Everyone loves a good B movie that delivers a ton of entertainment despite the lack of budget. Sometimes it is the cheesy charm of the characters, the outrageous plot, or the predictability of what is going to happen next that keeps you watching, even though movie critics around the globe would cringe at the thought of even looking on for a moment. Far too often, videogames provide the same entertainment, but lack a few of the key elements that keep the player going strong till the end. From the preview trailer Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death fit the bill of a B-movie turned video game, but does 505 games deliver it in a package that will keep the gamer engrossed until its conclusion?
For some unknown reason the drama always starts with a damsel in distress and when Marlow Briggs, a meathead firefighter, decides to take a vacation to visit his girlfriend who is working on an archaeological dig site somewhere in Central America, we can already imagine what is about to transpire. Or can we? Well if nothing else, the plot stays on a fairly predictable path where our token evil overlord wants to harness the power of ancient relics, but when Marlow tries to take his girlfriend out of harm’s way before her job is complete, he meets the sharp end of an antediluvian spear. Low and behold that spear awakens the Mask of Death that brings Marlow back to life because he is “the chosen warrior” that will restore things to the way they should be. From this point forward you’ll be hacking and slashing your way through a variety of environments with your new found powers and wise cracking side kick, the Mask of Death, all for the sake of love.
The controls are easy to master and the combos easily strung together if you’ve ever played any other fighter or hack and slash style game. Occasionally you’ll find the camera is at an awkward angle that leads to the demise of Marlow, but that isn’t always bad as you’ll get some comical jibe from the mask making fun of you for falling to your death or questioning your manhood. Specialized weapons that can be upgraded and magical abilities that allow you to call fire from the heavens or throw daggers at unreachable nuisances add a nice blend to the combat. Enemies are plentiful, but it seems that Emperor Palpatine helped spring for this army of clones that are carbon copied throughout the game. The big boss battles are a refreshing change of pace from the monotony of traversing through the various levels and troves of foes.
Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death won’t awe you with astounding visuals, but it is competent enough to get the job done. Character models look decent from afar, but the textures aren’t well defined during the close ups. Explosions, special abilities, and close up fatality shots add to the B-movie vibe providing lots of cheesy entertainment value. Level designs have you negotiating through a variety of locations ranging from giant industrial factories to bug infested jungles that all have their own perils. Background music matches the pace of the game with tons of drum laden beats and sound effects impart a sense of satisfaction as you slice your way through enemies and blow stuff up.
Voice acting is one of the shining points of Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death. Although corny at times, each character is portrayed perfectly and adds depth to a generic storyline. The rich villain sounds like The Hangover’s Mr. Chow and Marlow’s girlfriend fits the blonde stereotype.
Overall Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death supplies around 8 hours of action packed, over the top adventure that can drag on at some points. The hack and slash gameplay is easy to master and the game adds in some basic elements of platforming as well as mixing in a handful of easy to solve puzzles. Visuals are run of the mill, but the audio and voice acting help keep this B-movie storyline on track and the gamer wanting to make it through the end. Marlow Briggs is a very forgettable game that won’t grace your screen after you beat it the first time, unless you want to run through it for all the achievements. Still, for a budget title that uses the same formula many other games have used and failed at, it achieves all it sets out to be: A game which single purpose is to entertain while not taking itself too seriously. If you’re looking to take a little break from GTA 5 or waiting on the next big title to release, Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death is a worthy distraction.
Score 7/10 - Review by Jake Lyons