“A dark civilization that lived long before mankind and a king powerful enough to rule the devil, Kindar! He ruled his world cruelly for three thousand years. He sent the men who did not surrender to the underground kingdom filled with pain and torture. No one could come back. But one mysterious person managed to escape. According to legend he was an assassin, or to some, an exiled king. He was overcoming every obstacle in his path and moving towards Kindar’s Castle with anger and vengeance in his red eyes. Evil forces could no longer stop him.”
So begins the adventure of Mahluk Dark Demon, a good old fashioned action platformer with medieval horror vibes running through it. Mahluk was originally released on steam back in 2016 and now aims to gain new life on everybody’s favourite hybrid, the Nintendo Switch. But how does our grim hero hold up five years later? Let’s take a look.
Black or Very Dark Grey
Before we get into the gameplay we have to throw it out there, we love the art style of Mahluk. Simplistic and effective with its use of silhouette and shadows to portray characters and scenery against a gloomy backdrop. It set’s the tone nicely and proves that minimalism can still be effective when done right. The game itself will feel familiar to anyone who has ever played an action platformer which is most likely everyone who is reading this review.
Sixteen levels are on offer throughout this adventure and despite feeling pretty familiar with its balanced mix of attacking, jumping and attacking while jumping with a dose of hitting switches, opening loot boxes and navigating a series of moving and disappearing platforms, we had a pretty good time. The combat is basic but effective, the jumping is responsive and features the classic double jump ability. The levels, although linear, had a few hidden areas to locate which rewarded us with health, gold and some magic items that consisted of fire or ice attacks.
Mahluk doesn’t try to over complicate things or reinvent the wheel but instead focuses on providing a back to basics experience done well and for the most part, this works. Each level is a reasonable length and provided us with three lives but once these are spent we were back to the start of the level or a checkpoint if we had reached one, though there were not many times we found ourselves struggling. Outside of a couple of particularly jumpy, slashy scenarios involving moving platforms, our adventure went fairly smoothly.
This accessibility makes Mahluk a good choice for gamers of all ages though may be a slight turn off for those among us that have become more accustomed to the buttock clenching difficulties which have become commonplace in recent years. This will be particularly evident in the three boss fights, each boss features a basic attack pattern that is simple to learn and won’t offer much of a challenge. Progression is also minimal, though coin is available to collect and spend in a store, the offerings are fairly measly and to be honesty, we forgot about the shop for most of our playthrough.
In addition to the campaign, there is a multiplayer offering featuring two modes. One is a split-screen affair that challenges two players to go head to head in completing a level, the player who completes it first, wins. There is also a head to head battle mode and although we didn’t get to spend much time with either, we cannot see these modes offering much in the way of replay value.
As you can probably imagine from a game of this nature, everything runs smoothly in both docked and handheld mode. The art style pops nicely in both with a simple but effective sound design bringing locations to life as we slashed our way through the thirty enemy types that stalk the lands. The only minor gripe we had with the art style was it sometimes made it tricky to determine what was a safe path and what was a hazard. Some thorny hedges were fine to walk past as scenery but others would cause us harm. Controls were user friendly, jumping is performed with B while attacking is performed with A and magic attacks being performed with X.
Mahluk is a fun action platformer that won’t blow you away but will offer some tried and tested fun to keep gamers old and young entertained for a couple of hours. Outside of the cool art style, there isn’t much to shout about so if you are not a die-hard fan of the genre you may want to wait for a sale.
Review code provided
Platform: PC, PlayStation, Nintendo
Release Date: 25/03/2021
No. of Players: 1-2
Category: Adventure, Arcade, Platformer
Developer: Dolores Entertainment
Publisher: Dolores Entertainment
Download link: US eShop / UK eShop