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.