While not the most practical weapon, there is something inherently cool about whips. This may account for why recognizable heroes throughout the ages have employed these serpentine weapons whether they were fighting against nazis or Dracula. Lumisa Kosugi may not be as recognizable as Dr. Jones or any number of people from the Belmont bloodline, but she does have enough common sense to know when one goes spelunking through ancient mystical tombs one needs to pack two valuable pieces of equipment: a stylish fedora and a long strand of leather that creates a satisfying snap when used against those that wish you harm.
Lumisa Kosugi, our heroine of La-Mulana 2 may be stylized more as a female counterpart to Indiana Jones than the famous vampire hunters of the 8-bit era but when stepping into her boots the player death scene will be viewed just as frequently as it were in with Trevor and Simon Belmont. La-Mulana 2 is a challenging action adventure puzzle game where death lurks around every corner and the clues to help solve the puzzles of the tomb are written with the clear and cohesive manner as the direction that was given in Simon’s Quest. What started as a superficial reference to Castlevania with defending oneself from pesky bats with a whip has opened up quite a rabbit hole, but coming from me, any comparison to Castlevania is generally good.
La-Mulana 2 is a metroidvania that takes place five years after its predecessor. The ruins of La-Mulana have collapsed but the original entrance has become quite a popular tourist trap. This is all fine and dandy until monsters start appearing. To back peddle just a bit, the cause of the collapse of La-Mulana was never conclusively figured out, though when the village chief looks to Lumeza’s archeology society for help it becomes apparent that they are in a bit of hot water since they have become a bit of a scapegoat for the collapse. Eg-Lana, on the other side of the La-Mulana ruins, was once a penal colony, which has turned into an evil, hateful place as the spirits of the dead in penal colonies have a tendency to do. Lumisa shows up to save the day and solve the mystery of Eg-Lana, but as the saying goes a heroine dies but one death whereas a video game heroine dies a kazillion times.
Dying a kazillion deaths is literally how many times a player can expect to die in La-Mulana 2, which is said with absolutely zero hyperbole. The good news is dying is part of the fun of figuring out what you’re supposed to do, since the hints given in the game kind of point the player in the right direction but offer no real help. There are puzzles that involve activating statues or pulling switching. At one point I found a giant boulder suspended from the ceiling, and even though I knew freeing it from its suspension apparatus would result in Lumisa being squished like a cockroach in a hospital I had to liberate it, and thus that led to death 912 in the half hour session with the demo. There are pitfalls, spikes, random evil eyes that shoot laser beams and all kinds of hostile creatures living within these tombs.
Despite the sheer level of difficulty, La-Mulana 2 is quite enjoyable. It doesn’t even try to hold the player’s hand a little bit but that results in a greater sense of accomplishment when progress is actually made. The nonlinear structure is rife with exploration and while the puzzles are never quite obvious tinkering around with whatever direction the vague hints provide does lead to solving them before too much frustration sets in. La-Mulana 2 is showing potential to be a must play for fans of metroidvanias who possess a high pain threshold.