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Bring Mexican Folklore to Life on Your Screen
  • System: Nintendo Switch, PS4, PC, Xbox One
  • Publisher: Lienzo
  • Developer: Lienzo
  • Release Date: February 27, 2018
  • Pricing: $19.99
  • Rating: T for Teen
  • Genre: 3D Platformer, Action, Adventure, Indie
  • Players: Single Player
  • Official Website: https://www.lienzo.mx/mulaka/

Who it Caters to

Taking a lot of influence from the Tarahumara people, Mulaka comes to Nintendo Switch, the PS4, Xbox One, and PC to deliver to you a game full of culture and mythological themes. Mulaka is a 3D platformer full of adventure with a lot of thought put into the creation of this indie title. Created by the developer Lienzo, which is based in Chihuahua, Mexico, gamers will be taken on an adventure through a land and culture not usually explored by many mediums. If you are interested in culture, indigenous people, traditions, and adventure-platformer titles, hang tight. Mulaka may be the game for you. We here at Honey’s Anime have been blessed enough to receive a copy and we want to share with you our thoughts on this new indie title available on all major consoles.

What to Expect

Welcome to Mexico where you will follow the legends brought to us by the Tarahumara people. You will be playing as a Sukuruame, a type of shaman of Tarahumara, who can draw power from the demigods in order to fight other dark creatures that are plaguing the Tarahumara people. As a Taramuaran, you will have great athletic prowess, but you’ll also have to count on the powers of the demigods in order to achieve your goal. Added onto that, look forward to gaining new skills, solving puzzles, and making potions that will help you along the way. Mulaka is based on a very real tribe of people, the Tarahumara, who were known to be skilled warriors, even going so far as to clash with the Jesuits for 100 years before they could both settle. While the times are becoming more modern, the Tarahumara still hold onto old traditions and many old ways to this day. These are the people we will be encountered in the world of Mulaka. Many of the traits of the Tarahumara can be seen in Mulaka from the fast running skills that you will need to play the game to the fierce hand-to-hand combat you will engage in against those who threaten your life. Anthropologists and Tarahumara leaders were referenced in order to create a game that truly captured the essence of Mexico and the Tarahumara culture. The traditional instruments of the Tarahumara were used to create a soundtrack with the authentic sounds of the Tarahumara people.

Mulaka Launch Trailer

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGYUecSvPoY&w=560&h=315]
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Story

Mulaka follows a Tarahumara Sukuruame, the first in a long time. In fact, your father was a Sukuruame as well, as mentioned in character interactions. While you play, you are to prove yourself to demigods in order to attain the right to use their power on your journey to fight evil. Along the way, you will find out more about the other Tarahumara people and your role in keeping the peace.

