An intriguing concoction, Marlow Briggs outwardly riffs on blaxploitation cinema and mid-’90s action games like Acclaim’s Shadow Man. The plot follows the burly, eccentric, working-class black hero Briggs, aided by a wise-cracking mystical mask, as he takes on the cunning Fu Manchu-esque villain responsible for kidnapping his girlfriend.
The script is sharp, the one-liners snappy and the cutscenes and set-pieces come thick, fast and appropriately daft as you traverse the lush jungle and industrial settings taking down an army of seemingly cloned henchmen and nasty otherworldly creatures. For its first hour, Briggs’ journey is a festival of explosions and short, sharp beats.
The game’s charisma soon wears thin, however, as underneath it all lies a mediocre God Of War clone without Sony Santa Monica’s sense of pace, subtle framing or Kratos’ sense of power and feedback. Briggs’ combos and flurries of blade-whirling strikes look fabulous in motion but feel flimsy due to poor collision detection and confusing character animations that get lost in the fray of effects and acrobatics.
There’s no sense of strength or weight to your actions despite how extravagant the carnage becomes. The other distractions the campaign offers are equally shallow, too, from banal box-pushing puzzles to tiresome turret sections. There are sparks of personality and glimpses of presentational prowess, but like many entries in the cinematic movement it nods to, Marlow Briggs is a game all about style with little substance.
Marlow Briggs And The Mask Of Death is available now on Steam and XBLA.