Every now and then, in a game reviewer’s career, comes a game that can define a genre.
It happened to me in the RPG world with Persona 5 Royal, and Elden Ring for the action-RPG genre. Now, we have another game to hand that again looks to define things for its genre, but not in a good way. You know how you cannot have any numbering system that doesn’t have a zero? Well, this is very nearly that number, at mild risk of spoilers.
Coming from a solo developer by the name of Alexey Suslin, and published by Sometimes You, the game in question is called Boss Rush: Mythology, and in the blurb that accompanies the release, it is described as having a “Souls-like style combat system”. So, obviously, my interest was piqued and I dived head on into a world of monsters and mayhem.
Now, normally here I would wax lyrical about the story, the narrative thread running through the game, but it is actually impossible with what is going on in Boss Rush: Mythology. There is literally no story here at all – we are presented with a series of doors, some fighting happens, and then we move through the next door. That is the sum total of our motivation.
So, we’ll hurriedly brush that under the carpet, and have a look at the presentation of this Xbox Series X|S Optimised title, shall we? Well, things aren’t any better here, sadly.
Our character, a “mysterious knight” looks and moves like one of those wooden mannequins that you can buy to practice your drawing. The animation of all the characters, ours and the bosses, looks very weird, and it is only when you delve closer into the detail do you realise that the models are animated in much the same way as an Action Man; the movement looks so odd.
It doesn’t get better in the levels. The stages are bare, side-scrolling sections of something, with a vague nod in the direction of whichever character from mythology you are meant to be fighting (Hephaestus, for instance, is fought in what could be, if you squinted, a forge) but others, such as Ra, the sun god, is fought in a vertically scrolling tower, which I don’t remember from mythology. All in all, the presentation of Boss Rush: Mythology is very poor indeed, and things only go downhill when you start trying to take in some actual fighting.
Souls-like combat, to me, involves certain things. It involves hard fights that are fair, and with enough skill allow you to overcome any enemy. Take the aforementioned Elden Ring as an example – the combat in there is sublime, perfectly balanced and judged to be bloody hard, but not frustrating. Boss Rush: Mythology is sadly the other way around, with rubbish combat, moves that cannot be interrupted, and cheap knock back attacks from the foes that are impossible to avoid. But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s dive into the deep fighting system first, shall we?
Well, deep may be overegging the pudding somewhat. We can attack with X, and parry with Y. Oh, and jump and attack, and do a charged attack by holding X. Add in a dodge move on the B button and that is your lot – all the basic ingredients needed to make a decent slasher (there is no way in the world that this is a Souls-like game). This impression lasts through the tutorial, and once you start to actually fight the bosses of this world, the wheels rapidly fall off, catch on fire and roll over a cliff edge.
Why? Well, lets start with the charged attack – this takes about a week and a half to charge up, and by the time it is ready to go, the enemies have usually demolished your health bar, whilst the jump attack is as floaty as if we were fighting on the Moon. The dodge is the worst offender however. You know how in a game of this type, you dash in, smack the enemies a bit, then dodge out in order to stay alive? Well, the tracking is so strong on the attacks from your foes that it doesn’t matter how far you dodge, you will still get hit. I’ve been hit by a sword wielding enemy when I was stood behind him, I’ve been hit by projectile attacks that have come through walls and floors, and the parry is worse than useless.
The attacks we try and use are just as bad as the rest of the system. As we go through the game, we collect coins from each foe we defeat, and with these coins we can buy new weapons to use. They are all pretty useless, to be fair, but I had a modicum of success with the Bastard Sword (that’s not me swearing, that’s what it is called!), but it feels like you are wielding a length of limp celery. There is no feel to the combat, no sense of hitting and being hit, and all too often the battles turn into a contest of who falls over first. And it is usually me, as the stamina bar of the character is depleted so fast that when you do have an opportunity to attack, you are not able to do so.
The bosses we fight are a mixed bunch for sure, ranging from Zeus and Thor in the Norse mythology, through Anubis and Ra from Egypt, and right down to a “Hut on Chicken Legs” that must have come out a cheese induced nightmare. Until you have been kicked by a hut, you’ve never lived!
But there are more issues with Boss Rush: Mythology – namely in regards the difficulty. On normal difficulty, the enemies are impossible to beat, given the ropy state of the controls, and on easy, they fall over if you give them a hard look. Sadly, the achievements are tied to beating each of the foes, with no thought given as to what difficulty you beat them on, so running through the game once on easy will see you walking away with 1000 Gamerscore in the bag. All you need to do then is uninstall Boss Rush: Mythology and forget all about it.
It may sound like I’ve not particularly cared for Boss Rush: Mythology. But there is a very good reason for that – it is rubbish. The controls are awful, the graphics are woeful and there just isn’t any fun to be had here. I’ve played this game so you don’t have to, and if I can save you £8.39 then it has been worthwhile.
Avoid like the plague is my honest, heartfelt advice.