Malicious Rebirth is an enhanced port of Malicious, a game released for the PlayStation 3 by Alvion. This PlayStation Vita version of the game comes packed with extra content and has been designed for short bursts of gaming on the go. Given its source material, I was curious to see if it could really condense the craziness of its console counterpart to the Vita's small screen.
In Malicious Rebirth, you take control of a Spirit Vessel who has been summoned to fight the Malicious, which is a group of evil beings bent on destroying the world. After you choose whether or not you want your Vessel to be male or female, you'll step into the White Room, a curious plane that exists outside of time. There, a prophet will give you all the information you need to know for your quest.
Though you are meant to complete the adventure on your own, you will not be without tools. Your weapon comes in the form of a shadowy cloak that floats around your shoulders and can change shape according to your will. This is the Mantle of Cinders and it will be your best friend throughout your battles.
After you learn about the Malicious and get accustomed to the controls, you can hop into the first stage of your choosing and get started with the ridiculous battles. Malicious Rebirth is unique in that there's no real set progression when it comes to the stages. You're free to choose what order you want to complete each level. But with choice comes consequences. Stages get progressively more difficult as you clear others, so take care in choosing what you want to tackle first. A boss that might have been easy if you had picked his stage first might end up becoming a colossus if challenged much later.
The order in which you clear stages also affects which weapons you'll unlock first. For example, completing the Forbidden Floor stage with the sword-wielding boss first ensures that you get the sword add-on for the Mantle of Cinders early in the game, which definitely helps in clearing out hordes of minions. Clearing the Triumphal Square with the giant knight boss grants you use of the Fists, which are some of the best weapons for taking down other bosses.
Once you're dropped into one of Malicious Rebirth's arena-like stages, you'll notice that there is usually a boss that is prominently-featured in the introductory cutscene. After you enter the field and rouse this boss, they will be on you as if they were a college girl and you were a pumpkin spice latte in the middle of October.
Not only do you have the boss to contend with, but you've also got his expendable minions to dispatch. While you might feel overwhelmed, you should remember that these minions are easily destroyed and provide you with much needed Aura points. The Spirit Vessel uses Aura to power up attacks and, more importantly, to heal wounds.
You'll get the absolute crap knocked out of you in Malicious Rebirth. If not by bosses, than by their legions of minions all attacking at once. Damage to the Vessel is shown through the loss of limbs. You'll still be able to move and attack normally, but the more you're damaged, the less limbs you'll have. Once you lose all of them, it's game over for you. Thankfully, you can use up Aura to heal yourself in the middle of battle. The more limbs you've lost, the higher the Aura cost required to fully heal yourself.
Once you've gotten the hang of Malicious Rebirth's rhythm, the rest becomes easy. Alright, that's a lie. Even after you get the hang of how everything works, you'll need to utilize every skill you've learned and combine it with every weapon you've unlocked to defeat subsequent bosses. Since the Malicious only get more difficult as you progress, your best bet for survival is to learn their attack patterns during all of their phases and reap sweet Aura points from their minions by using the Sorcerous Bullets to lock onto groups at a time.
Since you only have 30 minutes to defeat each boss, you'll certainly have your work cut out for you, but it's so incredibly rewarding once you start chipping away at these behemoths and eventually down them. The kind of action that Malicious Rebirth provides is fast, fun and can be all kinds of exciting.
The only real downsides to Malicius Rebirth include its short length and the lack of real story. While the port does come packed with a new chapter with new bosses and more moves to master, you'll find the adventure is over all too quickly. You can always challenge stages again in order to get better scores, but that's really all there is for the replay value, unless you want to try everything again as a Vessel of the opposite sex.
As for story, you'll have to choose the Backstory option from the main menu to get a real grasp on the narrative, or talk to the Prophet in the White Room for further exposition. It would have been nice to have more impetus to defeat the Malicious other than "kill them because they're bad."
But after all is said and done, Malicious Rebirth is a solid action title that can make you feel like an incredible badass while also beating the crap out of you at the same time. If you've got a PlayStation Vita and want some epic adventures to challenge you while on the go, be sure to pick this one up.
This review was based on a digital copy of Malicious Rebirth for PlayStation Vita that was purchased for review.