Malicious Rebirth: One-on-One On A Battlefield Of Hundreds

By Kris . October 27, 2013 . 2:00pm

Malicious Rebirth is unlike any other action game out there (save the original version of Malicious, in case you were readying your snarky comments already), and if you try to play it like one, you’re asking for trouble.


Both of Malicious Rebirth’s stories put you in control of an entity known only as “the Slayer,” who resides in the Spirit Vessel and wields the Mantle of Ashes. He or she is tasked with destroying the Malicious, a being made up of mankind’s collective malice and discord. Before the Slayer can face the Malicious, he or she needs to restore the Mantle of Ashes’ power… which is done by killing those who have been granted the power and misused it in a way that’s corrupted them.


That’s basically a jargon-y way of saying that you’re a spirit in a false body that needs to fight monsters and gain new powers for your magical scarf before you face a final boss. The game allows you to fight your foes in any order a la Mega Man, but the encounters themselves are very strange.


There’s a unique rhythm to the fights in Malicious, since they’re almost just as much about allocating your resources as much as they are about pattern recognition and reflexes. Each stage pits the Slayer against a (usually giant boss) and fills the room with their army. These ranks of these armies will range from small, easily-killable drones to moving towers toting cannons, to heavily armored knights. You start with only a couple of abilities: a laser shot that can be used to fire straight ahead or fire a spread shot at a number of painted targets and a couple of scarf-based punches, but the more bosses you defeat, the more formidable your movesets become. Before you know it, you’ll be able to septuple jump, grow wings and chainguns, and spin your scarf in blade mode around like a buzzsaw. The Slayer is more than capable of tearing through armies, bosses take a bit more than just weaponry.


While the Slayer has unlimited access to all of his or her available weapons, on their own, they won’t do a ton of damage to a boss. This is where Aura comes in. To increase your power, you need to start releasing Aura at one of three speeds. Releasing Aura constantly drains your supply, but the more quickly you choose to lose Aura, the more powerful your attacks become.


But that’s not the only use of Aura. If you’re hurt in battle, the Spirit Vessel will start to lose limbs. One limb lost only costs 400 Aura to repair and will rebuild itself in about half a secodn, but lose a second and the cost will increase to 800 and the process will be slower. If you get beaten to within an inch of your life, the Spirit Vessel will be missing three limbs and part of its torso, and a slow, several second repair process will be necessary, during which you can easily be killed or be knocked out of your healing process, requiring you to relocate and start the whole thing over again.


As helpful as Aura is, you need to put yourself into danger to get it. Each small enemy you defeat will reward you with some aura and blocking attacks at the last second with your shield will net you more, but both of these things can be dangerous when you’re missing limbs. This also plays into the risk-reward system of Aura-powered attacks. Holding L as you perform an attack will allow you to increase its damage and, should you destroy an enemy, nearby enemies will explode in a spreading chain reaction that leads to huge Aura boosts.


This means your average battle in Malicious might begin with you playing things safe, holding back and keeping your guard up as you watch the boss’s attacks. By the time you start to get a feel for that, their army should have filled in the entire arena, so you start flying through the air and painting targets to see if you can get any additional aura from enemies who can be taken out in a single shot. If you’re feeling bold, you might spend some Aura on these shots and see if you can build up your chains (which you’re graded on at the end of each stage) and Aura pool early. From here you might jump into the fray and start cutting through their ranks with your wider, slower attacks to build up a bit more Aura, or start unleashing it to deal with the boss.


Now a full Aura-Release Slayer is a powerful beast, capable of taking of probably an eighth of a boss’s health with a well landed attack, but part of the challenge is simply landing the attack. While getting up close and personal to a boss is a good start given how many attacks they have that will shatter the Slayer’s limbs and send them flying, some of them have armor that needs to be shattered or will leap from wall to wall and layer to layer of the stage. While the screen is full of enemies, this is what Malicious is truly about: the Slayer versus a single twisted Beast. Both of them are capable of destroying the other in a matter of seconds if the other drops their guard and both will run if they’re in danger.  Combat becomes a push and pull of you pursuing your foe, and, if you start running low on aura, escaping them to heal and build up your reserves again as they do the same to you.


This interplay will have you escaping by dashing through enemies, running up the sides of walls to regrow any lost limbs, and peppering the boss with ranged shots as you build yourself up again before basically going Super Saiyan and tearing through as much health as you can. Although this sounds repetitive, there are enough surprises in each boss’s movesets (which change when you’ve dropped their health by about half) and enough encouragement to do things quickly that it doesn’t feel that way. Tearing through armies and chasing down your target to land the final blow feels great when you’ve figured out the proper way to do so.

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  • I enjoy this game when I played it on PS3. Will buy it again whenever I get a vita.

