Ever since Buffy hit our TVs all those years ago, we just can’t get enough of slaying vampires. The Mortal Instruments is based on the adult fantasy novels by Cassandra Clare, which is soon going to be a movie.
While I haven’t read the books, I just hope they or the film are better than their Android game counterpart. The clunky gameplay, lazy sound effects and barely passable graphics make PlayFirst Inc’s adaptation something you can miss without a second thought.
I assume that with six novels, there must be a lot to the storyline of The Mortal Instruments. The game, however, completely failed to draw me into it. And even with fans, I can’t see why it would work.
A two-screen introduction about ‘shadowhunters’ — half angel, half human beings with supernatural powers — is followed by asking you to pick a type of shadowhunter (duelist, guardian or archer) and name her. In my opinion, with established franchises, you want to be playing as one of the characters you know and love, not as a new member by your own name. If I’m playing a Wolverine game, I want to play as Wolverine!
Then you are taken through a short tutorial by Hodge, a tutor at the New York Institute, and Jace, a senior shadowhunter. It’s hardly explained who they are and why you have a continuous banter going with Jace. I can only assume the original books have that chemistry between the protagonist, Clary, and Jace, but it just seems out of place in the game.
And for some reason, there is no voice acting either, it’s all text dialogues. In fact, the audio effects throughout the game sound like they were produced in a cheap studio in the early 90s.
In essence, it’s a “leave your brains at home” action RPG — which entirely misses the point of RPGs, where the player cares about the story and his character. The whole premise of the Mortal Instruments game can be summed up as this: “Vampires and other devilish creatures are attacking New York City. Use magical powers to kill them. Take advice from Hodge, who lives in The Institute, and banter with Jace, who talks to you through your earpiece.” It’s idiotic.
Perhaps the only saving grace are the graphics. Enemies like the witch and the enforcer are well designed. The art isn’t great, but at least it’s not bad like the rest of the elements. Still, that’s hardly any reason to pick up a game.
And If the story was bad, the gameplay is even worse. You have a sword to use on any vampires that come your way. In a weird gameplay mechanism, you are asked to tap the circle formed at the feet of each enemy to attack them.
This is so clunky when there are two or more enemies on screen, it’s not even funny. First, my finger often blocked the circle when attacking one vampire, so I couldn’t see where the circle of the other guy was. Second, there’s a slight delay in how fast you can tap. And third, you have plenty of different powers you can unleash, so if a bunch of different enemies are clustered together, you can very easily hit the wrong target.
The power-ups — like speedy dash, cleave, healing rune, invisibility rune — are nice add-ons, but hardly do enough to make the gameplay interesting. You can purchase and upgrade these elements through the coins you earn with each mission, while the points you earn are spent in upgrading your character’s power, defense, speed or health. There are also potions available for quick fixes.
There is just so much wrong with The Mortal Instruments game that there is no saving it. Even though it’s free, there are so many other action RPGs you could be spending your time on, like SoulCraft or Dungeon Hunter 4.
Do yourself a favour and skip The Mortal Instruments. You won’t regret it.