Well this game completely slipped under my radar. I heard the guys on the WAHP podcast singing its praises so I was surprised when I noticed it had turned up on the EU PSN without any fanfare. Malicious is a 3D action game by Alvion, a developer I’ve not heard anything about and from their Wikipedia page haven’t really done much of note. Hopefully that will change because despite its short length Malicious looks and feels as polished as any big name current gen title.
Malicious is a bit like a cross between Mega Man and Devil May Cry. You have a choice of stages to tackle in whatever order you want and by defeating the boss you gain extra abilities that will help you in subsequent battles. Malicious however is a Boss Rush game. Each area is nothing but a boss fight. The game might not sound substantial but each boss fight is spectacular some even matching the scale of Shadow of the Colossus. Visually it’s one of the best looking games on the PS3 with some spectacular art design on show.
The combat system is rather complex, a little too complex perhaps. Once you master it it’s a joy to use but unfortunately the game doesn’t do a good job of explaining how it works. You gain ‘Aura’ from killing enemies and this can be used for a variety of purposes. It can be used to heal, the more damage you take the more aura and time it takes to heal yourself and you are in a very vulnerable state while healing. You can also expend Aura to increase the damage of your attacks. What the game doesn’t do a good job of explaining is that the best way to gain more aura is to expend it in this way. Attacking the bosses many minions will increase aura, however attacking them while expending aura will increase the aura gain exponentially with you combo meter. It’s a bit counter intuitive but once you make use of it the game because a lot more enjoyable. It took me a long time to grasp how this all worked but once I did I started to have a lot more fun.
|This boss gave me awful trouble!|
As you gain more abilities and fighting styles from defeated bosses your attack options increase and you can create some very impressive combos by switching between styles mid combo. These new abilities should help you in boss battles but the difficulty rises as you defeat each boss. Although this keeps the game from getting too easy I found one of the bosses became a nightmare to beat if you leave her until last, she’s the only one that is human sized and I recommend taking her out early on. I left her until last in my first play through and had to restart since she became so difficult.
Despite my minor problems with the game you should definitely pick it up. It’s a beautiful looking game, has an amazing soundtrack and a really great combat system once you get the hang of it. I’d love to see Alvion getting a publisher deal that allows them to flesh out the ideas on show in Malicious. It’s obvious that they had much bigger plans for this title; there’s a huge amount of backstory and the quality and polish of the game is something you don’t expect from a downloadable title at this price. They definitely have talent if this game is anything to go by.