Star Rating:

Mortal Kombat 1

Platforms: PC, Xbox Series XS, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch

Release Date: Thursday 14th September 2023

'Mortal Kombat 1' gets a lot right, it’s fun and accessible for people who wouldn’t usually play fighting games, but it lacks a bit of depth that would ensure its admiration from hardcore fans.

Surprisingly, the story is incredible. Not in a 'Citizen Kane' kind of way though, more like if Monty Python made 'Way of the Dragon', and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

It starts off fairly tranquil. For reasons the world and all of the realms have been remade in such a way that peace will be maintained between them. Unfortunately, however, there are some bad actors behind the scenes – and we’re not talking about Johnny Cage.

With some twists and turns throughout, our heroes try to discover who, or what, this malevolent force is. Add some alternate timelines, mish-mashes of all of the characters, betrayal, new friendship, and a giant pyramid for some reason, and you’ve got yourself the story for 'Mortal Kombat 1'. Incredible.

Of course, you’re not playing 'Mortal Kombat 1' for the story, and it essentially serves as a tool to have you fight as different characters, against different characters, in different places, but it could have been so much worse. Not taking itself too seriously (while also not leaning too far into slap-stick or total absurdity) really helps, and you can consider it to be almost an extended tutorial.

The other single-player modes – Towers and Invasions – are fairly interesting, and a good way to extend the play life of the game further than just the story mode. While some say it’s a step back from 'Mortal Kombat 11', it’s still worth a look, letting you get more familiar with your favourite character, earning new cosmetics for them along the way. 

The game is visually stunning (not counting the 30fps limit in the menu); every arena, character, move, and special effect. Just watch the 'Every Finisher' video on YouTube, the details are incredible. The art style suits the game perfectly and is obviously markedly different to the cartoony style of 'Street Fighter'. The unique movement of each character in front of the dynamic backdrop makes each fight engaging long after you think you would have been bored. 

It’s not all good news though. Players are reporting base game content being paywall locked behind DLC characters. This, alongside expensive character skins around €10, is a serious black mark against an otherwise really enjoyable game. We get it, microtransactions are here to stay. The DLC in question is €7.99, but is a €10 character skin really a microtransaction? Is it right to block part of the base game behind day 1 paid DLC? The answer is no, to both. This flagrant disregard for the consumer brings an easy 4 out of 5 down to a 3, and it’s a disservice to the developers who spent their time and energy making something that could have been great.

With a €60 game, plus a €20 Kombat pack, plus premium currency, 'Mortal Kombat 1' may have just Fatality!-ed itself.