Retro gaming and I have always enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship, and as such, I often find myself returning to the classics to remind myself of a simpler time. A time where there were no bills to pay, no job to go to, and no responsibilities; just solely dedicated to playing many hours of addictive games on my PC. So, when I was scrolling through Steam and saw the retro style platform-shooter Muri by Remar Games and Ludosity, I was instantly reminded of my youth and hit purchase without a moment of hesitation. Being fascinated by the rolling video of DOS style graphics, it brought me back fond memories of classic games such as Commander Keen, BioMenace and the Duke Nukem series. The attention to detail, the jerky frame-rate and the low-fi sounds presented a true retro inspired game that could have easily been mistaken for a forgotten gem from twenty years ago.
Essentially, the game begins with a team of scientists venturing out to Mars to design a weaponed armour suit. However, this starts a power battle between the factions of Earth and Mars, which subsequently causes the planet of Mars to suddenly vanish. One of the female scientists, Adwoa, embarks on a voyage to find out what really happened with the disappearance of the planet. It’s a fairly simple premise but suits the tone of the game well.
However, with that said, it’s important to clarify that simple doesn’t mean thoughtless. It’s clear the development team had done their homework when constructing the core design, and this is evident in the colour palette and pixels which have been carefully crafted throughout the game. Additionally, the level design is well thought out, with each individual episode displays it’s own unique style. The shadowy surroundings to the dark and abandoned laboratories definitely add to the mystery of the tale and help progress the story forward.
In Muri, the gameplay is based around a common formula that has been used in many retro games throughout the years, but it is still a fun romp as the action is nonstop. Your goal is to simply guide your character to the exit all the while blasting away enemies, collect cells and picking up weapon upgrades. There is a great variety of enemies compromised of humanoid robots, wall-turrets and hovering laser beams. Their attack patterns are also diverse offering you a challenging experience with each enemy you face. It is relatively easy on normal mode early in the game, but gradually becomes quite difficult with new dangerous enemies and challenging bosses battles.
Most of the game is a run-and-shoot style, but there are a lot of secret sections and bonus items to encourage player exploration. You’re equipped with six different weapons, and they all offer a great assortment of destruction, although your primary blaster is still quite effective. Funnily enough, if you’re feeling like a Super Mario moment, you can also jump on top of the enemies’ heads to defeat them, which I thought was a nice touch.
It’s also very interesting to note that you can choose to render the game to 16 or 32 frames per second as it only takes 2 hours to complete; I thought this was a great feature if you wanted to replay the game with a different style. One missing feature I noticed was the lack of background music during the gameplay, this might have been an artistic choice, but I believe it would have completed the experience, particularly during shoot-em-up battles.
If you’re looking for an old school style game that you used to boot-up on your PC as a kid, then MURI is definitely a game that’s worth trying out. Additionally, it’s also ideal for gamers on a budget as it’s only a mere $4.30 AUD, which is hard deal to pass up. Overall, Muri looks and plays like a genuine game from the past; it doesn’t try to be a clone of classic platform-shooters, but acts as a love letter to the fantastic games that we all grew up with.