Mortal Kombat is something I remember very fondly growing up, but I can never place any specifics. I’ve seen the franchise change from its Super Nintendo version to various movies—some good, some bad—and now we are coming up on Mortal Kombat 1, and the stakes are high.
At Summer Game Fest, I got down and dirty with the brand-new edition to the Mortal Kombat franchise, and it’s not for the faint of heart. Mortal Kombat 1 looks to refresh the franchise, which is why the title is back to 1. When speaking to Lead Systems Designer for NetherRealm Studios, Derek Kurtzic, he made it very clear that we are back to the beginning, “It is the first in Liu Kang’s timeline. So we are putting the number one right on there. We want to establish that upfront, that this is a new beginning.”
He continued to discuss the things about Mortal Kombat 1 that will be the same but different, mentioning throw-back levels like the living forest and how we will see them through new eyes. In the past, they were dark with screaming trees, and now it will be bright with different faces, “a different tell of the story through Liu Kang’s eyes.”
Mortal Kombat 1 Is #1 for Visuals
The first thing I noticed playing through my section of Mortal Kombat 1 was just how beautiful it is. There was always a level of grime to Mortal Kombat stages, for instance, The Pit. In this new retelling, there is a level of glamour and sheen…that you get to coat in blood—a lot of blood. The stage that stood out to me the most was a condo overlooking the water and a city that looked something like Greece. It was stunning, and the attention to detail was incredible.
That detail carried through to each battle as well. The gore in Mortal Kombat 1 is nothing to scoff at. I heard rumors that players were walking away at our demo, so make sure you’re ready before you “FINISH HIM” I had access to four players, Liu Kang, Sub-Zero, Kenshi, and Kitana, and three Kameo fighters, Kano, Sonya, or Jax. But what is a Kameo, and why is now the time to bring them to Mortal Kombat?
Kurtic explained, “It’s almost like a simpler tag. You’re just getting a new utility to add on to a character that you want to become familiar with versus learning multiple characters. Also, it really allows us to pull into the nostalgia where you can see some of these classic characters from the previous timeline, but again, with some with new moves.”
From my experience, I’d describe a Kameo as a special move, essentially. You build up your momentum and hit the button at the right moment, and watch your Kameo fighter pop in to do some extra—sometimes gruesome—damage. What this might look like really depends on your pairings. Kurtzic said that you will have stars like Sub-Zero, whose Kameo may show off some moves you don’t usually see when he is a playable character, but then other fighters like Kung Lao will have their classic moves integrated in.
Kameos Are Going To Bring a Ton of Replayability To Mortal Kombat 1.
You can pair any fighter with any Kameo fighter, making endless combinations. What works best for you will entirely depend on your playstyle. I will note that it is possible to interrupt a Kameo, so use them wisely. Combat between yourself, your opponents, and Kameos isn’t all you need to worry about either. Kenshi summons a spirit, and you can control both at the same time as well. Mortal Kombat 1 is bringing multiple levels to combat, and it really feels like a significant jump for the franchise.
The cherry on top of all the brutal battles and cringe-worthy audio (seriously, everything sounds so wet) are the fatalities in Mortal Kombat 1. They are disgusting—in the best possible way. Your Kameo fighters take part in fatalities now, too, and it brings next-level gore to the screen. The sounds of skulls shattering and guts spilling, paired with the grotesque, movie-quality visuals, make these short cutscenes something to truly behold.
Mortal Kombat 1 breathes fire into the long-running franchise. With a September 19, 2023, release date, it is just a few more months to wait for fans of the series, but I genuinely believe Mortal Kombat 1 will be the fresh start the franchise is looking for, bringing in a whole new era of fighters.