Mulaka | Garrulous Gaming Gallops

If you followed this site, then you know that I am very active in supporting indigenous people, despite not being indigenous myself.

Narrowing The Narrative

10/10

It is about the Tarahumara myth of the shaman having to cure the world of corruption brought about by the wolf-like Teregori. The plot is very simple to understand and I have no objections to it. The ending gets to the point as to why Teregori exists in the first place, which can really make you think about what the Tarahumara thought about evil. Indeed, there are many Tarahumara aetiological tales in the loading screens and in the descriptions of the objects, which can make you immersed in Tarahumara culture.

Crafting Characters?

8/10

We don’t learn anything about the shaman besides the fact that there are monsters and evil spirits and he is needed. It may be the point of the game, since the developers probably did not want to bog down the player with endless exposition. They are already in the position to use all of Tarahumara mythology to explain the plot, which they did so in a succinct way; however, it would be best to think of the playable character as the typical shaman in the mythology with nothing special about him.

Wandering Wonderous Worlds?

8/10

The landscape views are quite pristine for a sleek, minimalist aesthetic. However, when you come up close to them, they are not as profound as they appear. Granted, you have the ability to race across the landscape. The sand dunes of the pilgrimage site can definitely remove the blandness of having a wide, open field. In fact, every region has its own distinctness that never leaves you bored.

The jungle and coastal regions can also test your navigation skills, just as much as the sand dunes will.

Many Mollifying Moves?

4/10

The move set I cannot say is anything worthwhile, since it is as dated as the graphics, though I will explain later what I think about the graphics. The movement is janky while the auto-lock-on did nothing to help. The spear-throwing aiming mechanic may be the worst of all, since there is no smoothness to maneuvering the aim. Also, there have been plenty of moments when I used the downward cut, only to find it did not come close to the target.

Of course, the game in the later stages test your ability to use the move set. It does so in such a way that it does not overwhelm you, yet manages to get you to glue your eyes to the screen.

Finding Fun Farming?

3/10

Not really. The only opportunities you must acquire power-ups is by finding jars and fighting monsters.

Siphoning Side-Quest Signs?

4/10

The side quests involve communicating with past spirits, finding artifacts, and buying new power-ups for Mulaka. I can’t say they were worth it, but I needed the spirit points to be able to buy moves, so I had to find the jars and to fight off the monsters to collect them. It’s never made clear my reward is for completing all stages 100%. I would have bumped the score up if there were rewards for each individual stage that I completed, however they did not exist.

Grappling Graphics?

8/10

I can see why the developers decided to use that PlayStation 2-era graphics with a minimalist twist. It is meant to appeal to indigenous people who grew up during the relevance of the PlayStation 2, as though telling them it is possible for them to become game designers. The designs of the characters and the monsters are too simple for the design—though once again that may be the point.

It may have also been the point of the cutscenes involving the guardian spirits. Although they were still images, they evoked that passive mysticism of the Tarahumara in such a way that it does not come off as overblown or over-the-top.

With such simple design comes faster load screens. For that, I had to bump the original score from 7 to 8.

Mention Mighty Music?

9/10

Each theme song of the stages perfectly fit, since they combined the indigenous music with modern orchestral music without being overblown. Every music smoothly fit within the stages. Even the discovery sound-bite fit.

Intriguing Interconnections?

7/10

Playing this game, it was like I found a PS2 game from 2005 that I never played and never saw advertisements for. It does bring back nostalgia for me—in both good and bad ways. For anyone who does not remember the PS2 relevance, this game might appear simplistic.

Would I say that the game is worth $19.99?  The thing is that it would be one thing to say that you are supporting the indigenous arts and indigenous creators, however, I must remain unbiased.

While the controls and the lack of convincing side-quests can influence the game poorly, the way that the game’s characteristics themselves come together is one that I would expect from a beginning indie team—and this might be the good way to start. With the exception of the modern colloquialisms, barebones stage exploration, and janky controls, everything in this game comes together nicely.

Skimming, Scavenging Score

6.77/10

I never had any strong feelings of accomplishment after beating the game, rather just a “meh.” I should not have that reaction, however I could not find it within me to have any strong emotion other than “So, this is what the Tarahumara people belief.”

6/10

If I am going to judge this game based on my standard, unbiased convention, then I would say that this game might not be the best.

Recommend Recklessly To…

  • Any indigenous person, Tamahumara or not, who grew up during the relevance of the PS2.
  • Anyone willing to teach Tarahumara culture in anyway. While “Mulaka” as a game might not appease them, “Mulaka” as entertainment might provide a surficial understanding of their culture.

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