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Video Game / Malice

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Funky fallen demi-goddess Malice has to regain her skills and powers and save the universe, all while exacting her revenge on the head-eating Dog God.
It won't be as easy as it sounds.
—Back-of-the-box description of the North American release

Malice is a Platform Game developed by Argonaut Games and published by Evolved Games (in Europe) and Mud Duck Productions (in North America). Despite originally being intended as a PlayStation title, it was retooled to be an Xbox launch game, and after a lengthy stay in Development Hell, it was finally released in 2004 on Xbox and PlayStation 2.

A goddess (or demigoddess) gets her head bitten off by the evil Dog God and is subsequently kicked out of the afterlife by Death, since a god can't die and she therefore has no business being there. So it's back to the land of the living for our heroine, who must enlist the aid of a giant sentient clock to settle the score with the Dog God. This, of course, involves collecting eight "logic keys" that are scattered around the game world.

Not to be confused with the book or the film of the same name.

Malice contains examples of the following tropes:

  • All Swords Are the Same: Malice obtains three weapons over the course of the game: The Mace of Clubs, the Clockwork Hammer, and the Quantum Tuning Fork. However, they all function identically having the exact same light and heavy attacks. Not only that, but going from the mace to the hammer doesn't even effect your damage output, though at the very least getting the Quantum Tuning Fork does (albeit not by much; every enemy will go down in one hit).
  • Amnesiac Hero: Heavily implied; Malice appears to have no memory of creating the zombie horde in the underworld, and she gets annoyed and confused at everyone calling her "Mother."
  • Barred from the Afterlife: If you die, you end up in a limbo stage where all you need to do is talk to the Grim Reaper, who promptly sends the title character (a demigoddess) back to the living world (i.e. you restart the level you died on) simply because he doesn't want to deal with the complicated paperwork of processing a god.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: Oversized cockroaches are a common type of enemy.
  • Covers Always Lie: One release variant portrayed Malice as looking more realistic from her far more cartoonish in-game model.
  • Death as Game Mechanic: Dying on a normal level sends you to the Underworld where you can return to the beginning of the level you died on (basically acting as a continue) by speaking to the Grim Reaper. However, the Underworld can also be explored and there are items to collect hidden in it. So while it is possible to beat the game without visiting the Underworld, to achieve 100% completion you have to die at some point since that's the only way to reach it.
  • First-Episode Resurrection: Malice gets her head bitten off by the Dog God in the opening cutscene. Since the Grim Reaper won't allow her in the afterlife, she's brought back to life to have her revenge.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Malice's most powerful weapon is a giant tuning fork.
  • Mother Nature: It's heavily implied that this is Malice's true identity, which is why all of her allies call her "Mother." The biggest piece of evidence is the fact that she is able to repair the Earth and restores life to it after defeating Dog God.
  • No-Gear Level: Malice gets captured in the Fire Fortress, forcing her to sneak out and retrieve her hammer.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The Clockwork Hammer has no time-based attributes or powers; it's just a regular melee weapon that functions identically to the mace.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: Dying gets Malice sent to the Beach of Souls, where she can then explore for collectibles or restart the level by talking to Death. Touching an enemy in this level will force the player to retrieve Malice's soul before time runs out, otherwise she truly keels over... and then restarts the level anyway.
  • Noodle Incident: Death tells Malice she's responsible for the zombie horde in the underworld. It's never explained how she did it, or if she was even really responsible for it.
  • Permanently Missable Content: You can't replay levels so any Crystal Heart Pots you didn't pick up are permanently lost.
  • Plot Coupon: You have to find all eight logic keys that were stolen by the Dog God.
  • Shout-Out: At one point, a bird scolds another for worshipping a blue hedgehog.
  • Significant Green-Eyed Redhead: The titular character has red hair and green eyes, and is the only one capable of saving the world from Dog God.
  • Squashed Flat: During a level inside a giant clock, there are pistons that can flatten Malice if she steps under them at the wrong time.
  • Steampunk: Some elements of the game have a notable clockwork and brass motif to them.
  • Tech-Demo Game: Initially, the Xbox version of the game was used by Microsoft to showcase the bump mapping capabilities of the as-yet-unreleased console. By the time the game was actually released, bump mapping was rather commonplace in Xbox titles, leading to an overall "meh" reaction from critics and gamers alike.
  • The Underworld: Dying causes Malice to be sent to the Beach of Souls from. The reward of completing the level is 4 extra Crystal Heart Pots.
  • World-Healing Wave: After defeating the final boss, Malice summons a healing wave that restores the beauty of the land.