The Mummy Demastered

A game by WayForward for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch, originally released in 2017.
The Mummy Demastered is a licensed tie-in to a film reboot of Universal’s The Mummy, featuring Tom Cruise in the lead role, Russell Crowe as Dr. Jekyll, and Sofia Boutella as Ahmanet (the mummy). This is Universal’s second run at the franchise following the successful Brendan Fraser-led series that began in 1999 and spawned a pair of sequels, a Universal Studios theme park attraction, the Scorpion King spinoff franchise, and several video games and other tie-ins. The new Mummy film was intended to kick off the Dark Universe franchise, tying together a number of classic Universal Monsters with crossover opportunities in future films.

As part of this new franchise launch, Universal Brand Development worked with WayForward to create a 2D metroidvania “demake” set in the world of The Mummy, rather than a more costly 3D title. As in the film, Princess Ahmanet has risen, and it is up to Prodigium – an agency that specializes in monster hunting – to put a stop to her evil deeds and keep mankind safe from her rampaging supernatural beasts.

Rather than taking on the role of Tom Cruise’s character and replaying the events of the film, you play the part of an unnamed Prodigium operative in full body armor. You explore several themed locales to discover what happened to original Prodigium team that was sent in to investigate, using your arsenal to blast away rats, insects, strange creatures from beyond, and the occasional shrubbery.

The player is able to fire in eight directions and lock his position with a button press to aim freely without moving. The default rifle has infinite ammo and is fairly weak, given that early enemies take multiple hits to destroy, particularly the infinitely-spawning undead. The player can perform a 2x variable jump as well as a roll, but this is not a dodge roll; it is strictly used to pass through small openings and does not prevent the player from taking damage.

The game wears its Super Metroid influences on its sleeve, with its map rooms, save stations (marked in red on the map), and supplemental units of health. Even the opening scene features the operative entering a desolate area filled with dead bodies, only to encounter a tough foe and be forced to retrace his steps through a crumbling environment… although instead of escaping an exploding space station, he finds himself fighting the risen corpses of his fellow agents, along with a few other enemies.

The one area where the game differs strongly from other entries in the metroidvania genre is the amount of handholding, particularly in the early going. Every few minutes, your bearded commanding officer radios in to explain every tiny detail, not only relaying story elements, but also explaining how to aim your weapon, how to drop down through 1-way platforms, how to save your game, and even reminding you to try out your new equipment in an enemy-free area before moving ahead. When you find a new weapon, the guy calls to tell you that you are authorized to use it… which is good news given that the fate of the world is at stake.

Most of this overbearing attitude can be chalked up to modern design sensibilities where developers feel the need to overtly tutorialize each of the game’s mechanics rather than relaying this information organically using clever level design and enemy placement to allow players to discover things on their own. However, the game oversteps its bounds early on when you try to explore outside of the designated area before you have completed all of your outlined objectives. On more than one occasion, deviating from the main path will result in a radio call where you’re informed that you have other things you need to do, and your character will literally turn around and walk out of the room without your control.

Fortunately, this level of coddling is dropped around the game’s midpoint – though mission objectives remain clearly marked on the map – and the player is allowed to explore as he likes, with rewards to be found for searching off the beaten path. Most of the game’s weapons are found along the “main” path, but there are some powerful hidden ones as well. Additionally, players wishing to boost their ammo capacity and health will want to explore every corner for hidden upgrades.

The player always carries his infinite-ammo rifle, but there are several other weapons to be found along the way, including an assault rifle, shotgun, flamethrower, and missile launcher, among others, and only two additional weapons may be carried at a time, plus one grenade-type weapon. Each of these weapons has limited ammo, with refills found by destroying objects in the environment, and ammo carrying capacity is increased by finding bandoliers, many of which aren’t available until late in the game.

Weapons can only be swapped at weapon crates, so you must decide which tools will be the most useful, particularly when going up against bosses. Unfortunately, given your limited ammo capacity, it’s possible to unload your entire secondary arsenal on a boss and still have to whittle away its remaining health with your weak infinite-ammo rifle. All of the game’s bosses are bullet sponges and can take several minutes to wear down, by which time you will have seen them cycle through each of their attacks numerous times.

Enemies continue to get tougher as the player travels further into the game, but all of his more powerful weapons have limited ammunition, meaning that they can’t be used with abandon, especially since some ammo will need to be saved for boss encounters. This is in contrast to something like Super Metroid where discovering new weapons makes them permanently available to the player, with limited ammo given only to explosive weapons. As such, the player may find himself grinding through tough late-game enemies with his starting weapon, which slows the pace considerably.

Grenades have a couple of uses: Besides causing heavy damage to everything in close proximity, they’re also used to open blocked passages. There are a few different kinds of explosives, with C-4 becoming available later in the game. Not long after acquiring C-4, you encounter a mission objective which requires that you use it to blast your way through a metal door… but if you didn’t equip it at the time you picked it up, you can’t move on without backtracking to an ammo crate and swapping your weapon.

In traditional metroidvania fashion, the player earns new abilities as he explores, which allow him to access new areas. These abilities come in the form of a faster movement speed, higher jump, underwater movement, and the ability to move hand-over-hand across ceilings. There are also some hidden abilities that give the player additional advantages, rewarding those who fully explore the environment. Backtracking to previous areas is made easier by the inclusion of helicopter landing zones that allow the player to move between them instantaneously.

Health is a bit hard to come by, as enemies drain much more health than you get from killing them and destroying breakable objects, and enemy projectiles (and some enemies) are able to pass through solid objects, whereas yours do not, giving them an advantage in combat. The player begins the game with 99 units of health, and many enemies are able to drain 10 or more units in a single hit. Common health pickups restore five units, while larger ones restore 10. By finding medkits, the player can eventually increase his health meter tenfold.

Save points do not restore health, so players may find themselves farming for restoratives to refill their health meters by entering and reentering rooms to destroy crates, light fixtures, and other objects for health drops. Furthermore, when killed, the player character arises in an undead form, resurrected by Ahmanet. The player then respawns back at the most recent save point with all of his weapons and health supplements gone. He must track down and kill the undead agent – who moves slowly but has access to all of the player’s formerly equipped weapons – to regain his weapons and half of his health.

The Mummy Demastered was developed by WayForward, a California-based company founded in 1990. The developer’s catalogue consists mostly of licensed titles, including Contra 4, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, DuckTales: Remastered, and the Adventure Time games. In 2009, the company reimagined the NES game A Boy and His Blob: Trouble on Blobolonia with their Wii release of A Boy and His Blob. WayForward is perhaps best known for their original IP’s, which include the Mighty series (Mighty Flip Champs, Mighty Switch Force, etc.) and the Shantae series, which consists of the original Shantae on the Game Boy Color, Shantae: Risky’s Revenge, Shantae and the Pirate's Curse, and Shantae: Half-Genie Hero.

Among the many individuals involved in its development, the game features artwork from Thomas Feichtmeir, a.k.a. Cyangmou, who also created art for Tower 57 and Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I Don't Know!, and animations by Andrew Bado, creator of Mystik Belle and Ultionus: A Tale of Petty Revenge, and artist on numerous Shantae games, Pier Solar and the Great Architects, and Gunlord.