  • benhofb

    I got this when it dropped back a couple weeks ago and I am loving it! I just wish it was a wee bit longer…

  • Shady Shariest

    This looks fluid and quirky :3

  • TheExile285

    The new levels are pretty tough. Still haven’t beat those FFXIII Shiva wannabes lol

    • Sebastian Lothian

      That took me some time also. I resorted to using the attacks with the sword (not hammer) while guarding/dodging. It takes some time but it’s safe and you can kill surrounding enemies to keep up your aura also.

  • Sebastian Lothian

    While I don’t think it was mentioned in this review the story behind each of the bosses was intriguing in my opinion, especially the story behind the Mad Queen.

  • Kornelious

    I love this game, It’s one of the first games in a while that makes each boss unique, cool, and has one of the coolest final bosses i’ve Seen in a while. Definitely worth the 15$!

  • Chrystofax

    Ah yeah, this was a great game, I finished it afew weeks ago, deciding which boss to defeat first might help with the game as I think each time you beat one, all the others get more harder

  • mockturtle

    So is it better, worse, or the same as the PS3 version? I already got that for free from PS+, so I’m not sure if I should spend another $15 on what I already have.

    • brian

      I never played it, but I’d suggest trying the PS3 version and compare that to this article since it implies the original is a lot less unique than this version.
      The way he describes it makes me think about Shadow of the Colossus with its (relatively) one on one fights.

      • It is like that! Every One-on-One battle is very Epic (by the true definition)! If one must describe this game, it would be as “Megaman meets Shadow of the Colossus”!

        Since I do own the PS3 version, Malicious on the Vita is the better choice! I do not recommend the PS3 version, as that one lacked a lot outside of the gameplay. And let me tell you, this game DOES have a huge story! You just have to read it all. The game will not narrate it for you.

        • neocatzon

          Wait, so Malicious Rebirth does have a narrative story? How massive it is? Is it lengthy like FFXIII datalogs or bunch of small stories like SS?

          • Didn’t you read? The game doesn’t narrate the story. You hav to read it yourself from the Main menu. But, it’s not a bad read at all!

          • mockturtle

            I think he was asking what the length of the story was, not asking for clarification regarding how it’s delivered. Doesn’t really matter to me, I’m a visual novel fan anyhow, haha.

            Still, your post was very helpful; I’ve seen nothing to suggest that the Vita version is anything but superior. I have a $10 PSN credit coming from this month’s promotion, so I’ll probably pick it up when I get that. Thanks!

          • neocatzon

            Yup, like mockturtle said I’m asking the length. I initially thought Malicious doesn’t have narrative story at all, only simple premise and gameplay. I don’t mind reading monolith of text in a game, in fact I love it.

            Your post regarding this massive story made me interested. If they have similar level of content to datalogs or librom, I’ll gladly buy this game.

  • Hey, Kris! No food for thoughts? Do you have any comments on how the story is told?

  • chroma816

    This is one of those games that I wish I had a Vita for – a list that’s slowly, but surely growing.

    Once it gets a pricedrop, I’ll definitely consider buying one.

    • JuhRo

      Another price drop? It’s already down to 200$.. I suppose I shouldn’t assume since I have no idea where you’re from..

      • chroma816

        Eh, the problem is that there are other things that $200 can go to at the moment – a couple PS3/3DS games I’ve yet to pick up, a PS4, bills, etc.

        $200 is still a lot for a handheld device.

        • JuhRo

          Well, it’s not gonna drop any more.. I’m pretty sure it’s comparable to the 3DS price.. and it’s a great deal for what you’re getting. It’s a new device that looks to have a promising future.. The PSP was playing games that looked BETTER than the PS2 at the end of its life cycle.. and the Vita looks to beat out PS3 graphics in its mid-end life as well.

          I found a really good deal on Craigslist for my Vita.. with a 32 GB card for 180.. so– there are ways to get one without costing your pocket to hurt as bad. I play my Vita 500% more than my 3DS and PS3.. and PC combined.

        • ShadowDivz

          Agreed. But when you play one of your favorite game son that bad boy. All that will be worth it.

          For me, that happens when i play Gravity Rush(Highly Recommend, Soul Sacrifice and Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus)

  • Jorge H. Chernicharo

    I got it on the day it released on PS3, but I never got around to beat it. It is just way too hard for me, I remember I was able to beat only one of the bosses…
    But I really want to come back and try again.

  • k.b.a.

    didn’t like the original for the gameplay. everything else from the graphics to the story to the art direction was great.
    though that might be because i didn’t play it enough to get super powerful. i just grew annoyed.

  • ShadowDivz

    Game sounds challenging but fun as hell. And the characters look cool. Can anyone recommend and or compare it to something?

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