Mulaka is the second title coming out of Lienzo Studio, a Mexico based developer that started in 2012. It’s a full on love letter to a rich Mexican culture of the Tarahumara people. It’s a third person action adventure game that weaves in culturally significant history and mythology much like Okami did and to a lesser extent, God of War.
You play as the titular Mulaka, a Sukurúame, a Tarahumara shaman. Renowned for great physical prowess and mystical abilities, Mulaka must enlist the help of various demigods from Tarahumara lore and stop the encroaching evil from destroying the land. The story doesnt hold your hand but rather let’s the design and environments help tell it’s story.
The art style in Mulaka is striking and beautiful. The first bit of game play you are placed in after an opening cinematic depicting the creation of the world is a seemingly endless desert locale. At first the difference between the stylized opening the level is jarring. You met with a strong dose of tans and browns, it’s a desert after all. But any fear is quickly dismissed when you start moving around and exploring the area and come across gorgeously designed statues, these serve as tutorials for basic combat, and lush greenery, that serves points to collect health potions. Maps vary from the desert to villages, forests and mountain all unique, all eye catching and all based around real locations. Lienzo studios went into great care to recreate these worlds and stories. Going as far to have several historians on staff and recording the dialogue in the actual Tarahumara language.
The combat is standard fare. You have a quick attack and a heavy attack with a dodge ability. You can throw spears which you will need at times for some environmental puzzles. You are gifted with a special site that let’s you talk to spirits but also serves as a way to find items of interest on the map. This feature runs off of a meter so you cant run with it on at all times. You’ll solve environmental puzzles using newly unlocked powers to unlock the boss for each area and repeat with increasing difficulty until the end of the game. Combat at times can be a bit loose as well. There is an auto lock feature that is a bit slow and sometimes the camera can be more dangerous than the enemies you are fighting. That said I always had plenty of potions to keep me healthy and the feature of doing a dance each time you healed always felt like a fun touch.
Overall the care that went into crafting the world is a bit muddied by the lackluster combat. To see the worlds Lienzo crafted is well worth the time in the game. I just hope on their next outing they put the same polish on gameplay, but like I said this is only the second game released by them so I remain hopeful and excited to see what comes next.
Mulaka is available now on PC, PS4, XBOX and Switch for $19.99