Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death

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Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death
Box art of the video game Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death.jpg
Cover art
Developer(s) ZootFly
Microsoft Studios
Publisher(s) 505 Games
Producer(s) Dave McCrate
Designer(s) Bostjan Troha
Engine ZEN
Platform(s) Xbox 360
Microsoft Windows
  • NA: 20 September 2013
Genre(s) Action-adventure, Hack and slash
Mode(s) Single-player

Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death is an action-adventure hack and slash video game developed by Microsoft Studios[1] and ZootFly for the Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows. It was released worldwide on 20 September 2013.[2]


Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death uses a real-time control scheme typical of other similar games, such as the God of War and Devil May Cry franchises. Players may attack with their weapon, grapple with and throw enemies, and use magical attacks. Weapons and spells can be upgraded using experience points. The player may launch a swift attack using one button and a slow, strong attack with another; combinations of the two attacks lead to combos. The player's current number of uninterrupted hits is kept counted on-screen, with greater rewards resulting from a higher count.

Briggs's starting weapon is Kukulkan's Fangs, a double-ended scythe with obsidian blades. It has three alternative forms, serving as the game's other weapons: Tacab's Bloodthirsty Claws, a pair of curved swords wielded backhand with swift slashes; the Forsaken Sting, a long chain-whip with long reach but low damage output; and Patan's Tusk, a slow but powerful hammer. Briggs is also bestowed with a number of magical abilities. Spirit Knives allow him to strike foes at long range, the Conversion ability brainwashes enemies to fight alongside him, and the Wings of the Condor allow him to glide through the air. Four spells attack, one for each classical element, are also available: the "Flames of Kinich Ahau" and "Chaac's Freezing Wrath" strike all enemies near him; the "Strength of Cabrakan" earth attack strikes all foes in a line in front of him; and "Huracan's Winds" strikes all enemies on the screen.


Marlow Briggs, a smokejumper, is vacationing at a Mayan archaeological dig operated by Heng Long. His girlfriend, Eva Torres, is employed deciphering various Mayan codices. Eva has begun to find the work unsavory, and attempts to resign. Long, however, still requires her services. To enforce Eva's compliance, Long has his lieutenant, Kim Carreras, kill Marlow with Kukulkan's Fangs. Unbeknownst to all, the scythe is ornamented with the Mask of Death, which houses the spirit of a long-dead Mayan monarch, King Tepechalic Ix. King Tep, acting through the mask, revives Briggs and dubs him the "Sacred Warrior," the "Ek Chuah Ix" (or "Chuchu" for short). Throughout the adventure Tep provides advice, exposition and commentary on Briggs's combat prowess (or lack thereof), while Briggs provides the muscle by wielding Kukulkan's Fangs. Together, Marlow Briggs and Mask of Death set out to defeat Long, rescue Eva, and shut down the mining operation Long has established.[3]

Long drags Eva from site to site, having her translate a large variety of codices, all the while throwing vast quantities of manpower and materiel at Briggs in an attempt effort to slow him down. During this chase, Long begins to display supernatural powers, and the Mask hypothesizes that Long is attempting to attain godlike power. To do this he needs "TioxChoq'ik," a rare supernatural element which his facility is now mining. The Sacred Warrior's raison d'être is to prevent such an occurrence. Fortunately, Long needs Eva's translating skills to complete the ritual. Eva takes advantage of her protected position to drop periodic notes, which keep Briggs updated on her well-being and typically beg him to abandon her and save himself.

In addition to fighting his way through Long's various security forces, Briggs must contend with the flora and fauna of the Mesoamerican jungle. Additionally, Long's depredations on the countryside have allowed a number of demons to force their way into the mortal world; these too must be dispatched. On occasion, Briggs happens upon a fight between two of these forces, who all antagonize each other when Briggs is not around. His one unexpected ally is Kim Carreras, who confesses to being a federal agent who was blackmailed into joining Long's operation, but draws the line at helping him become an evil god. She assists Briggs until her perfidy is revealed, at which point Long executes her.

Briggs eventually confronts Long as the latter completes the last of his ritual atop the Mountain of Time, becoming a towering monstrosity with numerous powers at his disposal. It is a bitter fight, with Briggs losing his weapons, having to fight with his bare hands, and even ripping out Long's heart without managing to slow the rampaging tyrant down. Only by decapitating Long and piercing his head with the business end of Kukulkan's Fangs is Briggs able to finally defeat him. This gives Briggs control of Long's "sorcerer powers," and, at the Mask's urging, he rewinds time. Briggs and Eva climb out of the mine to return home... only to find themselves amidst the historical Mayan empire, facing King Tep during his natural lifetime, with European sailing ships visible in the harbor beyond. The game ends on this cliffhanger.


Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death received tepid reviews, earning a 65% rating on GameRankings for its PC version[4] and 61% on Xbox 360.[5] More significantly, GameRankings aggregates a mere 11 reviews between the two versions. However, the game has apparently been a financial success, earning $45 million against a $5 million budget[6] and has Very Positive (over 90%) positive review ranking on the platform Steam.