Malice is a relatively obscure game. I picked it up on the PS2 for £2.50 (delivery included). It’s about a Goddess called Malice who wields comically over-sized weapons and has to battle against the Dog God. There’s also a bunch of crows who shoot you for some reason.
This game went through a very difficult development cycle with long delays, cancellation and then eventual revival. I remember being very young, constantly browsing the latest Game Trailers to see what awesome games were coming out and being captivated by this game. It looked amazing and to be fair, looking back at the trailer, it still looks pretty damn cool.
A look at the old trailer
Let’s take a look at the trailer – wow, this game looks incredible. Well I’m sad to say that it seems almost all the gameplay mechanics in the trailer were cut from the final product. I don’t know what happened, but youtube comments seem to indicate that the publishers complained about difficulty and most of the content was scrapped. This seems plausible, as the final product is laughably easy. Even when this came out, when I was 12 years old and not very good at games, I completed the entire game without dying.
The hilarious thing about getting through the game without dying is that there’s actually a hidden area in the game, the Beach of Souls. You can only access this area by dying. So I was totally puzzled as to how you 100% completed the game.
Let’s look at the story; it seems like there’s bits and pieces of the story, but nothing is fully explained. Dog God bites Malice’s head off and she dies. Death gets really angry at her because of “the mess she’s responsible for”. Then she has to work with a clockwork God kind of thing to collect a bunch of “Logic Keys” to kill Dog God. There’s a bunch of crows. Some of them try to kill you, others seem to be very happy to see you and worship you as a Goddess (you play as a Goddess, of course). I don’t know whether this is a “fill in the gaps” sort of story, or whether a load of important details got scrapped, but it leaves quite a bit to be desired.
Malice was released on the PS2 and Original XBox. This game isn’t backwards compatible on the Xbox 360 or Xbox One, so you’re stuck playing it on the original Xbox or the PS2. I’m stuck with the PS2 version and this is by far the worse version. The lighting, shadows and effects are much worse quality, and some more expansive levels have masses of fog which just doesn’t look good. The whole game also sort of feels like it’s playing in slow motion.
It sounds like I hated this game so far, which I did not! It’s a nice little action platformer with lots of running and jumping around collecting things. The game has a great sense of humour with loads of good jokes and puns scattered throughout.
There aren’t many puzzles, but the puzzles in the game are actually well thought out and fun. The other gameplay is largely finding various things – cogs, coins…red cogs, key cards and other things. It’s a bit unimaginative but it’s an old game and back then collecting things was the coolest.
There’s also plenty of enemies to fight, but you have a very limited moveset, which leads the combat to just be uninteresting and kind of annoying. If you look back at that ancient trailer again, the combat looked like it was originally intended to be much more involved with cool mechanics like using your hammer as a lawnmower. There’s also a boss fight in each level, but these are just so boring I’d prefer it if they weren’t in the game at all.
Throughout the game you gather various magic powerups, but these are very underutilised. You can probably complete the entire game without even using them. There’s hover magic, which allows you to sloooooowly float and reach further. Sort of. You can jump really far, so the float magic is mostly pointless. There’s also healing, a shield and magic that can strengthen your attacks or take out masses of enemies at once.
Ending and Conclusion
Malice has one of the worst endings I’ve ever known. If you play through and get to the final boss, I’d advise you to not even bother fighting them. Not only is it the most boring and tedious boss fight of all time, the games ending is basically non-existent. Let me sum it up here – you beat Dog God to death with a tuning fork, Malice says something sassy then you get booted out to the main menu. If you load your game again it’s as if you never even fought Dog God! (And I sure hope you saved your game, there’s no auto-save).
All in all, this game is quite short and easy to get through, so it’s a fun little time waster. I beat it in about 4 days with almost 100% completion. Although saying that, I’m still sad that this game had so much potential and ended up being a shell of the intended final product.
Considering the story having a lot of gaps in it and the game’s ending being virtually non-existent, it feels like the game was never even totally finished. The developers sadly went out of business soon after Malice was released.
- Screenshots taken from Longplay Archive’s video here: YouTube
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