The storyline in Malicious is fairly deep and can be entertaining to learn about, but the problem is that it's not told throughout the game but rather read about in the game's main menu. You learn that you are a spirit vessel summoned to this strange world by the Prophets to fight off the evil threat known as the Malicious. The Prophets have given you a magical cloak called the Mantle of Cinders that allows you to take on any shape and perform various attacks. This is useful, because each boss enemy you are able to defeat will allow you to unlock new abilities you can use in battle until you've gained enough powers to fight the dreaded Mad Queen of this world. The game allows you to play through stages in any order you choose, but the lack of any real storyline told through gameplay is definitely disappointing.
Malicious is an interesting title for numerous reasons. The game plays out in basically any order you choose, but as you continue to defeat bosses and gain new abilities, the game's stages become increasingly more difficult adding a depth of strategy to the game. You'll encounter a boss and endless waves of minions upon entering each stage that you must take out with a mixture of light, heavy and special attacks. A 30 minute timer will immediately begin counting down upon entering a stage, since that's as long as spirit vessels can be maintained in the world, and you'll have to choose how you want to approach each fight because of this. You can choose to go directly after the boss, but often times, you'd be better served to go after the minions to build up your aura, so you can unleash devastating attacks on the boss when you see an opening or heal if necessary. You'll rarely run out of time, as Malicious is a tough game, so approaching fights with a bit of caution is definitely recommended, although, there is a Free Mode that allows you to play through the game with unlimited continues for a more casual experience.
Malicious is aesthetically pleasing but not overly glamorized. Stages look great with interesting designs to view throughout each massive area, and character models look nice enough with pastel colors meshing well to create a fun atmosphere. You'll also notice your character take damage over time and actually begin losing body parts as a result. A suiting soundtrack is provided in the game, and the sounds of battle are always prevalent to allow you to always know what is going on all around you even when the camera is causing you other problems. Although the storyline is an afterthought in Malicious, it was be design, and it allows you to replay through the game uninterrupted by dialogue and cut scenes, so you can get into the action and aim for the highest scores possible more efficiently.
If you're looking for a quick fix or an action arcade title that is fun to experience again and again, Malicious is just what you're looking for. The fast-paced action title is a short game with tremendous replay value. It's fun just to go through the game beating bosses in different orders just to see how fights change based on difficulty and your acquired moves at the time you encounter different sets of enemies. Even if storyline is shoved to the side, there's something enjoyable about learning the history of the world and its characters through reading. Malicious is a fun title that will make you glad it was brought over from European and Japanese markets for us to enjoy. Download Malicious today and start racking up some combos!
Malicious is now available exclusively on PlayStation Network and can be purchased for $9.99. Malicious is rated T by the ESRB for Violence, Blood & Partial Nudity. For more information on Malicious, check out the official PlayStation website.
Platforms: PlayStation 3 (reviewed) & PS Vita
Release Date: July 24, 2012