Review – Miraculous: Rise of the Sphinx
This year hasn’t been good at all for GameMill, one of the last remnants of licensed-only game publishing in today’s gaming industry. Nickelodeon Kart Racers 3 was one of my most disappointing games in recent memory, and the less we say about the abhorrent Cobra Kai 2, the better. But let’s end the year on, well, not exactly a high note, but at least an average note, if that makes any sense. In a year better left forgotten, Miraculous: Rise of the Sphinx is probably the publisher’s best game released over the past twelve months. Yay? Nay? Hooray? Let’s find out.
This is one of the many cases in the past years where I had to do some research about the source material prior to tackling the game, and that means I had to talk to my very young nieces, who are crazy about this show. Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir is a French cartoon centered around two Parisian teenagers, Marinette and Adrien, who try to juggle their social high school life with their after-hours job as superheroes. The gist of the show is the fact they don’t know each other’s secret identities, and they have feelings for each other. It’s a saccharine premise, but one that gets the job done for kids.
It’s obvious that Miraculous: Rise of the Sphinx, the game, was NOT meant for anyone over the age of ten. Comparing it to a bigger superhero game, like Marvel’s Spider-Man, would be a coward’s move. But that doesn’t mean we’re okay with handing over complete garbage to the little ones, simply because they don’t know better. Anyone with two braincells and a pair of eyes can notice that Race With Ryan is an utter disaster, for instance. I wanted to find out if Miraculous: Rise of the Sphinx hit the right notes for its target demographic, all while being polished and varied enough, with some modicum of quality assurance (something that cannot be said about Cobra Kai 2).
The game is basically divided in two halves. One of them revolves around superhero shenanigans. You control both Ladybug and Cat Noir (you can swap between them, on the fly, by pressing RT) in what’s essentially overly long platforming sections, solving really simple puzzles and taking down tons of enemies in the process. By the end of the level, you have to fight a boss by paying attention at some attack patterns and going all out once their guard drops.
To the game’s credit, it offers players a ton of mechanics in order to deal with enemies. You can parry, dodge, stun, perform takedowns, buy upgrades, and so on. In theory, it’s commendable. In practice, pointless. Being a kid’s game, Miraculous: Rise of the Sphinx is MONSTROUSLY easy, meaning that almost every single combat section, be it against a mob of enemies or a boss, can be beaten by mashing down the attack button, the exception being the handful of scripted boss battles where parrying is mandatory in order to lower their guard. The developers tried to add some variety to the mix, but the combat is practically braindead.
The platforming itself is actually decent, but it suffers from two main issues. One of them is the fact you don’t have freeform control over the camera, which follows your character from a distance. All you can do is zoom in and out. As a result, there are moments in which you will have to perform leaps of faith, due to some really bad camera positioning. Thankfully, the game doesn’t punish you for doing so, as if it was aware of its own shortcomings. The other issue is that levels go for way too long, rarely being populated to the brim with enemies and puzzles to make up for its length.
The second half revolves around your daily teenage routine. It’s no Persona, mind you. It felt more like DC Super Hero Girls: Teen Power in this regard. You have vast limitations over where you can go and what you can do, but you can improve relationships with friends, and purchase new skills and upgrades with the MacGuffins you collect during superhero sections. The disappointing aspect about these sections is that they don’t feature voice acting or animated cutscenes, which are present and really well-done in the superhero levels. It’s a constant wall of text and portraits meant to move the plot forward in a less than ideal manner.
Ending the review on a higher note, the presentation is easily Miraculous: Rise of the Sphinx‘s main highlight. The aforementioned voice acting and animated cutscenes are a plus, as the game does a really good job at looking and feeling like its source material. It only suffers from some repetitive and underwhelming level designs, as well as lackluster sound effects. As for the rest, it gets the job done. The fact the voice acting features the cast from the show itself, whether you decide to play it in English or French, was actually pretty neat.
Miraculous: Rise of the Sphinx is a pretty basic action-platformer at its core, even though it tries to add some variety to the mix with its barrage of pointless combat mechanics. Not to mention the whole high school social life second half, that felt more like a way to extend its duration, at best. With that being said, it’s polished, it looks decent, runs well, features the cast from the show, enough elements that make the game feel less like a soulless cash grab and more like your typical “it’s average at best, but fans of the show will be very pleased with the results” game. Oddly enough, the highlight from GameMill’s otherwise disastrous 2022.
It does look quite like its source material, and it runs well enough. The level design is shockingly repetitive, however.
You can parry, dodge, upgrade your skills, do combos, perform takedowns… but every single combat section can be easily beaten by mashing the attack button. There is a lot of serviceable platforming, which is hampered by a lack of freeform camera control.
Both English and French voice actors reprise their roles, a highlight for the game. The music is also not bad at all. Sound effects leave a lot to be desired.
Fun Factor: 6.0
Gameplay-wise, it’s beyond basic, but decent enough for a younger audience. It does, however, feature a ton of additional fluff that does nothing aside from artificially extending its overall duration, with very little substance. Average at best, all in all.
Final Verdict: 6.5
Miraculous: Rise of the Sphinx is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, PC, and Nintendo Switch.
Reviewed on Intel i7-12700H, 16GB RAM, RTX 3060 6GB.