Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Editor’s Note: This is the second of two reviews. The Reviewer wanted to concentrate on both titles separately. Check out their review of La Mulana!
Hoo boy, here we are again. Those of you who regularly drop by our site probably noticed that I recently reviewed La Mulana earlier this month, and well, this is the sequel. But is it better? Is it worse? Did they do the original justice? Are the puzzles still arse? The answer to all those questions is “yes”.
After the events of the first game, which will be spoiled for you in the second if you haven’t played the first, the ruins that Lemeza Kosugi, ninja archaeologist, was exploring have mostly collapsed and have since been turned into a tourist attraction. Unfortunately, monsters have been recently coming out of the ruins ruining Elder Xelpud’s business model. He sends a message off to Lemeza asking for help, but instead his daughter, Lumisa, shows up. Less of an archaeologist, more of the adventurous sort, she sets off to explore the ruins of the newly discovered Eg-Lana.
For those of you who’ve played the first game, the play style is going to be extremely familiar, with a few little tweaks. For those who haven’t played the first game, do so. If you really aren’t going to, your loss. After having played both games, I feel like the gameplay primarily revolves around vainly attempting to solve puzzles you have no idea how to even approach while dealing with some of the most frustrating bats I’ve ever seen. La Mulana 2 is quite similar. Lumisa, like her father, starts off with a whip to attack, a jump that you can actually control midair now (praise be the devs), sub-weapons that are generally ranged consumables, and an “action item” that can be generally used whenever by holding it above your head.
La Mulana 2 is a lot of platforming, a lot of puzzle-solving, and a decent chunk running around in circles. Being a 2D platform, Lumisa can jump, climb ladders, double jump (upon getting the item for it), and a number of other options as you progress through the game. You will also collect new items for sub weapons, main weapons, andantino items, in addition to the “gameplay enhancement items. New for those who’ve played the first title, you can crawl, and YOU CAN FINALLY GRAB LADDERS WHILE JUMPING.
Also, a lot of the handy items from the first game that take a while to find, such as the app that lets you record text, are given to you basically right off the bat. You veteran players are probably currently eyeing that last sentence and thinking warily “what’s the catch…”. Well, in exchange for making the puzzles a little more manageable, and not having the clue 20 hours later into the game, or having the puzzle somewhere you’ll forget the clue by the time you get there, there are a lot more instant death traps this time around. Often after you’ve beaten a boss. Or near a boss room. Guess how I found that out?
Overall, La Mulana 2 plays almost exactly like La Mulana: you run around ruins whipping bats, getting knocked off ladders, shouting at tablets that don’t make sense, and hoping you won’t get crushed by a random wall. Thanks to adjustable jumping and ladder grabbing being implemented, this feels really great. In addition, you get way more sub-weapon drops and money. The trade-off is that things are generally more expensive, and you’ll be using those sub-weapons a lot.
Many of the room guardians this time around are rather…resistant to melee weapons, as in they stay away from you, or have counters to close range combat that will take half your health at least. The computer applications that can affect gameplay are still around, allowing you to combine different programs to still get that increased damage on hit. The axe is a lot less broken now though. Speaking of, I never did find the bombs this time around… I know they’re there, you can buy the ammo, I just never found them before writing this review, which is at 7 of 9 guardians killed and about 35 hours in. But hey, the game gives you TONS of leeway in how you approach the game, with tons of different branching areas and different entrances and exits into those areas.
The graphics are similar to the remake of La Mulana, but with what seems to be slight upgrades, although not super noticeable if you don’t play them back to back. Characters all now have actual portraits instead of just pixel art when you talk to them, and they’re dynamic too! The individual areas that the game is split up into are generally sprawling, and while it doesn’t follow that wonky “fit the zone into a 5×5 box” like the first game, this just means areas can get much larger. Let’s not forget the music, either. Just like its predecessor, La Mulana 2 has an absolutely stellar soundtrack. With areas themed after well-known mythologies instead of historical ruins this time, the individual zones feel like a solid departure from the first game, while still keeping a similar feel to them.
Characters from the first game return in the second, a few of which you might actually remember fighting from the first game, now distinctly more amicably. Well, at least until your dad and gramps try digging through a wall. Turns out deities aren’t too fond of people breaking their temples. La Mulana 2 is, at its core, very tongue-in-cheek. A lot of the dialogue is pretty quirky, occasionally mocking the game itself, or the state of gaming as a whole nowadays, or is meant as a gag. This isn’t to say there isn’t also serious dialogue, it’s just that La Mulana knows what it is and doesn’t shy away from the fact.
Overall, La Mulana 2 is a great successor to La Mulana, much to both my joy and chagrin. With gameplay improvements that don’t make me still want to throw something out the window and more reasonable puzzles, to harder platforming, enemies, and enough instant death traps to make me flip a table, La Mulana 2 really didn’t trade out any of the difficulty, just shifted it. I can’t express just how great this game is to play, especially for those looking for a bit of nostalgia for those tough as nails old-school games. With some rocking background music to accompany you, grab a pen and paper to write everything down in each room, including background objects, and try and play through the game without touching a walkthrough. Trust me, it’s a lot more fun that way.Score: 9 / 10