Mortal Kombat 1 Review | Komplete and Utter Fun

While you'll be left asking a few questions, your konquest for brutal kombat will be totally satisfied.

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NetherRealm Studios and Warner Bros. Games went out on a limb to revitalize one of the longest-standing fighting game franchises of our childhoods and produced Mortal Kombat 1.

When news of a twelfth installment popped up in everyone’s feed, it’s safe to say that everyone was, at the very least, intrigued. We saw all the familiar faces but got a trailer that implied a deviation from the original story. The same characters looked and acted a bit differently compared to how we’ve come to know them. Instead of world-weary kombatants, we now see some fresher faces on-screen. Instead of a war-torn hellscape, we see a relatively untouched Earth-esque setting. A reboot was afoot, and we were all for it.

The Mortal Kombat franchise has been dedicated to bringing the most gruesome, over-the-top, and comical style of violence this side of the fighting game community. With 11 games under their name, it was interesting to see how NetherRealm Studios would approach their brand new title. Having arguably way too much time to play around with it, we have more than a few things to say.

Kombat Revisited

Mortal Kombat 1 offers a good enough experience for newcomers right out of the box. While you’ll have to beat the story mode at least once to unlock all 23 characters, you’ll have fun doing so. The plot is as straightforward as it can get, with a few twists and turns that do a sufficient job of ensuring this game makes sense in the franchise’s grand scheme. Veteran players and casual fans will recognize much of what’s going on, and MK1 doesn’t shy away from throwing easter eggs left and right–which is great.

Each member of the main cast has their own story, and your choices during the story mode will show you how they unfold. Personally, I was invested in this series’ Raiden, and as a long-time fan of the Thunder God, it was nice to see how the reboot treated his story arc. You’ll be seeing a lot of him, Johnny Cage, Kenshi, Kung Lao, and Liu Kang as the plot progresses, so if you’re not fond of the OGs, you might be left a bit disappointed.

As for the supporting cast, they get their own story arcs via the main plot progression. It’s also worth noting that everyone (perhaps to a lesser extent, Baraka) is unreasonably gorgeous. The mocap is superb, as you’ll get real emotion and facial expressions and none of the uncanny valley variant. 

Without spoiling too much, just consider this a completely different world from what you’re accustomed to. Take note, not a different realm–a different world. Once you get that out of the way, and the ball starts rolling, you can then proceed to find out why Shang Tsung isn’t as much of a villain as you thought he was. He’s still a douche, though.

Nothing too Komplicated

MK1, in essence, is pretty simple and straightforward. You string button prompts together to make your opponent’s head explode–as you do in any fighting game worth its salt. That being said, after you go through a nifty tutorial, the game lets go of your hand completely, and you’ll soon find yourself on the opposite end of a fatal beating if you’re not too careful. The learning curve isn’t steep, but the ceiling is just about as high as you can imagine.

You can launch, juggle, perform air combos, and culminate with the flashiest of finishers. On the other hand, you can also spam projectiles and jump kick–with both styles having varying levels of success, depending on your opponent. As time passed and new entries to the game came out, the move list kept changing. So, it’s nice to see that some characters retained a few of their moves from the OG Mortal Kombat titles. Personally, I’ve grown weary of the half-crescent d-pad prompts, and missed the quick directional commands.

While you have a stacked roster, a few won’t be joining you as playable characters. Instead, they appear as fully-kustomizable “Kameos” who’ll assist you in each battle. For those who appeared in MK11, you’ll find their moves a bit more familiar. It’s a bit saddening to not be able to play as Goro from the get-go, but perhaps this could change in future patches. For now, he’ll be dishing four-arm assists from the sidelines.

If you practice hard enough with a few select characters, you’ll quickly get the hang of things–eventually making headway through the varying levels of difficulty. Make no mistake, though. Once you step foot into Very Hard territory, you’ll regret not remembering how to block. 

Kool Bells and Whistles

Of course, getting the game at full price just for the single-player story mode wouldn’t make any sense. I mean, who does that these days, right? The meat and potatoes lie within online multiplayer, where you can challenge all komers and become the champion of Kombat League. You have all season to raise your rank, for as long as you don’t get your ass handed to you. Linking up and finding opponents will be easy enough, but taking them down–maybe not quite.

If you’re less competitive like me, you’ll probably enjoy the fan-favorite towers and Invasions mode. Towers is just as great as you remember–beat a set number of opponents as you rise to the top. You can adjust the difficulty with each tower, so you can either treat it like a casual stroll through the high rise, or straight up Murder Everest.

Invasions are what we get instead of Krypts from the older games. You go through a semi-linear path, beat up a few opponents along the way, and score some in-game currency and upgrades. It has its own contained, non-canon storyline which is enjoyable enough. As such, you can choose your favorite character, decide on which path to take, and enjoy the ride. 

As an added touch, you get a cute Mortal Kombat “gacha” dragon that gives you a variety of items upon spending the aforementioned currency. Yes, it comes complete with that little animation before a feeling of dread when you get in-game artwork instead of a new skin.

Final Verdict – 8.5/10

I would’ve called it a “Konclusion,” but here we are.

Mortal Kombat 1 at its core, is one fine fighting game. It’s a great new installment to the series and a pretty good reboot–if you don’t expect Oscar-bait levels of writing. The gameplay is fluid and punchy, the sound design as always, is superb, and I need to reiterate that the characters are just way too good-looking for their own good. Even without its DLC “Kombat Pack,” you get your money’s worth in terms of in-game content and replayability. If you’re an FGC aficionado, then you’ll get even more mileage than the average player. 

We can definitely expect new characters to pop up in future patches as you’ll see a few of them in the story mode. When they’ll come out is a mystery, though. Until then,  you’re guaranteed a lot of brutally violent fun with the base game. So, if you’re curious as to how MK 12 became MK1 again–it’s best you give this game a spin.

This review was made via a PC game code provided by the publisher.