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Video Game / Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death

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“This is a character action game where you play as a black dude who used to be a fireman and you get ancient fuckin' Mayan shit attached to you and you're fighting a Chinese guy in an industrial wasteland, and you get a scythe in South America. And your mask talks to you.”
Matt McMuscles summarizing the game

Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death is a Hack and Slash Action-Adventure game developed by ZootFly for the Xbox 360 and PC. It is a send-up of over-the-top Eighties action movies.

The eponymous Marlow Briggs, a smokejumper, starts the game by getting killed. He is executed on orders of Heng Long (James Hong), a Corrupt Corporate Executive who needs the services of Marlow's archaeologist girlfriend Eva Torres to translate some Mayan codices. Long's Dragon, Ms. Carreras, uses a giant double-sided ceremonial scythe to make the kill... which comes back to haunt them all, as the scythe is ornamented by the titular Mask Of Death, home to the soul of King Tep. The Mask revives Briggs, and together they fight crime, with the dual plans of: driving Long's out of King Tep's homeland; and rescuing Eva.

Gameplay is basically God of War, right down to play control, but with a slightly less absurd primary weapon and set in a modern era. Enemies have rocket launchers... But with properly-timed use of the Block button, you can tennis the rockets right back at them. It's that kind of game.


  • And Show It to You: Marlow Briggs yanks Heng Long's heart out and throws it away. But Long has become a Physical God by this point, so just removing his heart isn't enough to kill him.
  • Armored Coffins: The level where Marlow steals a small airplane is titled "The Single Engine Coffin".
  • Back from the Dead: Briggs is resurrected by the Mask after being killed by Heng Long in the prologue.
  • Bad Boss: Long is not particularly supportive of his troops as they lay down their lives in droves trying to stop Marlow. At one point he complains that because of the disruptions, productivity levels are falling rapidly, and if that doesn't change, a lot of his employees will also find themselves falling rapidly. One of Eva's messages mentions that when she told him that the ritual required three human sacrifices, he immediately gunned down three random underlings who happened to be nearby.
    • One particularly egregious example: he tells his soldiers that they're now forbidden to be killed by Marlow. He then follows that one up by threathening to kill the soldiers' immediate family if they do end up killed by Marlow.
  • Badass Normal:
    • Marlow Briggs, before he was resurrected as the Sacred Warrior. He worked as a smokejumper—a firefighter who deploys by parachute.
    • For a good chunk of the game, Kim Carreras survives through a lot without any mystical superpower.
  • Bifurcated Weapon: The scythe.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: Huge jungle insects are frequent enemies, including generic bugs, wasp-like fliers that shoot acid at you, and scorpions big enough to ride on.
  • Bond One-Liner: Briggs has a variety of them to throw around.
  • Bullet Time: Several Cutscenes are "animated" entirely this way, with the character models all frozen in dynamic poses while the camera swoops around them.
  • Canis Latinicus: Long owns a giant ore harvester called the "Indefenistrable III." The word "defenestrate" is a real Latin word—it means "to throw out a window"—but it isn't spelled with an "I".
    • Fridge Logic: did Indefenistrables No. I and II meet with the ending we hope they did? And if so, how?—these things are huge!
  • Canned Orders over Loudspeaker: An unnamed administrator, as well as Long, address both the workers and Briggs on a regular basis. The former seems to be going for a GLaDOS-esque style of Black Humor, reminding people to respond to injured coworkers without health insurance as fatalities.
  • The Chosen One: Briggs, chosen by the Mask of Death to become the "Sacred Warrior." Possibly pragmatism, as it is implied that Marlow was simply the only victim available.
  • Chunky Updraft: Late in the game (the second Unexpected Shmup Level specifically).
  • Colossus Climb: You defeat the Water God by climbing up its tentacles and attacking its eye.
  • Combat Commentator: The Mask of Death. He compliments good performances; get the Awesomeness Meter to a 100-hit combo and he starts positively gushing.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: The Indefinistrable alone. The materials and power technologies needed to build a moving machine of this size would be worth far more than whatever they're trying to dig up here.
  • Cutscene: In-engine cutscenes that come in two flavors. One is fully animated and voiced, while the other uses in-game models frozen in place and then swoops the camera around to show the ongoing action. Close-ups double as Whip Pans: for instance, the first scene might show Briggs squaring off against mooks and the next the fight beginning, with an extreme close-up of something (a scythe blade, or Marlow's leg) serving as an Idiosyncratic Wipe for the scene switch.
  • Defiant Captive: Eva does everything she can to slow down Long's plans, even managing to get hold of a gun and planning to shoot him when she gets the opportunity. By the time she gets the chance, he's so powerful that he just dodges her bullets and knocks her out, but points for effort.
  • Degraded Boss: Several enemy types are first introduced in a one-on-one fight where the enemy is given its own name and health bar, only to become a common mook type later in the game.
  • Descending Ceiling: At one point, a spiked ceiling slowly lowers. The escape getting crushed, you have to rotate a wheel to open the only door out, while also fighting off hordes of bugs.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Her: Kim Carreras is killed offscreen very anticlimactically. You hear Heng Long kill her over the radio, then find her corpse shortly after.
  • Dull Surprise: Now and then there are cutscenes that swoop around a shifting tableau of badass action scenes, such as Marlow scything mooks apart or jumping from an exploding helicopter to attack another helicopter, all while bearing an utterly neutral expression on his face, as if all the explosions, swordplay and supernatural forces have become a dull chore.
