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Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death

By Toast05-11-2013
Bis18marck70 (editor)
StuntmanLT (editor)
Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death

The Defence

505 Games
Action, Adventure
Release Date:

The Prosecution

Intel Core 2 Quad 2.5 GHz
AMD equivalent
Nvidia GeForce GTS 650
AMD Radeon HD 6750
4 GB
3 GB

The Case

ZootFly aren’t known for any great titles per se. Indeed, their last one was a rather poorly received The Expendables 2. However their newest title, Marlow Briggs, might just redeem this studio in the eyes of the industry for it seems to employ an interesting concept, taking inspiration directly from titles such as God of War and bringing with it a wealth of features and elements for what could be an engaging and entertaining combat system. But do these impressions come with substance or is the game another waste of bits and bytes?

The Trial

So, the story. We have a hero, we have a villain. Simple really. Named Heng Long, the latter and his horde of evil minions have kidnapped Marlow’s girl and now it’s time for our hero to seek revenge with the help of his new companion - a crazed magic wielding mask with a grudge. Hey, it isn’t original, but it works with some added twists and turns. Besides, the dialogue is very amusing in places, from the mask that helps you, to Long’s hilarious comments to his employees and henchmen.

Special Delivery!

Special Delivery!

From the first combat scenario, it’ll be instantly clear that the combat is a strong aspect to the overall game. Why? Because when you’re infused with ancient magic and powerful weaponry that can easily kill your any enemy, you get the feeling of being unstoppable. Really, how is that not fun? You can die easily if not careful, but facing off against multiple opponents, it’s all about chaining up the combos by mixing and matching with different weapons and magical abilities. When you know how to dodge, block and attack at the right moment, you’ll just plough through anything standing in your way. At times, you’ll be presented with perfect opportunities to rain down hell upon your enemies with special powers, like a fire storm. There is nothing like seeing all the enemies around you burn or freeze to death.

You gain access to more weaponry and magical abilities as you progress in the game. At the end, you’ll wield a total of 4 different weapons, with 4 magical abilities each, all with accompanying upgrades to improve their effectiveness. To buy these upgrades you’ll need to gain experience points which are obtained by, how could it be any different: killing enemies, picking up golden masks, hidden collectibles, finishing challenges and by attacking the ground that emits yellow fumes. Besides the golden masks for experience, the other 2 masks provide mana and health (red for health, blue for mana), which are obviously important, especially the ones that grant experience points for upgrades to weapons and abilities.

Marlow Briggs - The Scorpion King.

Marlow Briggs - The Scorpion King.

With upgrades, not only do the weapons or magic improve, but so does your damage, health or mana, enabling you to strike forth versus thy enemy. Oh yeah, enemies! We can’t forget about those. You’ll be meeting a range of different enemies, including the common henchmen hired by Heng Long, to some special variants with flamethrowers and other nasty stuff. You won’t be just seeing humans though, you’ll be seeing bugs (the biological ones, not the digital kind), lots of them and in many forms. Have a fear of scorpions? Well, you’ll be wanting to squash it quickly when up against one, but the cool thing is that you can take control of it once it’s almost killed. This isn’t limited to scorpions however, some other mini-bosses can be exploited upon near-death.

You’ll be up against some unique bosses, some scary, some easy and you should prepare to encounter mini-bosses, sometimes a few at a time, fairly often. Some later bosses will require multiple steps in order to be defeated by performing platforming elements, something you’d probably expect, because, well, scaling up the difficulty and so on.

This is why I don't like Balls.

This is why I don't like Balls.

Platforming wise, you’ll be running through different levels and areas by leaping from platform to platform, dodging dangerous traps, climbing from edges to avoid a large gap that can’t be passed any other way. You’ll also be hugging walls, swinging and sliding from different places, nothing that isn’t new but doesn’t hurt to have and is used appropriately. In short, it’s standard platforming which draws on some of the newer mechanics to keep itself up to date.

One minus for the game is that the main graphic settings within the game are non-existent, except for a resolution change, which is quite disappointing as well as restrictive. You can still map your keys, which is good to see, but it very disappointing to not being allowed to alter the graphic settings for better visuals or performance, which may limit who can play the title.

