La-Mulana 2 (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Albert Lichi 12.08.2020 3

Review for La-Mulana 2 on Nintendo Switch

Takumi Naramura's La-Mulana proved to be a cult hit when it first showed up in the freeware scene. After much joking about how there would never be a sequel, suddenly a Kickstarter campaign appeared. This was to be a successor that promised to be a bigger and better game made with the Unity engine. The first is still one of the most challenging and secretive metroidvanias around, and just how can a sequel improve upon it? Find out in the Cubed3 review of the indelible La-Mulana 2, for the Nintendo Switch.

The original La-Mulana was a very challenging and cryptic 2D platformer where gamers had to use their heads and exchange notes to fully understand what to do. It harkened back to a time before the internet, when video games still had some mystique to them, and you couldn't brute force your way through. It was like going on an archaeological adventure in a way, and it brought people together in a manner that has fallen to the wayside since the '90s.

La-Mulana 2 continues this ethos, and further fleshes out its lore. There are many returning characters that show up, and things have changed over the years. Lemeza Kusogi is missing, and now his daughter, Lumisa, has set out to find out what has become of her father. The trail leads her to La-Mulana - the ruins of the first game, which have since become a tourist trap. La-Mulana 2 is not afraid to have a bit of fun with its concept.

Screenshot for La-Mulana 2 on Nintendo Switch

Beneath La-Mulana are the ruins of Eg-Lana, the realm which acts like a penitentiary. The Mother, or creator of sentient life itself, is a fallen god, and her soul has become Eg-Lana herself, and has begun to spawn monsters that attack the tourists. Lumisa's quest is to follow her father's trail and unearth the secrets of Eg-Lana's biting fury. Like in La-Mulana, Lumisa will rely on software for helpful functions, but will have limited RAM. Her tablet is capable of granting access to maps and adding extra apps to show hidden rooms or signalling alert sound effects for different contexts like nearby traps. Most of the applications are not required and are only there to make things easier to explore or to understand some of the hidden meanings.

La-Mulana 2 is just as dense with symbolic imagery and cryptic murals that have clues that will lead to secrets or the required path. It is as close as gaming has ever gotten to an archaeology sim. Modern gamers have just gotten so soft when it comes to having to actually put in the work and play a video game. La-Mulana 2 is here to show people just how much sense of discovery can be packed into a single adventure.

Screenshot for La-Mulana 2 on Nintendo Switch

The tablet and its applications really come into their own when combining apps to form new functions. There are tons of apps based on the developer's past titles, and mixing and matching them with each other results in a wide variety of effects. This was also the case in the first instalment, but now there are more combos and more useful effects that can make the game much easier at the cost of the tablet's RAM. Discovering the combinations is just another layer of innovation steeped within the gameplay of this sequel. This has improved over its predecessor in several ways. The pixel art is so much more sophisticated and resembles the kind of detail and panache seen in 32-bit era games like something on the SEGA Saturn. Characters have huge portrait art and have more expression than ever.

Even the way Lumisa controls is so much more flexible than her father's stiff leaps. There is a little bit more leeway given to her air time for some course correction, but there is still some element of commitment when leaping. The balance and pacing in here are much more evened out than they were before. The first game was an outrageously challenging experience from start to finish. The team at NIGORO took the time to refine the scenario, and ease players into the world of Eg-Lana. Gradually, La-Mulana 2 teaches players how to think like an explorer, and to how to notice traps or vital clues that might help them.

Screenshot for La-Mulana 2 on Nintendo Switch

It takes a special kind of game designer to make a sequel that is easier than its predecessor, but can also be much more difficult. It makes navigating and researching clues so much more satisfying and less time is wasted thanks to the bevy of quality of life features added. Level design is meticulously crafted, as if galactic brained ancients where the architects for Eg-Lana. Activating one thing will affect another somewhere else, and it is on the player to figure out how it works. La-Mulana 2 has tremendous respect for the one holding the gamepad, and provides everything one may need. It helps that the music is just as intense and exciting as in La-Mulana, always beckoning the player to keep adventuring.

This is a much longer metroidvania than most. This reviewer took almost 60 hours to make it to the end of the journey, and that is not counting the optional content. Some epic JRPGs can't even reach the kind of length and density that La-Mulana 2 has to offer. It is a gift that just keeps giving, like an Italian grandmother who won't stop feeding their grandson more and more lasagne. It is impossible to reject anything it keeps presenting, because it is full of compelling intrigue and satisfying exploration.

Screenshot for La-Mulana 2 on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

10/10
Rated 10 out of 10

Masterpiece - Platinum Award

Rated 10 out of 10

La-Mulana 2 ranks as one of the greatest metroidvanias ever made. It is steeped in lore, and has an elaborate interconnected world. The constant drip-feed of upgrades and items with devious traps and puzzles keep the pace flowing nicely for several dozen hours. It even has a sense of humour too, making even the most tired and cynical gamer stop for a moment to have a good laugh. It is such a confidently designed 2D adventure, with a clear and focused vision that has incredibly mature sensibilities. The overall aesthetics and music are the absolute tops that the genre has to offer, and Takumi Naramura proves himself to be a true master of his craft.

Developer

Nigoro

Publisher

NIS America

Genre

Action Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10

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   

Comments

Sounds like I should persevere... I was put off by the style of the game's language early on. Didn't seem to fit with the mood of the game and came across as a bit childish.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

jesusraz said:
Sounds like I should persevere... I was put off by the style of the game's language early on. Didn't seem to fit with the mood of the game and came across as a bit childish.

dont give up on it yet.

Okay, I think I'll redownload tomorrow. I'm a bit sick of Paper Mario now, and Carrion is... not quite as good as I thought it might be, despite Justin's review warning me. Thanks Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

Comment on this article

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
Flynnie, hinchjoie, lukezeppo, mikem52, Sasari

There are 5 members online at the moment.