La-Mulana:  A sprite-based exploration game. It can't be that hard, can it?

This game offers up a different type of challenge. So, as a warning, if there is anything in this first paragraph that seems daunting, just move on to another game. Before we even start the game, there are a few guidelines we will need to go over. First, you are going to need are a pencil and notebook. This is mandatory and nonnegotiable, which I will explain later. Second is the manual, which is available on Steam. It must be read. Third, is patience, and lots of it. If you are a controller thrower, go ahead and move on. The last should be time. This is not a game that can be conquered on a quiet Sunday after noon or even a weekend for that matter. Still with me? Let’s get started then.


This is the Gates of Guidance. You it's easy, right? Just wait, fucker.

La-Mulana is an exploration game where your character explores the huge-as-fuck ruins of La-Mulana. “Huge-as-fuck” is not an exaggeration; the ruins contain about 15+ connected areas with the area outside being its own sizable portion. Each of these areas is filled with traps, monsters, and hazardous areas that are engineered to make your hero go squish. This isn't just a tough platformer either as there is a heavy emphasis on exploring. As you will see, there are clues littered everywhere; on tablets, corpses, and even sometimes on the background images themselves. Some of these clues don't even correspond to the level you are on, hence, the note taking. Your character, which could only have only been inspired from Indiana Jones, starts of with a tiny whip and a laptop, which prove from the very start to be inadequate at the least. There's not an in-depth tutorial or a wall of text intro to set you in the right direction. For a quick example, no one will tell you that purchasing the hand scanner is essential to reading the bodies and tablets in the ruins. Pssssst. Read the manual. I think that's what really sets this game apart from all the rest. While it's not necessarily a tough platformer (oh god are there rough spots), it's that while there are pieces of information scattered everywhere, there is not anything spelled out for you. You have to piece together these scattered hints in the texts, graphics, and gameplay to forge ahead.

The ruins want to kill you including the fire breathing two headed snake.

Here's an example of why I think this game is fucking great. I was in the Mausoleum of Giants trying to figure out where the ankh was. I've been keeping a real notebook with the weird and bizarre texts from any tablet that I find in game. I flip through it to a passage where it names the different giants in a long hallway. I also flip to another passage where it alludes to placing a weight at the foot of the giant. Placing it unlocked a chest and nabbed me an orb that bumped up my life. It wasn't an ankh but it did the trick. There are not many exploration games that make me feel like an explorer and I really felt like one scribbling and cross-referencing notes like a fucking crazy person. La-Mulana is atmospheric in a way that is completely unique to the genre. This game is not for everyone; I have to fucking stress that relentlessly. However, for those that want a challenge and like puzzles that are deeper than most, this game is for you.