Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy
Developed By: Eurocom
Published By: THQ Nordic
Category: Action, Adventure
Release Date: 29.01.2019
One thing publishers THQ Nordic could never be faulted for is aiming to provide exciting and engaging content on the Nintendo Switch. With a plethora of titles bearing the THQ Nordic name: This Is the Police, Sine Mora Ex, De Blob to name a few, it is evident that they have a keen eye for a quality video game and look to deliver it to the masses. The same can be said for the second of four titles to be released by THQ Nordic on Nintendo Switch in the opening months of 2019, Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy. What is questionable, however, is why this game? Why now? And what will it offer that it didn’t offer back in 2003?
For those not in the know, Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy is a third-person action adventure game that was originally released on the PS2, Xbox, GameCube and PC in 2003. Subsequently, some 14 years later, a remastered version was released on PC in 2017. Said remaster has now found its way onto the Nintendo Switch in the hope of bringing yet more ancient mythology to a wider audience.
Welcome to the modern era
Being someone who paid little attention to the original way back when, and never having made it on to my ‘I wish I had played it when it first released’ list, it has been puzzling me as to why THQ Nordic chose this IP to purchase and re-release. Sure, critics greeted it with applause and adoration during its time, but times change. With that in mind, I sought to find whether enough has been done to bring it into the modern era. In short, it hasn’t – however it doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy my time with it.
As I have already mentioned, I did not play the original. Therefore, any concern over nostalgia-bias can be put to bed. My playtime with Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy was based solely on the comparisons I can draw between this release and other recent platforming adventures, not with the game that had been remastered before it.
Average at best…
With that in mind, what was discernible from the outset was that graphically, this game is best described as average. It offers very little that we haven’t seen already on the Nintendo Switch, and it hasn’t utilised the capabilities of the console at all – odd considering this game has been remastered. This would be forgivable had THQ Nordic included other elements to improve the overall quality. Sadly, this is not the case. The eShop listing states that Sphinx includes a ‘totally immersive storyline and epic gameplay,’ and the word ‘totally’ is up for debate. The game shares its story through a number of on-screen cutscenes, yet there is no voice acting present. As well as this, having stepped away from my Switch and returning mid-cutscene, I found the character to be still mouthing words long after the text that he was supposedly saying was finished. Of course, a story can be immersive without these additions, however totally? I beg to differ.
I feel the aforementioned concerns regarding visual presentation epitomise this title. Yes, it is a solid third-person adventure game, offering an interesting, if not already seen before, story and with gameplay mechanics which are responsive enough. It doesn’t, however, provide anything new or refreshing. I feel in the 15 or so years between it’s original release and this one, I’ve seen this game in different forms too many times to mention. This game presented THQ Nordic with a unique opportunity to reinvent a game which, to be frank, doesn’t have a huge cult following anyway.
If it wasn’t already clear, the audio is lacking too. There are glimpses of audio being used to good effect to create atmosphere, but these moments are few and far between. Again, something which has become commonplace in games of late and not evident here.
Little ground-breaking to write home about
All being said and done, it has to be said that I did enjoy playing Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy. It does provide a spot of adventure that was well-executed through good game mechanics: running, jumping and combat was fluid and responsive. I enjoyed controlling the two playable characters and completing the quests set by NPCs along the way. There was some inventiveness in these quests, yet still, in a reoccurring theme, there was little groundbreaking to write home about. It plays out as a standard tale of something needing recovering, and you going on an adventure to retrieve it from the grasps of evil.
Travelling the world via magical portals to foil the evil plans of Set. Sphinx’s Journey will require all his wits, agility, and special powers. He will also rely on his reluctant hero friend, The Mummy, to help when being inconspicuous is the only solution. By finding the stolen magical crowns of Egypt, Sphinx can stop Set and save the world.- Nintendo eStore listing, 2019
The two playable characters do allow for combat and stealth elements, providing variety and longevity in a game that comes in at just under 15 hours at a casual stroll. There are a number of enemies to encounter along the semi-linear journey, and you access new abilities en route that you can use to your advantage. It is just a shame that an injection of audio, visual and creativity this game so desperately needed was not forthcoming.
Having put pen to paper on this review, I am still as baffled about this choice of remaster as I was when it was first announced. I’m unsure where the audience is for this title, and do not predict that it will be a massive money-maker for THQ Nordic. I feel this could have been foreseen, and it feels very much as if the publishers knew this too. There seems to have been a lack of energy and creative thought put into making it anything but a re-release of the original with some slightly, and I mean slightly, better visuals over it. A missed opportunity, although not an opportunity I would have opted for in the first place.
Buy Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy