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Mullet Mad Jack review: a simple and ultra-stylish corridor crash

Ascend a tower with the power of guns, hair and anime

Jack aims a revolver at an enemy in Mullet Mad Jack.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Hammer95/Epopeia Games

Mullets aren't just coming back into fashion, they're everywhere at the moment, adopted largely by lads who love draft beer and The Football. And seemingly by Mullet Mad Jack, the protagonist of a single-player roguelike FPS who would shove draft beers into the skull of a billionaire robot, then shoot him in the gonads. What I'm trying to say is, Mullet Mad Jack is fashionable and no-nonsense, which makes for a great hang if you'd like to burn some aggression once in a while.

Mullet Mad Jack's setup is simple and silly, taking place in a 90s anime-inspired retro-future. Robot billionaires rule the world and must feed a superbeing AI who'll die unless kept alive by dopamine. The robillionaires employ (force) people to become Moderators, who supply the raging AI with dopamine by killing other robots in a deranged game show setting. Jack's is one of these moderators, but he's on a separate quest to murder the robillionaires and free a hostage they've locked up in a tower block.

There's a catch, though. You're on a 10-second timer that ticks down unless you top it up by killing robots and pleasing the bloodthirsty AI, which is basically Twitch chat (poggers, etc). Let the robotic thugs and drones ping you with bullets or jab at you, and they'll rob time off you, too. If the timer ticks down to zero, you die, your run ends and you'll return to the bottom of the tower. Seeing as the tower has ten levels, each composed of ten stages, it's an ascent best tackled when you're buzzed off a double shot espresso or a thirst for violence.

The timer sits in Jack's left hand, also displaying a Doom-esque portrait of him that oscillates between smug ciggy poking out of curled lips if you're blasting well, to pained grimace if time's almost up. In your right hand is a revolver, capable of exacting the most basic death on the earliest robo-grunts. Then you charge - you just fully motor through corridors. You career through doors, kicking them open automatically with a bash that sends robots on the other side flying into walls. Aside from time-saving headshots, you're rewarded for kicking baddies into electrical hazards or blending them in fans. Occasionally you can pick up knives lodged in tables, and clunk them into metallic skulls for even more of a bonus.

Jack blasts an enemy with a railgun in Mullet Mad Jack.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Hammer95/Epopeia Games

It's during these bloody sprints that you appreciate the retro-anime art style, all buzzy and vibrant, and adding a lot of blinking garnish to the gore you're cooking up. Incredibly, the big numbers and flashes rarely ever make things unclear, meaning you're easily able to enter a rather beautiful flowstate.

Reach the end of a stage and you can pick from three power ups you'll keep for that run. Like a flame sword to replace your revolver, which lets you cleave enemies in two up close or from afar with a boomerang lob, one that nets you a +1 second bonus if you kill a robot by shooting them in the nuts, or another that plants red explosive barrels in convenient spots (a personal favourite). There are rail guns and plasma guns and submachine guns, all of them with their own heft, in the way they kick back or upwards as you rattle off some lead. And I particularly like how, as you power up, the levels attempt to throw off your increasing pace.

One thing, though, is that you start to notice the upgrades give off an illusion of choice. Many are just clearly weaker than others, so I found myself learning what was good and largely sticking with it across entire runs. I upgraded the railgun to the point where nothing, literally nothing, was stronger, and while I did still enjoy fulfilling a power fantasy, build crafters may be left unfulfilled by the options on offer as you motor upwards.

As you climb each level of the tower, not only do enemies multiply, but the corridors themselves are given an extra dimension to rob you of time. Early on you're introduced to acid pools you need to dash over, and later come chains that need to be shot off doors before you can break through them. If you're in a flow state, they're easy hurdles to hop over, but mistimed dashes and sudden lapses in judgement can transform them into fatal pitfalls. I like how they're never annoying themselves, as their difficulty is dictated more by how you respond to the pressure of the clock.

Jack chooses between three upgrades in Mullet Mad Jack.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Hammer95/Epopeia Games

Make it through to a tenth stage and you'll take on one of many robillionaires, each as dastardly as the next. One of the first has you take on a massive eyeball where you need to hop and dash away from laser beams. Later, they become a bit more interesting, as one sword master can't be touched by bullets, so you need to scour the environment for particularly sharp implements that might pierce through their defences. They aren't all that challenging as boss fights, but they're a welcome change in pace from all the corridor dashing.

Despite bosses adding some spice to scuffles, I wouldn't say there are all that many enemy types in general. There's a lot of robo henchmen, some drones, those that scuttle… and that's about it. The challenge truly lies in navigating the environment quickly, where most enemies tumble down in a shot or two anyway. So, in a sense, they all die fast and it doesn't matter all that much! But then again, they all die in a very similar way: you aim, you click, they explode. Perhaps instead of lots of different enemy types, it would've been interesting to see the way you kill the drones and henchman shifted to match the environment's tweaks.

Still, that's a small gripe of mine in an otherwise fun and frantic FPS. Mullet Mad Jack ia a simple, stylised crash through a lot of corridors and even if it's not going to blow you away, I'd absolutely recommend it to anyone who enjoys speed with their violence. There's additional difficulties if you're after a challenge and an Endless mode, too, if you want to see how high you can climb against random enemies and stage layouts. Mullets are very much in.

This review is based on a review build of the game provided by the developer.

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