Originally released on the PS3 back in 2012 (2010 in Japan), Malicious was an action combat game where players took on a series of boss battles in order to restore balance in a realm full of evil. The game featured simple yet deep combat systems and a high degree of difficulty and challenge, and those looking for a unique experience found it as they rushed from battle to battle. A PS Vita version called Malicious Rebirth brought even more content to the original experience, expanding on the amount of bosses, and more. Now with Malicious Fallen, first-timers and veterans can get in on the action on the PS4, but this time with even more chapters, additional features and tweaks only available on the current gen console.
Developed by Alvion / Published by Sony Interactive Entertainment
Available on the PS4
*Review code provided by Sony Interactive Entertainment
In Malicious Fallen, the world is taken over by the Mad Queen, a warrior who after getting a unique power from the prophets, rebels against them after completing her mission and takes over the world. Summoned by the same prophets who granted the Queen her power, the player – known as the Spirit Vessel -must fight in order to stop her Keepers and defeat the dangerous Malicious before it’s too late.
If you’ve played Malicious or the enhanced PS Vita version Malicious Rebirth, then you’ll know what to expect here, as the game remains virtually the same, except with even more content to explore. Once again players control the Spirit Vessel and head into a series of stages/arenas where they’ll face of against a powerful foe known as a Keeper and their minions. Stages can be tackled in any order, though as players progress, each one increases in difficulty. Once players jump in, a big baddie appears and must be taken out as soon as possible, as the Spirit Vessel can only operate for thirty minutes.
Combat is simple, but there’s tons of options that lend depth to the systems. Players use a cape-like weapon called the Mantle of Cinders, which transforms using the D-pad. Initially the Mantle can transform into giant fists to pummel foes or shoot bullets that seek them out, but as players progress, they unlock other options like a sword that attack in broad slices, or a shield to protect from harm, among other things.
Players have access to a light and strong attack for each Mantle variation, which can be comboed in a variety of ways to deal normal damage. Dealing high damage however requires players to unleash their aura, which is collected from fallen enemies. While players have to focus on defeating the boss as soon as possible, these tough enemies are always accompanied by lesser grunts, which grant aura energy when defeated. The energy can serve to enhance regular attacks to deal more damage, or heal the Spirit Vessel as they are wounded. Players lose limb after limb after getting hit, so if they aren’t healed before all four limbs are gone, it’s game over. This makes unleasing Aura a double-edged sword, as expending it could lead to success or defeat depending on how you use it and at what moment, adding some strategy to the mix.
Combat is fun, but it takes a while to get used to as players juggle focusing on the boss, and then taking out waves of minions to recover aura to heal up or increase damage. It means constantly weaving in and out to deal damage and recover as soon as possible, and there’s plenty of chances to get caught off-guard. But it’s also fast, flashy and fun when players get a hang of the core systems and pummel foes with combos in order to rapidly heal or deal as much damage as possible. It’s all about balance and quick-thinking and reaction.
The game’s camera however is terrible and frequently makes combat a chore. It was an issue since the first game and still remains so in Malicious Fallen, and it affects the most important element needed in such a fast-paced game: the lock-on targeting. The Spirit Vessel can lock-on to boss targets to keep them in sight, but it doesn’t work as it should, and knowing where these powerful enemies are at all times is kind of difficult. Pair that with awkward camera angles that often get caught in tight spaces and corners, and fighting can get quite frustrating at times when your collecting damage without knowing where it comes from. It’s not fun when you die because you can’t see.
Once players defeat Keepers, they’ll also get access to new weapons, which add combat options and strategies to the mix, as well as costumes that alter the Spirit Vessel’s stats. Players can mix and match in order to face off against the increasing challenge, and certain combinations help against certain foes, so it pays to experiment.
Malicious Fallen bundles together the original game and the content from Malicious Rebirth, as well as additional bosses, costumes and weapons. The added content doesn’t change the formula, but adds some playtime to an originally short experience. Malicious Fallen also benefits from the current gen tech, bringing 1080p gameplay and 60fps on the PS4 Pro, which is always a plus.
Ultimately, Malicious Fallen doesn’t add much to the original experience, but it’s still a solid action title. While the camera is still an obstacle that can lead to some unfair deaths, the simple yet optioned-filled combat and boss rush gameplay is satisfying from start to finish.