Review – Molly Medusa: Queen of Spit
There is a fine line between ambition and overconfidence, which can pretty much make or break a project. You need to take into account your resources, in terms of money, time and manpower, before tackling a project. When I heard of a one-man project touted as a love letter to The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, I was equally intrigued and skeptical. Wind Waker was a massive game, whose scope is still impressive for 2023 standards. The developer’s previous track record was okay, but not impressive either (Yono and the Celestial Elephants, another love letter to Zelda). I had no idea what to expect from Molly Medusa: Queen of Spit before booting it up. It could either be great or a flop. Sadly, it leaned towards the latter.
The game puts you in the shoes of Molinike, known as Molly by her close friends, an apprentice to a grumpy old sculptor who dreams of becoming one as well (well, without the grumpy and old bit). Her tutor asks for her to buy him a new set of tools because he dreams of finally being able to “turn stone into flesh”. Our idiot protagonist loses her track during what should have been a menial task, and meets Circe, a minor goddess in Greek mythology, and a trickster at that. She grants Molly any wish she wants, and the damn imbecile decides to ask for the power of “turning flesh into stone”. Yep. Not a typo. As a result, Molly becomes a medusa, paralyzing anyone close to her. She now embarks on a quest to get rid of the curse, despite having received exactly what she had asked for. Ungrateful brat.
The story is told in the most rushed and troublesome of ways. Upon receiving the powers of a gorgon, Molly doesn’t utter a word. She’s not scared, she’s not angry, she doesn’t feel impressed. I only realized she was dead set on embarking on a journey to rid herself of her curse upon reaching another area, in which a cutscene was shown. She started to talk to a rock (not a person turned into a stone, but a literal rock), dumping all exposition from out of nowhere. In this moment, I was also able to steal a sand boat from a nearby sailor (or whatever the sand equivalent to a sailor is) and embark on my quest. A glitchy, annoying, disappointing quest.
At its core, Molly Medusa: Queen of Spit has an interesting premise. It is, indeed, based on Wind Waker, but fully focused on puzzle-solving, not combat. That was interesting to hear, as I was then expecting for the puzzles and dungeons to feature more creative gauntlets, and less rooms in which all I had to do was kill half a dozen brain-dead mobs. That wasn’t the case, though. Sure, the focus on puzzles was indeed welcoming, but Molly Medusa is packed with issues. It’s just not fun to play. I don’t even know where to begin with my complaints.
In that case, let’s talk about the game’s positive aspects. I do like it’s a Greek take on Zelda, something that hasn’t been seen since that one Kevin Sorbo Hercules game on the Nintendo 64 (it was trash, but it was fun trash, don’t at me). The art style is quite cute, and the sound department gets the job done. The game has tons of voice acting, and while the quality of the records is doubtful at best, the performances themselves are decent. The music is also quite good, with some guitar-driven tunes mixed with the occasional ancient instrumentation. So in terms of its artistic design, Molly Medusa gets a passing grade. Sadly, this is where the praise ends. Now let’s take a look at its many, many issues.
Starting off with the game’s performance; despite being a full Switch exclusive, meaning it had only one platform to work with, Molly Medusa runs poorly. Its target framerate is clearly 30fps, but it rarely achieves that, even when inside dungeons, where it’s clear that each room is loaded individually in order to offload the Switch’s limited RAM. Long loading times and janky animations are also very noticeable.
The main problem, however, lies on the gameplay. Simply put, it’s a mess. The collision detection is janky as hell, reminding me of early 3D games, where the notion of mobility and collision was still in its infancy. At times, Molly will be able to jump over a ledge like a mage. Other times, using the same momentum and height, nothing will happen. I would occasionally take damage from a torch a foot away from me. Other times, I’d touch a spike and get away unscathed. There was no logic behind it besides glitches, from my understanding.
The camera controls are some of the worst I’ve seen since the 90s. Free camera controls aren’t available by default. You need to perform a command on the right analog stick for it to become freeform. If you do any other action, such as open a door, or talk to someone, the camera reverts back to being stiff and dated. It’s not like the freeform camera controls are decent (they aren’t), but having to constantly toggle back to the bearable setting in order to deal with the constant camera issues present throughout the game, especially during cramped dungeon rooms, was a hassle.
Things get worse inside dungeons due to another feature that should have been a slam dunk: gravity bending. Molly is able to walk on walls and on the ceiling, like a Lionel Richie music video. Sadly, the camera goes haywire whenever you do this (and you do this a lot), leading to something I never thought I’d experience in this day and age: nausea. For real. Most VR games don’t give me motion sickness, but lo and behold, a Switch game being played on a small screen was able to do what virtual freaking reality wasn’t able to.
What a massive disappointment. Sure, the fact this overly ambitious game was a single developer effort is something worth commending, for the scope is quite surprising, but this ended up being its main issue as well. Molly Medusa shouldn’t have been this ambitious, or at least it should have spent more time in the oven before being sent out to the public. It’s chock full of terrible gameplay decisions, poor puzzles, and nauseating camera controls. Even though Nintendo outright refuses to port The Wind Waker to the Switch, Molly Medusa isn’t exactly a worthy replacement, at all.
An adorable art style bogged down by poor animations and an uneven framerate.
Poor collision detection, a glitchy framerate, weird controls and a nausea-inducing camera. Molly Medusa is less pleasant to play than most early 3D games from the Nintendo 64 era.
The quality of the voice acting is quite surprising, but the quality of the recordings themselves was the complete opposite. The soundtrack was decent enough.
Fun Factor: 4.0
Between the poorly explained story, terrible controls and camera, and occasionally annoying puzzles, Molly Medusa: Queen of Spit went from promising love letter to Wind Waker to utter disappointment very quickly.
Final Verdict: 4.5
Molly Medusa: Queen of Spit is available now on Nintendo Switch.
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.
A copy of Molly Medusa: Queen of Spit was provided by the publisher.