Have You Played Marlow Briggs And The Mask Of Death?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

I remember fun. I’d almost forgotten about it, until blind chance brought me to Marlow Briggs.

Does the plot matter? Kind of. You’re Marlow Briggs, a dude. Bad stuff happens because of a cackling villain, and you’re brought back from the dead with low-key superpowers by a mystical Mayan spirit that encourages you to rampage until you get your revenge. The story’s entirely made of cliché, gleefully so, without irony or self-consciousness. There’s an early level called “The Upside-Down Helicopter Ride”, in which you… well. I won’t insult your intelligence.

Unlike your Devil May Cries and your Ninja Gaidens, Mask of Death isn’t all that demanding. It’s an unambitious example multi-dude clobbering hack and slash, but with the emphasis on a fast pace, constant motion and ludicrously spectacular set pieces instead of complexity or demanding skill. And it’s a hell of a spectacle too, particularly some cutscenes, which are hard to explain, but are like a marvellously bombastic comic converted to a 3D bullet time sequence. It’s a method begging to be imitated.

Aside from that, it does nothing original. Who cares? It’s enthusiastic and funny and exciting and silly and it’s over before you find yourself sighing and glancing at the clock. Bring back Marlow.

10 Comments

  1. haldolium says:

    Yeah, sadly it was tedious and boring. Hammering for an eternity onto some oversized scorpions because their health was ridiculous high took out the fun.

    The overal execution and the nice and colorful level design was rather good though, but combat itself was awful.

    • Jekhar says:

      Exactly this. The over-the-top-ness was nice at first, but later enemies just took way too long to defeat. It sucked the fun right away. Also, i wonder why this game get’s praise for it’s cheese, while Bombshell doesn’t. I didn’t play the latter, but from the look of things, both occupy the same niche.

      • TΛPETRVE says:

        Simple: Because Bombshell is not funny. There’s not a single instance of genuine wit in the game. In fact, I’d argue that even Duke Nukem Forever was funnier, which says a lot. Now, Marlow Briggs on the other hand is quite the opposite; contrary to what the article says it is very well self-conscious, and otherwise it’s best described as the inbred, mutated bastard child of God of War and Just Cause.

  2. Andrew says:

    If people stop making games right this instant, I still would have something to play for couple of years, easily, just on PC alone. *sigh*

    • Darth Gangrel says:

      If I never bought a game again, I still would have something to play for couple of years, easily, just on PC alone. *sigh*

  3. whbboyd says:

    Spoiler warning did a season of Marlow Briggs. (Note that they play through and commentate the entire thing, so, uh, spoiler warning.) The game is fun and silly at first but seriously drags towards the end.

  4. Thirith says:

    I enjoyed the game, but so much of the actual design (levels, enemies, balancing) is uneven to bad. The game makes up for this by sheer personality, but there were quite a few moments that made me wonder if anyone had played through this and given feedback to the designers. None of them are huge, but they still make the game look sloppily designed. E.g. why place two items that refill your health when there are no enemies or other obstacles in between where you can actually lose health? Similarly, several of the on-rails segments made me want to tear out what hair I’ve got left, reminding me of nothing so much as Dragon’s Lair.

  5. Gotem says:

    It was an unexpected surprise for me. I think it has one of the best intros to a new ability that after one of those epic cutscenes you are told to try the new power and it destroys all the enemies on the screen, that felt very satisfying.

    It does get tiresome with all the scorpions which made me wonder if there was something I was doing something wrong because it takes a ridiculous amount of time to kill each of them.

  6. JuergenDurden says:

    i have, because of articles like this. i found it to be unbearable slog and uninstalled it after about 90 minutes.
    i can only urge people to ignore it.