La-Mulana 2 (PC) Review

By Renan Fontes 23.09.2018

Review for La-Mulana 2 on PC

There is no such thing as a universal "good sequel." A follow-up that seeks to reinvent the wheel can fail if its predecessor's potential was never fully realised. Likewise, a sequel that offers more of the same can be just as good as the original if the heart and charm are still present. La-Mulana 2 is, for the most part, more of the same, albeit not so similar that it doesn't have a clear-cut identity. It is very much its own game in the context of the overarching La-Mulana series. The question is, how does it live up to its predecessor?

Fans of the original La-Mulana will likely come into the sequel expecting two key features: demanding puzzle solving and brutal difficulty. The 2011 remake captivated audiences with an unforgiving experience that rarely, if ever, tipped the scale so much that the difficulty was actively working against the player. In every respect, Nigoro knew what it was doing with the foundation GR3 Project left behind in 2005. Refining a remake is easier than developing a sequel, however.

With a remake, the developer already has a base to work off of. Occasionally, less experienced teams can miss the point of the title they are remaking but, given Nigoro's intimacy with the original, this does not prove to be an issue. With the same developer and plenty of time in-between instalments to justify a sequel, how does La-Mulana 2 fare in comparison to its originator?

Screenshot for La-Mulana 2 on PC

Initially, it seems as though LM2 is content in retreading its predecessor's steps rather closely. While the overall presentation has certainly been improved, the gameplay and general structure of the world feel cohesive enough where long-time fans will be far from lost when starting their adventure. The biggest shift is the retirement of series protagonist, Lemeza Kosugi, in favour of his daughter, Lumisa.

That said, looks can be deceiving and they indeed are in the world of La-Mulana. It doesn't take long at all for the sequel to craft an aesthetic identity of its own, one that lends itself to a wholly unique journey, even if the gameplay beats are still more or less the same. Where the original superimposed the idea that La-Mulana was the origin point of all cultures - allowing the adventure to lift from countless mythologies - Eg-Lana, the sequel focuses on Eg-Lana - a land deep within the ruins of La-Mulana that centres itself round Norse mythology.

Screenshot for La-Mulana 2 on PC

This does mean the adventure can't lift as wildly from different cultures, but it does result in a more cohesive experience. Given that the original already played around with multiple mythologies so aptly, it's likewise a beneficial decision on Nigoro's part to focus more intently on one subsector of mythology. It isn't as if the core journey is any less creative or interesting, either. The heart of La-Mulana remains very much present.

It certainly helps that the soundtrack is just as incredible as - if not better than - the first game's. The music accompanying Lumisa's journey is at times bombastic, mystifying, and creepy without ever being boring. There is not a single weak link in the score and the soundtrack's overall placement keeps tunes fresh without wearing out their lustre.

Puzzles fare just as well in that regard, albeit with some of the potential frustration the series became known for downplayed. Hints are generally far less confusing this time around, which can be hit or miss depending on the player. The original, and its remake, made a name for itself based on obtuse puzzle solving, so having a helpful tool to get around thinking outside the box can be a bit disappointing, but the actual puzzle quality remains quite high and not every hint is so helpful that it will bestow the answer immediately.

Screenshot for La-Mulana 2 on PC

As is perhaps to be expected, answers to puzzles aren't always easy to come across. A serious degree of critical thinking is necessary for puzzle solving. La-Mulana 2 is going for an appropriately old school approach, so note taking, memorisation, and an attention for detail should all be expected at some point during the adventure.

With that in mind, it should be mentioned that getting lost is admittedly quite easy depending on one's play style. Progression isn't as obtuse as in the original, but roadblocks will occasionally happen. Getting stuck is rarely ever frustrating, though, thanks to the core gameplay loop.

Lumisa controls just as well as Lemeza did, with a nice enough arch to her jump that keeps platforming engaging, and five main weapons to experiment with, with the default whip being able to be upgraded over the course of the journey. The gameplay doesn't tread much new ground, but that isn't a problem in the slightest. New bosses, new challenges, and new puzzles make for a new experience that feels familiar without being derivative. When it comes down to it, that's exactly what La-Mulana 2 needed to be.

Screenshot for La-Mulana 2 on PC

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

La-Mulana 2 doesn't reinvent compared to its predecessor, but it doesn't have to. The foundation left behind by the original La-Mulana is strong enough to justify a sequel that, on the whole, follows the same beats as the original. Exploration is deeply satisfying as Eg-Lana is one of the finest crafted worlds in a Metroidvania; puzzles require genuine use of critical thinking more than not; and, while the curve perhaps isn't as refined as in the original, the difficulty provides a consistent challenge from start to finish. La-Mulana 2 is more of the same, in the best way possible.

Developer

Nigoro

Publisher

Playism

Genre

Action Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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