Just recently, actor Brendan Fraser offered up his thoughts on why 2017’s The Mummy failed to garner both critical and commercial success. The movie, starring Tom Cruise and Sofia Boutella, was meant to serve as the jumping off point for Universal Pictures’ ‘Dark Universe’, which would effectively link together multiple projects based on the classic ‘Universal Monster’ movies. After The Mummy gained overwhelming negative reception from critics and consumers alike — sitting at an appalling 15% critic score and 35% audience score respectively on Rotten Tomatoes — Universal Pictures abandoned its ambitions for an interconnected cinematic universe.
When prompted for his thoughts on the movie, Fraser stated the following (courtesy of Variety):
“It is hard to make that movie. The ingredient that we had going for our Mummy, which I didn’t see in that film, was fun. That was what was lacking in that incarnation. It was too much of a straight-ahead horror movie. ‘The Mummy’ should be a thrill ride, but not terrifying and scary.”
Fraser, of course, starred in three of his own movies based on the long-running Mummy franchise. Released between 1999 and 2008, these gained significantly more praise from audiences for their focus on adventure over horror, though it’s safe to say 2008’s Tomb of the Dragon Emperor failed to match the success of the prior two movies. How well these stand up in 2022 is certainly up for debate — although the first one, in particular, is generally held up as a swashbuckling genre classic these days — but there’s no doubt that Fraser was correct in his assessment that the 2017 reboot lacked a sense of fun.
We can’t completely write off 2017’s The Mummy though, for its existence led to the development of one of the greatest licensed games of all time, The Mummy Demastered, which just so happens to be celebrating its fifth anniversary today. Created by WayForward Technologies — known for its previous work on the Shantae franchise — we can’t think of a better game that’s come from a lesser ‘source’ than The Mummy Demastered.
It’s a standalone game that takes place concurrently with the events of the movie. You play as a soldier who works for the Prodigium Organisation, tasked with locating and taking down Princess Ahmanet, the titular ‘Mummy’ character.
It’s as straightforward a plot as you could possibly hope for in a tie-in video game, but there are a few interesting twists chucked in to keep players on their toes. If you die in the game, you’ll respawn as a different soldier, but the body of your former protagonist will have reanimated, forcing you to take down a zombified version of your former self in order to retrieve key items left behind. This mechanic is then further explored in the ending of the game, with up to three possible conclusions available depending on your performance, with a special ending being unlocked if you manage to get through the entire game without dying once.
Perhaps most importantly, however, The Mummy Demastered managed to achieve something that the movie couldn’t; something that Brendan Fraser had so succinctly communicated in just a few short sentences. It was fun. Really fun, in fact! Taking inspiration from the likes of Contra, Castlevania, and Ghosts ‘n Ghouls, The Mummy Demastered is a pixel art Metroidvania in which you navigate through a labyrinthine environment filled to the brim with undead beasts. You’ll encounter locked passageways that will subsequently open up whole new areas once you locate the key or item required to proceed.
As you progress, you gain new weaponry (grenades, powerful machine guns, and the like) along with invaluable health upgrades. To counter this, the game introduces new enemy types and boss characters that will test the skills of even the more hardcore Metroidvania fan. There’s nothing here that hasn’t necessarily been done before (and arguably better, in some instances), but it’s simple, straightforward fun with none of the pomp or absurdity from the movie itself.
In fact, aside from the occasional brief appearance from Russel Crowe and Sofia Boutella, the game almost actively distances itself from the movie, and it’s all the better for it. Expecting to play a running simulator starring Tom Cruise? Think again. Looking forward to some comedic cutscenes featuring a ghostly Jake Johnson? Well, you ain’t gonna get it here, friend. We reckon some folks might be put off by the idea of a game based on such a terrible movie, and in some respects, we wouldn’t be surprised if the link between the two actively harmed the success of The Mummy Demastered. A demake of the Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz movie? Heck, that would get the crowds in! The Tom Cruise one? Erm, nah, you’re alright.
However, if you’re a fan of Metroidvanias and have yet to play WayForward’s take on The Mummy, then do yourselves a favour and get it downloaded ASAP! It’s thrilling and captivating in equal measure, and that’s the same now as it was five years ago; in short, it’s everything the movie isn’t.
Let us know in the comments what you make of The Mummy Demastered and the ill-fated film. Is it the best game to come from a bad film?