This week, Sunless Sea and Fallen London developer Failbetter games is spearheading the #loveindies event, where everyone is encouraged to celebrate the indie games they think are special, important, or just a grand ol‘ time. LPVG is getting involved in this by bringing you a whole week of coverage dedicated to the games we’d otherwise not be able to share with you!
Lienzo’s Mulaka pushes all the right buttons with its gorgeously vibrant, low-poly environments based on the Mexican indigenous culture of the Tarahumara. Putting you in the shoes of a Sukurúame (shaman), the game mixes real-world locations and indigenous mythology to create a fascinating world that is unlike anything I’ve seen in any other game.
There’s a lot that could be said about the game’s wide, exploration-focused level designs, its tight hand-to-hand combat, or the slight jankiness of its controls, but in the wider context of the game’s existence that feels kind of reductive. Much in the same way criticising the animation in Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan, or the puzzle design of Never Alone, focusing on mechanics and technical fidelity completely misses the significance of people using games to tell their own stories through the lens of their own, often all too easily neglected, cultures.
The Tarahumara culture is, like many other indigenous cultures, at risk of being completely lost, and so games like Mulaka, which is developed by Mexican team Lienzo and has received consultation from Tarahumara leaders and antrhopologists, are a super important way of preserving what may soon be gone through art. What is even more impressive is that part of the game’s earnings is being put towards real-world efforts to ensure the Sierra Tarahumara, the canyon where the remaining Tarahumara are primarily located, is protected.
Mulaka is a beautiful, well-designed game, but it’s the cultural significance of its existence, and how it spreads stories way beyond the Sierra Tarahumara, that make it a much more important game for you to pick up and experience.
You can buy Mulaka on PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Switch.
A code was provided for the purposes of this article.