La-Mulana 2 PC Review
Very obtuse puzzles
The Real Cave Story Teller
Ancient puzzles and archaeologists go together like peanut butter and jelly. We have seen many titles go with this idea, and some of our most famous movies continue this trope to the loving adoration of the public at large. Combining this heroic story trend with the elements of an rpg, with the non-linear nature of a metroidvania along with that style’s map and layout is the brainchild of NIGORO, a very small team with big ideas.
La-Mulana 2 is obviously the follow up to the cult classic La-Mulana. The first was a big hit first on WiiWare, but then was made for the PC as well a few years later. Its been some time since then, around 6 years and with a kickstarter campaign that’s been done for 4 years the fans of the original don’t have to wait any longer. You now play as the daughter of the protagonist from the first LM, and are exploring a lost city that was found near the first from the last game. This is where the first bit of what will become pervasive humor all along this game. Now, the first game’s levels are a vacation spot and spa for tourists instead of the challenging deadly dungeon it once was.
You meet an odd old man who shows you the way and helps you get equipped, but his weird word choices make it a really funny start to the game. In fact, every NPC has their own distinctive style and attitude, and that helps to build on the original and yet make LM2 its only animal while getting you invested in the lore. Legends and lore are extremely important to the rpg genre as a whole, but even more so here. The puzzles you find along the way are challenging to say the least, and will require a pen and pad to take notes and notice even the finest of details to through.
LM2 definitely follows the same art style and graphics as the first with only slight differences here and there. The scrolling is faster, the character details are better, but sticking with the retro format of pixels makes for some challenges that hurt the flow of the game. The controls as well are the same from the last game with little improvement, so the jumping itself is very stiff, and there’s almost no adjustment while in the air. Classic look doesn’t mean bad controls though, since the original Megaman is famous for having smooth as butter movement, so it’s very strange to see those kind of poor controls made today. The pixel art is fun to look at, but being a platformer it’s very hard to know what is or is not a ledge to jump to, and there are too many of the similar colors, or too dark of a background to distinguish something important from simple window dressing. The background is very important to the game, as you need it to solve puzzles at times, so muddy details are a real drawback. Also, with keeping to the retro style, the entire game itself is played in a 4×3 format, which is true to the old ways, but pretty inexcusable for today’s monitors and TVs.
Puzzle games are great, and when you get that “AHA!” moment, there’s little like that feeling in any other game. However, LM and LM2 seem to be aimed at the hardcore puzzler niche almost entirely because of the very obtuse thinking require to complete the puzzles. There are of course fans of this type of game, who enjoy the mystery and work required to solve everything, but it’s not for the faint of heart.