On the surface Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death could easily look like a Tomb Raider rip-off. It’s ‘lost world’ setting and platform/puzzle arrangement may look familiar to that which videogaming’s most famous heroine has endured many times over, but in reality the adventure plays more similarly to that fierce combat of Kratos’ battles. This is an action videogame through-and-through, with your only respite being the occasional logic puzzle.
The videogame begins with a cutscene which introduces several characters, only two of which actually make appearances during the bulk of the videogame; that’s including Marlow Briggs, the player character, himself. The other act as props: the bad guy, the damsel in distress and your mystical wisecracking sidekick haunted mask. There’s little to be taken seriously here and that which probably should be is so ham-fisted in it’s delivery that you’re unlikely to care, but that doesn’t mean Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death is a videogame that you should ignore.
The action of Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death is much more immediate; combo heavy and reaction-centric. It’s a videogame based on learning not only your combat arsenal but also the weaknesses of each enemy type and how to enact your greatest manoeuvres on a varied assortment of foes. Men are fast but weak, giant insects are heavily armoured but slow, and as ever flying enemies are a great annoyance. A lot of Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death is invested in its combat, as the platform action is rarely anything out of the ordinary and the puzzle system is only ever a few short-lived moments of block pushing of activating levers.
Just like God of War, Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death has a three meter system: health, mana and experience. The first two are used in-game for health and magic attacks, while the third is your experience which can then be used to improve weapons or magic in addition to gaining permanent health and mana bonuses. It’s a familiar system and one that works well in Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death due to the limited scope of its delivery.
Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death may not be anything amazing from a visual standpoint, but it’s never less than a reasonable interpretation of the reality upon which it’s based. Its fiction is flimsy and its characters uninteresting, but it remains an entertaining product nonetheless. Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death is a videogame that aspires to be something much greater than it achieves, but that doesn’t make it inherently a bad videogame. There’s plenty of enjoyment to be had here as long as you are able to look beyond it’s peers.