The Verdict

The developers have actually produced a fun, budget priced package. If you’re looking for an action platformer that closely resembles the likes of God of War with a modern setting, then this could be for you. With the asking price, there isn’t much reason to not consider it. Although it does have a few problems with some repetition of enemies, it does eventually shift focus when you continue to push forward. There aren‘t too many games on PC produced right now like it and is refreshing to see a different take on the 3D action platformer scene.

Case Review

  • Pure Fun Gameplay: Honestly, when you can obliterate most enemies with ease in different ways, how is that not fun?
  • Story/Dialogue: Not the best story out there, but there is funny and intense moments with some very well written dialogue.
  • Graphics: The graphics are passable, but they certainly aren’t up to scratch for an Unreal Engine 3 game.
  • Limited Settings:  A rather strange decision to limit the settings, this can be a deal breaker for some with old rigs.
  • Repetition of Enemies: It sometimes feels that in certain segments you’re only fighting one kind of opponent, which can lead to a few dull moments.
Score: 3.5/5
An affordable fun package that will please action platformer fans if they really immerse themselves, just don’t expect it to last long.


When I first heard about Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death, I was interested as the hack and slash style game is not seen much on the PC. The game premise seemed interesting: Marlow comes to a South American dig site to visit his archaeologist girlfriend. She has a Fu Manchu-esque boss who got her deciphering some ancient runes for his own, evil purpose and when she figures out what he is up to, she and Marlow decide to leave. The boss demands she stays, and kills her boyfriend with some rare weapon that, instead of killing him, turns him into an demigod-like warrior, which, I do not know about you, but it’s kinda awesome.

When I fired up the game, I was drawn into the plot, much like a 90's budget action film, and wanted to take control of Marlow so I could kick some ass. On the hack and slash, this game does not disappoint, with plenty of enemies to fight and combo's to dispatch them with makes keeping a killing streak going fun. Though the issue with the combat is the mechanics, collision detection is poor, so you do not get the feel that you hit them. The weapon does not connect when you perform an attack. I particularly like the dialogue, the one-liners, which are delivered by Marlow are funny, along with the running commentary that is provided by his wisecracking friend, a mystical mask which is the real star of the game.

The graphics are quite nice, and to be fair much better than expected from a game in this price range. Forests are lush, Industrial areas look industrial, and do the game justice. Sometimes the cutscenes tell a lot of story, which gets annoying at times as, while skippable, more often than not produce typical “what has that got to do with anything?” moments. Otherwise apart from minor niggles, the game is addictive. Sure it may not be as polished as say God of War or DMC, but for a game that probably did not have the budget of an AAA developer, they did themselves proud. If you are a fan of hack and slash, and enjoyed 90’s action movies, then give Marlow Briggs a try.

Score: 4/5


This is a dumb game. An incredibly dumb game. In all the right ways. It opens with our plucky protagonist, the titular Marlow, accompanying his Latino girlfriend to speak to her boss, who I am absolutely certain is voiced by Lo Pan, at a Mayan excavation site surrounded by armed mercenaries. After she tries to quit, Marlow is stabbed in the chest with some odd Mayan scythe weapon, then dumped outside, still with the scythe sticking out of his chest ('cause, uhm, fuck it why not?) where he is promptly brought back to life, attacked by some Mercenaries who don't even care that he was dead a moment before. Oh, and then an oil tanker tries to run him over. Where'd the oil tanker come from? Fuck if I know. From there, it just gets dumber and dumber.

It's one of those games that took a very silly premise and just ran with it. Instead of trying to justify its own silliness, it just has fun and presents a fairly solid 3D button mashing action game. The dialogue between the mask and Marlow is so casual, no matter what they're talking about, that they might as well be discussing the colour of oranges. But not in a bad way, as the vocal performances are engaging and extremely natural. They're just, well, like everything else in the game, they're very silly.

The long and the short of it is that Marlow Briggs is one of those games you play just to have fun playing a game. My heart of heart wants to give it top marks, because it really does tick all the boxes it aimed for. But the lack of depth and the general repetition inherent in the hack and slash gameplay do leave it falling short when taken as a complete package. Those are only minor complaints, granted, but they are still valid. Though the cost and general fun of the game go a long way to offset making Mister Briggs a worthy addition to any game library.

Score: 4/5
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