Full Mojo Rampage, developed by Over The Top Games, is a homage to both Voodoo and a variety of classic games. From Rogue-likes to Diablo 3, and even the twin-stick shooter genre, it is clearly inspired by a lot of things. Can it all come together to do them justice, or did their sacrifices fail to deliver?
The masks are pretty awesome.
It doesn't start well as most of the interface and non-gameplay elements are clunky and confusing. When a chapter is chosen, the "match" is randomly generated creating a bunch of levels and events on a small, simple map. Each of the levels within has been procedurally generated, although their order and themes tend to stay consistent across matches of that chapter. For instance, the first chapter has a series of levels that go through a canyon, a graveyard, and a bog sequentially almost every match, with a mid-world boss battle against the same enemy and the occasional underground dungeon mixed in. After going through each level and potentially visiting the optional event spots along the top and bottom, the player is presented with a final boss.
Aside from mixing up the location of the dungeon and randomizing the events that appear off the main path, this world map doesn't serve much of a purpose. Your options are to go to the next level or branch off to one of the events that is attached to a completed level, if they exist. The world map doesn't allow access to a stats menu to change loads, to level up your character, or any such thing. In order to level up the character, players have to leave this world map and start up a completely new match, erasing any progress made on that world map. This also costs the player their inventory, with their "Voodoo Soul" maintaining any coins, medals, pins, or experience accrued. The same thing happens upon death.
While colorful and charming at first, expect to see this a lot.
The result is destructive. After the first few attempts at a chapter, the most likely place to die is during the final boss battle, meaning that players have to retread anywhere between 20 to 45 minutes worth of content that they've already conquered just to try again. This makes it exceptionally hard to jump in and test new strategies against a challenging adversary. Ironically, this has ended up as a non-issue because of how leveling works. Since the player can't level up during the match, they're usually restarting the match with a leveled up character from what they had mere moments ago. After steamrolling through all of those levels again, it's common to destroy the end boss. What was originally a trying and entertaining battle that required wits and strategy in the first attempt is laughably easy on the second attempt.
As mentioned, this affects the moment to moment gameplay as well. While Full Mojo Rampage is billed as Rogue-like, and it is to some degree at the most topical level, it plays much more like a twin-stick shooter with RPG elements. The first time through a set of levels is interesting as enemy types and attack patterns are learned. Reaching the final boss tends to require that your Voodoo Soul is leveled up, meaning that the basic levels and enemies are replayed over and over again. The mundanity of repeatedly fighting these enemies is exacerbated as the player character quickly outstrips their power, blowing them over with just a few quick attacks while gliding around as if on roller skates. Upon starting a new chapter, there is some excitement that returns with finding a couple of new enemy types, but this quickly falls into the same rhythm of boredom. There are several classes with different special spells and abilities, but most of the strategy falls by the wayside as it becomes more about spamming these abilities than using them in any clever way, which is exacerbated again by the lack of need for them when so quickly outpacing your enemies.
This is your character page, sometimes accessible through the main menu.
Collecting items throughout these levels starts off as pretty basic, and that's a shame as this is one of the few mechanics of Full Mojo Rampage that is compelling. Players start with a tiny inventory that includes a wand slot, two equipment slots, and three additional inventory slots. Wands function similar to power-ups from other games that amplify the capabilities of the base attack by adding fire, producing multiple shots instead of one, or any number of other effects. Most other items fall into the category of Mojos, which is a class of equipment that carries special effects, or consumables such as health potions or stat boosts.
A few particularly rare items offer bonuses by holding them while achieving a certain task with the promise of a boost later, taking up a spot that could otherwise be used for something more vital, such as an additional inventory slot or a heal. Juggling these items, prioritizing which items to keep and which to leave behind, is compelling especially when considering the chances of finding a Mojo Mixer that allows Mojos to be combined. Do you hold on to a Mojo that can't be equipped at the moment in the hopes of being able add it to another Mojo later, or do you toss it and grab the potion instead?
There are a lot of great items, but rarely does the vendor have anything interesting.
The Mojos themselves are a part of the magic of the game and there is a love to what was made. Your Voodoo Apprentice is cute in that way that kids with crazy masks are cute. The levels make use of a wide variety of colors and little details, the music is fun, and the goofy, exaggerated nature of the enemies is charming. If only there was more. Most of the art is seen within 30 seconds of entering a level and the musical selection is limited. It's a testament to how well done both are that they don't grow to become irritating over time and that the music is even a bit catchy, but there's just not enough of it to keep the player's interest for long.
Despite having a full suite of multiplayer components, there wasn't much that could be tested. Aside from a single co-op match with a single other person, I wasn't able to find any other players despite repeated attempts. There are competitive and cooperative modes listed in the menu, but none of them seem to have active players. The co-op session in which I participated was short and the player was relatively new, not having anything but the most basic character class unlocked, so I wasn't able to see how the special spells of characters really interacted. During local co-op, the game seems to be able to bring in the character from another profile, but this character doesn't appear to be permanent. Upon death, it just disappears as if it never existed and the game continues in single player. This is in contrast to the online version where players have a pool of three lives to share before losing.
Two worlds later, more skeletons!
Trophies in Full Mojo Rampage are well fleshed out. There are trophies for the main game chapters, certain simple feats, both co-op and competitive multiplayer, and the additional game modes such as survival. At first blush, none of the trophies appears to be particularly challenging, but it's hard to tell just how difficult they could get on some of the higher difficulties, of which there are many. These could very easily just boil down to grinding up to a high enough level to beat them, but it could alternatively require a four player balanced co-op team, which may be next to impossible to find. Many of the other trophies are just a matter of time, such as collecting a certain number of coins, or they're chance based, such as meeting three different gods in one match. None of these seem too difficult overall with practice, although they may feel like a bit of a slog since that's what the game is in itself.
SummaryFull Mojo Rampage is a game with a lot of different inspirations and the developer has made a solid effort at all of it. The twin-stick like mechanics work, the progression systems make your character more powerful, and the world is clearly lovingly crafted, but it's not enough. Ultimately, that solid effort only ever reaches the realm of "fine." Most of the game's visual charm is seen within 30 seconds of entering a level, the inability to level up mid-match results in your character being propelled from overwhelmed to overpowered between individual matches, and the twin-stick gameplay ramps up too slowly to stay exciting. In the end, Full Mojo Rampage is a fine game in which to dabble, but each of its elements have been done much better elsewhere.
- Start-stop progression
- Bland twin-stick mechanics
- Lack of world variety
- Basic class system
Brandon played for roughly 8 hours, enough time to attempt to test multiplayer and singleplayer while seeing little variation throughout the experience. He earned only five of the 26 available trophies. The PlayStation 4 copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.
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