  • Elemental Powers: Briggs gets four spells over the course of the game in each of the classical elements.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: The Mask calls Marlow "Chuchu," which is short for "Sacred Warrior" in Mayincatec ("Ek Chuah Ix").
    • In one of his mid-battle lines, the Mask declares he has another name for Marlow, which he translates as "dancing sword princess".
  • Enemy Mine: The reason Kim Carreras convinces Marlow to help each other, even if she's the person who killed him at the beginning: she wants to be free from Long. Even if her story of being an infiltrated federal agent who was busted and forced to be Long's right hand was just a made-up excuse, you can't blame her for wanting to get rid of Long.
  • Excuse Plot: Aside from the description at the top of the page, basically every other plot development in the story is documented here under spoiler tags. Notice how few of them there are.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: One of your combat options. Some puzzles require you to throw foes at obstacles.
  • High-Heel–Face Turn: Kim Carreras eventually allies with Briggs, having been forced into Long's service in the first place and that it's giving her a chance to be free.
  • Interface Spoiler: The background of the main menu is a scene from the final boss battle.
  • Large Ham: Steve Blum as the Mask of Death.
    • The voice actors for Marlow and Heng Long are no slouches either.
  • Made of Explodium: Pretty much everything modern in the scenarios. Heng Long even complains to Marlow to "not make everything explode".
  • Malevolent Architecture: Heng Long after actually fires his maintenance crew on the ore harvester and employs No OSHA Compliance so the harvester's obstacles can kill Marlow.
  • Mayincatec: Heng Long is excavating ancient ruins—and Marlow must explore these as well—which mix Mayan pyramids (apparently modeled after Tikal and Chichen Itza) with Aztec sun stones and other influences. Tep is a distinctly Mixtec mask design, yet he constantly references Mayan myths.
  • Mêlée à Trois: The giant jungle insects aren't on anyone's side, and will attack Long's henchmen or the Mayincatec spirits just as quickly as they'll attack you.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: The God of Air is the Feathered Serpent of many Mesoamerican myths, portrayed as a serpentine dragon with feathered wings.
  • Medium Awareness: One of Tep's quips if you die:
    Tep: Okay, I figured out the problem. See that little bar in the top left corner of the screen? That's your health. Don't let it get empty. Easy!
  • Minigame Credits: An Asteroids-style game where you dodge through the credits and collect stuff. As the Mask. As a rocket-powered Mask.
  • No-Gear Level: The last stage of the fight against Long starts with Marlow losing the scythe, forcing him to take Long down with his bare hands.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Invoked by Heng Long once Marlow boards the Indefenistrable III. Soon after the boarding, Heng promptly fires all his safety and maintenance personnel, then orders them to make their workplace as unsafe as possible before they leave, all to either kill Marlow or put more obstacles between him and Heng.
  • Obviously Evil: Heng Long. In the words of Unskippable:
  • Offscreen Villain Dark Matter: Heng Long has a lot of resources at his disposal. He loses over a hundred helicopters to Marlow over the course of the game, and that's just one category of hardware! And he has the Indefinistrable III, a factory-tank the size of a mountain. You'll break the cloud line climbing this thing.
  • One-Winged Angel: Long transforms into a deformed giant for his final confrontation with Marlow.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: For most of the game, Tep is arrogant and blithely unconcerned with the dangers Marlow faces. Then, right before the final boss fight, he starts whimpering that it's too late to stop Long and that they should flee.
  • Physical God: Heng Long's ultimate transformation.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Even at the start of the game, Heng Long isn't a normal human. Just before the last boss fight, he mentions to Marlow that he hasn't had to personally kill anyone in over a hundred years.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Human mooks start displaying them towards the end of the game. Their nametags indicate they are "Possessed."
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: By both Briggs and the Mask of Death.
  • Sanity Slippage: Long isn't 100% sane to start with, but towards the end of the game he's noticeably getting crazier, even deciding that Marlow isn't really out to rescue Eva but just wants Long to kill him over and over again.
  • Set a Mook to Kill a Mook: One of Briggs' powers is to turn mooks to his side using the Grapple function. This Heel–Face Brainwashing is temporary, though—as soon as they (or you) kill every other mook in the nearby area, they'll spontaneously die as well.
  • Sequel Hook: After defeating Long, Briggs gains his sorcerer powers and rewinds time... ending up in the era of King Tep.
  • Sinister Scythe: Marlow's primary weapon.
  • Smug Snake: James Hong (Covetous Shen) as Heng Long.
  • Soul Jar: The Mask of Death contains the personality and memories of King Tep.
  • Sour Supporter: The Mask of Death. He'll berate you for taking too long in fights, and make fun of you if you get a Game Over.
    Mask of Death: Oh ho ho ho, you jumped straight to Xibalba!
  • Super-Strength: One of Briggs' post-mortem enhancements.
  • Stealth Pun: The pilots of the helicopters Marlow keeps destroying in cutscenes are invariably Flamethrower grunts. There's a crash n' burn joke in there somewhere...
  • Swiss-Army Weapon: The scythe, "Kulkulkan's Fangs," gains several other modes: dual swords wielded backhand, a whip, and a giant hammer.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: How Marlow finally defeats Heng Long. He decapitates Long with is bare hands, then kicks the head away—so it gets impaled on his magic scythe.
  • Unexpected Shmup Level: In which Marlow hijacks a helicopter. A second involves a propeller aircraft but uses the exact same controls and mechanics.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Briggs loses his shirt after being revived, spending the whole game showing his muscles.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Messages over the intercom show that it's standard policy for Long to execute employees as soon as they become liabilities. Kim Carerras suffers this as well. Long discovers she's been helping Marlow and kills her on the spot.