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Mortal Kombat 1 – Test, Brawl & Fight, PC, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X

3 min

Mortal Kombat 1: Everything back to one

Mortal Kombat is back over four years after the last part and gives the series a reboot.

The number suffix in Mortal Kombat 1, which is not necessarily common for game sequels, is supposed to illustrate that the game is set before all other parts in terms of the story.

The universe was virtually reset by the sun god Liu Kang, which is why the name “Mortal Kombat 0” would have been appropriate. This is the second reboot of the game after 2011, when Mortal Kombat told the story of the first three games in an alternate timeline.

So there are a lot of familiar faces waiting for you in a new look and with partly changed roles and backgrounds. Those who have been following the series for years will now get afresh coat of paint for the characters and story; those who are new to the MK universe, on the other hand, are just in time and don’t need to worry about missing relevant storylines.

Before I go into the story, I first want to play a few individual fights, so to be on the safe side, I go into the tutorial mode. The controls are quickly internalized: In addition to the usual jump kicks, low blows and wrestling, I am taught how to block in training, which works well in the game and is not unimportant.

If you learn a few small button combinations for attacks, you will quickly get into the game; but even with uncoordinated button mashing you can manage some good attacks. In fact, after a few matches on the medium of five difficulty levels, computer opponents are no longer much of a challenge for me, so I switch up a gear.

In online mode, however, things look different: I’m regularly folded up by apparent Mortal Kombat veterans, and I’m even denied in the process. The matchmaking seems to be not really decisive at this point of the Early Access; however, when someone with rank 26 stands in front of me, it doesn’t surprise me that I hardly saw land and already had to strike the sails after seemingly 30 seconds. I hope that with the time I will rather be assigned to opponents of my rank.

Support from the background

Cyrax supports Scorpion with an explosive cameo attack.

The special feature of the duels in Mortal Kombat 1 is that every fight is fought with an additional cameo character. So you fight two-on-two; unlike a tag team, in which you can switch between the two characters at any time, the cameo partner is only summoned for individual attacks at the touch of a button. This can give your main fighter the crucial split seconds to get out of a precarious situation.

With the very explicit X-Ray attacks, sometimes bones aren’t just broken…. Still, this doesn’t always mean the end of the fight.

In addition, the Kameo, which include characters like Frost, Sektor or Goro, can be called upon for special grappling and throwing attacks. If your life energy is reduced to about a fifth, you can also use the Fatal Blow once per duel. With this very effective and bloody double attack, both fighters attack with a special attack. Visually, this results in X-Ray shots in which very vivid X-Ray close-ups show how ribs are shattered, kneecaps are smashed or skulls are pierced. A kind of fatality light.

Fulminant finisher for finger acrobats

And then there are the Fatalities: those finisher animations at the end of a fight, characterized by extremely explicit splatter brutality of morbid fantasy, which is one of the hallmarks of the Mortal Kombat series. Those who have never played a game of this series should be warned not only about the gore extent.

Also, the execution is not self-evident: once you have won a duel, you will be asked to “Finish him/her”. But you can only do this if you enter the correct key combination within a certain period of time at the right distance from the opponent lying on the ground. Of course, this is different for each character and is not displayed.

So if you don’t have an island talent for remembering over 40 finisher moves (each character has two), only chance will help you here: The button combination always consists of three directional buttons and an action button, so on the PlayStation controller, for example, down, left, down, circle. If you’ve done everything right, you’ll be “rewarded” with a scene in which limbs are severed, skin is peeled off or even a whole skull is kicked out of its flesh, complete with spinal column. Nothing for the faint of heart!