[Beyond PlayStation] LA-MULANA Review

by the_nmac

Explore the ancient ruins as you compete with rival treasure hunters, and get to the treasure in this Metroidvania. Check out our La-Mulana review!

Your destiny awaits in La-Mulana! Take control of archaeologist Lemeza Kosugi and navigate through puzzles, traps, and deadly Guardians in order to claim the Secret Treasure of Life. You’ll need sharp wits, quick reflexes, and, most importantly, all the courage you can muster. Will you succeed in unraveling the secrets of La-Mulana, or will you fall victim to the dangers that surround you?

LA-MULANA 1 & 2 – Launch Trailer – Nintendo Switch

La-Mulana is a Metroidvania on Nintendo Switch that is available as a download on its own or as part of a La-Mulana physical collection from NIS America. It’s relatively new-ish since it was released back during the Wiiware days and then ported to the PlayStation Vita. Now this prequel and its a sequel are out on major consoles, and today we’re here to see how the game holds up on the Nintendo’s current-gen hardware, the Nintendo Switch.

LA-MULANA Review - 1

La-Mulana tells the story of Lemeza, an archeologist who receives a letter from his father about the fabled place La-Mulana, which is why he goes searching for him. La-Mulana is supposedly the birthplace of all civilization, which makes it a really interesting place to find! The game doesn’t really hit you with the story right off the top but layers it into the overall storytelling arc as you play. It took a bit for the game to get going, but once it did, I was invested in the story of Lemeza and his father, as well as in the lore of La-Mulana.

La-Mulana is a Metroidvania at heart… a really hard and punishing Metroidvania. I guess that when the developers were making the original version of the game, prior to even the Wiiware era, they thought modern games were too easy and wanted to make something that would challenge players. They accomplished it because this game was the Dark Souls of the Metroidvania genre, years before the Soul-like explosion. I love a good Metroidvania, but this game was quite a challenge! It’s also much longer, so you can end up spending dozens of hours during your first time playing the game – and even longer if you’re going for 100% completion. It’s a very meaty experience, padded out at times by the difficulty.

LA-MULANA Switch Review - 1

La-Mulana looks and feels like a cross between the 8-bit and 16-bit eras. It doesn’t quite look like the crisp 16-bit games we know and love, but it’s miles beyond what the 8-bit generation could do. The game plays like a mix of the two as well, which is part of the difficulty curve you’ll experience. When you jump, you need to jump with intent, as you can’t try to change your direction or speed on the fly. It takes some getting used to, but once you understand and think about your jumps before you take them, you’ll be fine.

All of the proper things you would expect in the genre are present here. You start with your trusty whip and get more power-ups as you explore the ancient ruins, which will allow you to explore different areas as you progress through the game. What is a bit different is you can only save at the initial campsite, making the game a risk-reward scenario. As you progress, you need to decide whether going back makes sense or not – at least before you can eventually teleport back there. Also, a big shoutout to the boss battles of the game, they are tough, but immense challenges and fun – some of my favorite things to do in games.

LA-MULANA Nintendo Switch Review - 4

Final Thoughts
I really liked La-Mulana. Once I got past the difficulty curve and understood the mechanics of the game, I was in for the long run. The game is not going to be for everyone, but it’s a great Metroidvania with a ton of content to offer. Be sure to check out La-Mulana on Nintendo Switch… and then come back because I’ll be reviewing the sequel as well!

This LA-MULANA review is based on a Switch copy provided by NIS America.

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