Monday, 7 July 2014

Back to La-Mulana

La-Mulana 2 is on it's way sometime in the indefinite future and watching a playable demo of it made me really want to play La-Mulana again. I never actually finished La-Mulana the first time I played - I made it to the final boss and then didn't have a drive to continue. The game is really about exploring and solving puzzles, so practicing the last boss fight until I could beat it just didn't fit in with what I enjoyed about the game.

I've said it before, but this game is a masterpiece, and I think the remake might even be better than the original. The original had it's incredibly bizarre MSX ROM combination system, but honestly I would have had to look that up on the internet anyway. The remake took that away but replaced it with much harder boss fights, which is probably for the best. Having just admitted that I didn't find practicing bosses to be a really fun part of the game that might seem an odd thing to say, but one of the things that La-Mulana reminds you about games is that they are no fun unless they take work.

This is probably why I've never been big on books or movies - having been raised on video games they are just too easy.

The great thing about La-Mulana is that the puzzles are at the same time absurd and completely solvable. In the Mausoleum of Giants there are a large number of tablets telling you various parts of the story of the nine giants. The giants themselves, in statue form, also line the ruins. Part of solving the puzzle is reading the story of the giants and using it to figure out which giant is which and then connecting the cryptic stories about each to things that are in the environments in their rooms.

I like this kind of puzzle because it invites you to move your mind into the logic of the game rather than solving puzzles catered to you as a player. Today's games tend to have puzzles where you have a set number of different kinds of moves in a limited puzzle-specific playspace. You get to the door and go into a sliding tile puzzle to open it, you have three levers to operate the machine and have to figure out what order to hit them in, etc.

In La-Mulana the puzzle playspace and the running around with a whip playspace are the same and there are no rules. The solution to a puzzle could be literally anything - stepping on a pressure pad, placing a weight on a pedestal, whipping a wall, using the right item in the right place, walking off the correct ledge, breaking a pot, pausing the game, etc. This is pressing X in Brain Lord, but without the shocking incongruity. And when you do something that causes a statue to fall down, you don't get a quicktime event, you get out of the way or you die.

I was very happy to have the internet a couple of times when I played through because there were a few puzzles that might have otherwise stumped me and I might have given up on solving them. I'll be interested to see how my memory holds up for the later puzzles in the game. My suspicion is that I will vaguely remember how to do most things but that I won't remember how to do the ones that I didn't solve the first time because that's how memory works.

If you haven't played, this is definitely a game worth checking out, but only if you like awesome things. Otherwise stick with the vast majority of things in life that don't even come close to La-Mulana.

No comments:

Post a Comment