Gameplay

When Mulaka was first brought to our attention, we have to say that we were quite excited to hear more about a game that was exploring a rather untouched culture as a whole, not just in a video game. This is something in which the developers, Lienzo, really excelled at. Lienzo was very mindful of each touch in Mulaka and made sure that everything reflected the culture and folklore that is present in the Tarahumara from the setting and landscape to the mythology. This is a major aspect as most people have probably not even heard of the Tarahumara people even though they still exist in the city of Chihuahua to this day. The music and the character interactions are a great reflection of this as you explore the game and become more immersed in the culture. Despite this emphasis on the culture and folklore of the Tarahumara, Mulaka is lacking in plot. The opening sequence explains the legends and myths of the Tarahumara, but this doesn’t really give us a direction in terms of gameplay. We are vaguely aware that we are supposed to do something to deal with the evil in the game, but not much else is explained in detail. Even learning about the major aspects to the game feel very vague and minute. Someone tells us that to get past a barrier, we have to collect 3 gems and suddenly, that’s the major element to the gameplay. This felt a little bit too subtle of a point. Mulaka contains about 7 “levels” with each level requiring that you find 3 gems in order to proceed. You will come across enemies along the way and when a new one comes around, you will receive a notice and can look up information about that enemy, which is actually pretty interesting to read about. At some points in the game, you’ll find yourself in a sort of “locked room” where you are unable to get out and have to fight a handful of enemies in order to escape. This starts off rather simple at first but becomes more complicated as the enemies become more numerous and harder to fight, making the space appear smaller and giving you difficulty when you need to take a healing potion.
Speaking of healing potions, you are able to craft different potions in the game utilizing materials that you find in grassy areas in the desert. You can craft bombs and healing potions, etc. etc. The materials are rather numerous and refresh so be sure to keep your arsenal full in case you need them. Unfortunately, this same point also directs us to the overall fighting mechanic in the game. It is not so easy as to allow you to button mash and succeed. You actually need to know how to fight, which is a good thing, but some enemies are harder requiring you to take them out with a spear through while they are attacking you. Somehow, you have to aim your spear just right to get them out of the air. This can be frustrating if there are other enemies attacking you. Just imagine if you got locked in those locked room battles.
Whether it’s lucky or not, fighting is not a major aspect of the gameplay as the exploration is. You will have to explore the desert and seek out materials that you can find useful and ways to solve puzzles. There will be various artifacts for you to find and sometimes, you get to fight an enemy, although this is not as common. Exploring the area can be fun as you find things or might have to find a way to to get to a treasure that may be perched high above everything. Sukuruame vision can come in handy as there may be platforms in the spiritual realm that you cannot see with the naked eye. Speaking of Sukuruame vision, it is a highly useful ability that lets you see what direction and how far an objective is, although it may be vague about what the objective is. Usually it’s a gem, but sometimes it’s an artifact. You can also use this ability to see the hp that an enemy has left, which may or may not be useful for the smaller enemies. The only issue with this power, and all powers, is that there is a limit to how much magical power you can use. Once you deplete the bar, the vision stops. This becomes a bit less troublesome later as you upgrade, but it is still quite annoying, especially at the beginning, to only hold the power for about half a minute. Also, utilizing the Sukuruame vision to find something can be somewhat helpful as it is in many open world games, but as you get closer to an objective, it becomes more and more vague about what you have to do to get there.
In design, Mulaka is fairly simple and blocky with vague details, which feels rather outdated in this day and age, but it could be because the developers wanted to put more emphasis on the culture and tradition infused in the game, which it excels in above all else. The visuals actually work to its advantage if you remember that this is an indie game and seems pretty solid amongst other indie titles. The world of Mulaka takes on a sort of open world-esque aesthetic where you are given fairly little direction and figure it out on your own, but at the same time, there are so many invisible walls that you are really just steered in one direction, which is one of our biggest peeves. You could be trying to go around what appears to be a pond of quicksand and suddenly, you hit a wall so you nearly fall in said quicksand and die. This was extremely frustrating considering its not obvious where invisible walls are. With that being said, there were a lot of aspects that appeared to be fun at first, but then quickly descended past the line of annoying. You play a Sukuruame, a shaman, so of course we understand that you will perform tribal dances. This was intriguing when you had to get down to pray at a shrine in order to save, which doesn’t occur that often. However, if you have to perform this 5-10 second dance each time you heal, which leaves you vulnerable to attack, especially if you find yourself in one of those “locked room” battles. There’s just no time to heal. This makes really difficult boss battles and those locked room battles really difficult for the most part.
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Honey's Gameplay Consensus:

Mulaka is labeled a 3D platformer, but in our opinion, it feels a bit like an open world game where you are left to your own devices. The tutorials provided in Mulaka are few and far between with it providing little direction. We wish to give it props for being inventive with its plot and premise. This was a major cause for excitement in our books as it provides an opportunity to be exposed to something new and not cliche. While Mulaka may not have the best visuals and is not packed with content, considering the price tag and the fact that this is an indie title, Mulaka has pretty well for itself and may be worth considering. Overall, if you want a game to play rather casually, you can entertain yourself with Mulaka, which is guaranteed to provide around 8-10 hours of game time.

Honey's Pros:

  • A lot of thought was put into each aspect of the game ensuring that this title was rich in culture and folklore
  • The soundtrack is very different and full of sounds of the indigenous people
  • The premise of the game is one of our favorites for being innovative and rather educational

Honey's Cons:

  • No real direction in the game
  • Invisible wall effect everywhere
  • Lacking in content
  • Simplistic overall gameplay

Honey's Final Verdict:

Well, folks, there you have it; our thoughts on Mulaka! While it’s a little lacking compared to big name titles, Mulaka does quite well for itself against other indie games. Given the right audience, it can be a fun game to play with a rather intriguing premise that breaks out of the box. Lienzo has put a lot of thought into what they wished to include in the game and it truly shows in Mulaka. If you are interested in Mulaka or have thoughts of your own about the game, please feel free to share them with us. And let’s not forget, join us again for more thoughts and recommendations here at Honey’s Anime.
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