Save the world from Malicious
In this generation, getting remastered versions of last-generation games shouldn’t be a strange concept – we have seen it before with titles like Darksiders, The Last of Us, Halo 4 (via MCC), and Final Fantasy X/X-2, and we’ll continue to see it with releases like Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 Remix.
Both Malicious and Malicious Rebirth, which released on PS3 and PS Vita respectively, join the pool of remastered games on PS4, branded as Malicious Fallen and enhanced with PlayStation 4 Pro support and 60 frames per second. In addition to the performance improvements, Fallen also brings new episodes called Pursuit and Demise – two new chapters that conclude the Malicious saga.
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Malicious Fallen (PS4)
Developer: Alvion Inc.
Released: February 21, 2016
When starting the game, you’re given the choice between a male and female character – taking the role of a Spirit Vessel – as well as how many ‘continues’ you want to begin with. While at the beginning you start off with three, you can unlock up to nine if you’re repeatedly getting game overs. Continues are counted for the entire playthrough and not per boss, so it’s best not to die often. Once you’ve finalized your choices, you are then introduced to the world of Malicious.
As the Spirit Vessel, you are tasked with saving the world from the malicious spirits the inhabit it. In order to complete this task, you are given the Mantle of Cinders as a weapon, which starts out weak but grows stronger as you progress and recover fragments of its former power by defeating enemies.
Following the introduction, you are taken to a tutorial which you can skip if you are already familiar with Malicious. I found that the tutorial wasn’t fully helpful as it doesn’t give an elaborate explanation of the mechanics, making you learn about them on your own, which proves to be a bit frustrating. However, once you get the gist of the mechanics and fully master them, the feeling can be quite rewarding.
I recently revisited the original Malicious, which released in the west on the PlayStation 3 five years ago, or seven years ago if you got the Japanese version. Right off the bat, you can tell that Fallen definitely feels like a massive improvement. For instance, the awful camera in the original almost made the game unplayable and really interfered when battling bosses. With Fallen, the camera control just feels much smoother and not like the hindrance that it was in the PS3 version.
You start with two weapons – bullets and giant fists – but will unlock the spear and the sword as you progress. Each weapon has its own use but I found the giant fists in a combination with my Aura for stronger attacks to be the most effective, and I noticed it really packs a lot of damage. Bullets also prove useful however when trying to engage from a longer distance as well as when attacking multiple enemies at the same time. Some weapons will feel quicker than others but the overall gameplay just feels really smooth and fluid, which is perfect for the fast-paced nature of Malicious.
Similar to Furi, Malicious Fallen is an action game where the focus is to fight a series of boss battles. You are given the choice to beat them in any order you want, but some prove harder than others so I still suggest tackling the easiest one first so you don’t waste your continues. Additionally, you gain a skill after these fights, increasing your arsenal of abilities when battling the others.
Alongside the bosses, there will be grunts wandering around stages. They are fairly easy to kill and defeating them gives you Aura, an essential mechanic that provides many abilities to help you complete each level. Examples of these include making your attacks stronger and chaining your kills by pressing L1, naturally at the cost of the Aura you collected from enemies. If you’re badly damaged, you can also heal yourself up at the cost of your Aura as well.
Lastly, it also grants you a power-up in the form of three tiers. The higher the level, the faster your Aura depletes – but in exchange, you get a great power boost. The latter can be quite helpful if used after a continue since you can get a few thousand Aura after being resurrected. Though considering some of the changes made in this remaster, as opposed to the original games, gathering Aura has become easier to farm, so it’s best not to die for the sake of getting an Aura boost.
The bosses are diverse and don’t feel repetitive. All of them have their own way of attacking and a pattern that is essential to learn, as well as a unique level design. A few examples include a mechanical boss where you must destroy individual parts first to lay heavy damage while another resembles Gallantmon from Digimon – a knight with a shield and a drill as a weapon.
Additionally, once you have depleted a certain amount of their health, the bosses will power up and alter their attack patterns. For instance, the Knight boss will start doing aerial attacks as well as just wander around in the air in general so you must wait for him to land before you can attack again.
Malicious is a hard game. It’s not very forgiving. If you charge on like a chicken and start spamming attacks, you should expect to be punished badly for that mistake. Granted, you can always recover your health by spending your gathered Aura but you will eventually hit a point where you don’t have any Aura to spend and you’re badly damaged. The game requires patience, good timing when blocking which will net you a great amount of Aura, and good memorization of the boss patterns. However, the last boss is the most difficult since its attacks tend to be more spontaneous.
Malicious running at a steady 60 frames per seconds is definitely a plus, which is something that I find very important in fast-paced games like this one. It just makes it a wonderful experience and worth double dipping as both games probably didn’t run this well on their original platforms and didn’t look this pleasing graphically.
Overall, Malicious Fallen is a remaster worth investing in. Not owning Rebirth on the Vita, fixing the camera issue of the PS3 version, and improving the frame rate in both versions, I had a better experience and got to explore the chapters I missed out from the saga. It’s a great action game that gave me a lot of challenge, which I always ask for. At half the price of your average retail game, I say it’s definitely worth it.