items’ or simply ‘find the exit,’ so it’s nothing too tough to wrap your head around. As you explore and fight enemies, you’ll find various items that you can equip or use at your leisure. Voodoo dolls, or mojos, can be equipped to increase your stats, while other single-use items can be used to heal yourself or hurt your opponents using summoned allies or homing shots. There’s a pretty good variety of items, though it was confusing that several mojos seemed to use the same sprite on the equipment menu. Fortunately, hitting the R3 button allows you to pull up a description of all your items so you know what they do. Staves can also be equipped to temporarily change the characteristics of your attacks. These can be as simple as increasing your fire rate or shooting a spread shot, or they can also let you lob grenades at enemies for a short time.
Unfortunately, I think one of the biggest things the game has going against it right now is a lack of variety. As I mentioned, picking up mojos using the same sprite meant that I could never really tell what I was using unless I read about the descriptions on my menu. As this is all done during gameplay, that meant that I might be required to read and debate which items I wanted to use while also fighting off enemies. If the game featured a wider variety of mojo designs, it would be much easier to make snap decisions on which ones would be best. Not only that, but the sound design isn’t always on the mark either. Skeleton enemies you run into early in the game make a telltale bone-rattling sound when they spawn and a little scream when they die. That’s all well and good. Where I start to have issues is later in the game when you start coming across slime enemies that also rattle their non-existent bones when they spawn in. Not only that, but some other enemies make no sounds whatsoever when you take them out. Having a bit more feedback in combat can go a long way to helping players stay immersed.
Probably worst of all is that a lot of the combat can feel a little ‘blah’ at times. There’s no ‘oomph’ to the shots you fire. I know it might seem like a minor thing to complain about, but giving players the impression that there’s some power behind the attacks they perform can go a long way to deepening the immersion they feel. Not only that, but being a 3D twin stick shooter as opposed to other 2D shooters like The Binding of Isaac means that you can shoot in more than just the four cardinal directions. Normally I’d think this is fine, but the ability to shoot in more directions means more chances that your accuracy will be off. There were many instances where I was trying to fight enemies and wanted to fire my grenades, but I completely overshot my mark because I had no real way of aiming. In a situation where you have to wait for a cooldown on another grenade, missing a shot only serves to mount the frustration. Something like a targeting reticle would certainly come in handy in these situations, since free aiming seems to create a lot of problems.
The exception to this was the bosses. While I found the basic mobs in each level pretty underwhelming, the bosses and mini-bosses throughout the game were great intermissions from the normal grind. Even the very first boss you meet, Mandingo, a large top hat-wearing skeleton, will give you a run for your money if you aren’t properly equipped for the fight; I actually died in one hit the first time I fought him after taking a large shotgun-like attack directly to the face. These fights are easily the biggest challenges in the game, as you’re going up against huge enemies with giant health bars that can quickly take you out in just a few hits if you aren’t careful. It’s just a shame that the rank-and-file enemies that you run across for the majority of the game couldn’t follow suit.
After playing Full Mojo Rampage, I can only hope that Over The Top Games continues to support the game after release. While there’s nothing fundamentally wrong mechanically, the little things add up to something that goes a long way sucking the enjoyment out of the game. The game touts an online multiplayer mode where players can meet up for co-op and competitive gaming, but I was never able to find even a single session to join, at least for the PS4 version. Likewise there are other game modes apart from the story, including endless dungeons and daily challenges with online leaderboards, but with no real online community to speak of, and, as a result, no major distinction from the regular single player mode, there isn’t much incentive to participate. This, in addition to the samey and sometimes frustrating combat means that, unless you’re an absolutely diehard fan of the top-down shooting genre, you probably won’t enjoy the game for an extended period of time. But, hey, if you are one of those fans, more power to you.
Review copy provided by publisher