When Mortal Kombat 11 came out, besides its brutally realistic gore simulation in its fatalities, it also had this incredibly intriguing story. Dealing with time travel and resetting the timeline, Liu Kang eventually defeated Kronika and became the watcher of the hourglass, someone who watches over all time. But he denounced that and used his powers to reset the world, becoming the Fire God and basically taking Raiden’s place in the timeline. Welcome to the time I mainlined a Mortal Kombat game in 12 hours.
This is where Mortal Kombat 1 picks up. With Liu Kang having set the world up for peace. Early on, see Shang Tsung as a peddler without his magic, barely surviving in Outworld, but something is prepared to upset the balance set by Liu Kang. Happening concurrently, Liu Kang sets out to find Earthrealm’s champions for the tournament set in Outworld. We hear Mortal Kombat mentioned, but no one has died or been injured in this timeline during the tournament.
What follows is what surprised me the most. Being a hard reset yet a continuation of the universe simultaneously leads to each of our characters starting at zero. Kenshin can still see Raiden is a simple yet beefy farmer and Johnny Cage is a failing action star where he is filming a movie in an in-your-face nod to Indiana Jones and Stephen Spielberg. But after Liu Kang rounds them all up, he chooses Raiden to be Earthrealm champion and gives him an amulet, bestowing him his power over lightning, and it’s off to the races.
The first few chapters of the story are intriguing, but it’s the deception and tyrannical nature of the rest of the story that is just outstanding. Some severe heartstrings were being pulled at times, and I really did not see myself siding with certain characters. Being a timeline made in Liu Kang’s own image, Mortal Kombat 1 really sets to freshen things up by putting twists on some known entities. I would love to share some of them, but if you love a good surprise, you’ll be happy to uncover them for yourself. The story really outdoes itself this time and really doesn’t let the stories of games past carry it, although it doesn’t hurt to have some experience as there are a few things hinted at that I had to get a quick refresher on.
“Being a timeline made in Liu Kang’s own image, Mortal Kombat 1 really sets to freshen things up by putting twists on some known entities.“
I’ve always been an outside observer of the Mortal Kombat series from a gameplay perspective, but the story has always intrigued me. Thankfully, Mortal Kombat 1 does a fantastic job of marrying the two elements together. The transitions between cutscene and fighting are now smoother than ever. It is done in such a stylish and cinematic way that it is so lightning-fast that it caught me off guard the first time. Not to mention the way they included the Test Your Might sections into the cinematics in oddly intuitive ways that took me by surprise each time. It doesn’t hurt that Mortal Kombat 1 looks gorgeous. I played on a PlayStation 5 and was stunned by how beautiful everything was, from the lavish and grim backgrounds to the incredible character models.
There are so many key characters in Mortal Kombat 1 from the entire series, and it’s fantastic that they all get their moments to shine throughout the story, including bits and pieces of everyone’s origin story. NetherRealm Studios did such a tremendous job in balancing their fighters and bringing in someone for everyone to have fun with, and with such a cast over the years, I can only imagine it was difficult to narrow it down to the ones we got.
There has also been a lot of talk about its Kameo characters and how they will be utilized. They are there to add a little bit of spice and variety to the fighting, each with their own attacks and X-Ray style attacks that just scream brutality. And what would a Mortal Kombat be without its Fatalities? There is no shortage of gore and viscera as Mortal Kombat 1 takes it to a whole new level.
“The voice acting is something that blows me away in Mortal Kombat 1.”
The fighting itself feels really intuitive. As a button masher, I felt like even I was able to hold my own a bit when it came to the higher difficulties of towers. The new Invasion mode, which takes the place of the older Krypt mode, is also highly intuitive. It plays out more like a board game, with each encounter being used in a way to do interesting things within the fighting game wheelhouse. Whether it’s teaching you how to attack in interesting ways or setting you up for a survival mode where you dodge flames, it’s intuitive and highly addictive.
The voice acting is something that blows me away in Mortal Kombat 1. Each character really brought their all to these characters, with a few standouts being Sindell, Liu Kang, and [REDACTED]. There is, however, one character that stood out to me in not a great way: Nitara, who Megan Fox voices. Usually, I love her characters. Regan, in New Girl, is one of my favourite side characters in that whole show, not including Sidewalk Dave, of course. But here, it feels very out of place with every other character. Especially when they are all chewing the screen together, it sticks out like a sore thumb and feels more like an afterthought which bummed me out big time.
Overall, Mortal Kombat 1 is impressive. I am not usually one to stick with fighting games, but for the first time in a long time, I felt like I was making progress, and it doesn’t hurt that the story and characters are fantastic. If you have never played a Mortal Kombat before, definitely take the time to check it out, and if you are a seasoned Mortal Kombat enthusiast, you are in for such a treat.