Mulaka explores the legends and culture of the Tarahumara, a group of indigenous people who live in northwestern Mexico. Nintendo featured it in its indie game showcase with a trailer that highlighted its vibrant colors and stunning desert landscape. It’s the second game from Mexican indie studio Lienzo, and it’s slated for release in 2018 for PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch.
The titular character is a sukurúame, or shaman, who’s on a journey to stop the gods of twilight and sunrise from destroying the world. His abilities — such as sukurúame vision, the power to transform into animals, and his ability to run endlessly — are all based on Tarahumara myths and folklore.
Lienzo has created a series of three videos that explains more about Tarahumara culture and the way it incorporated aspects of it into Mulaka. It features interviews with the developers, folks from a local Tarahumara community, and anthropologist Enrique Servín.
In creating Mulaka, the studio worked with Servín, who’s writing a book on Tarahumara legends called Anirúame. It also consulted Marcelina Bustillos, the cultural governess of a Tarahumara community, to ensure that Mulaka represented the culture as accurately as possible.
“Here in Chihuahua, there are Tarahumara people all around,” said Lienzo’s cofounder and director Edgar Serrano in a phone call with GamesBeat. “You see them on the street every time you go out.”
Though the Tarahumara have a presence in Lienzo’s hometown, not a lot folks know that much about them and are instead prejudiced against them. Serrano says that they wanted to show people what the real culture is like, as well as create a game that stars a hero from that lineage. It’s not an educational game, but it does shine a light on a rich culture that many people don’t know about.
“This is a fresh story,” said Serrano. “The best thing is, we didn’t have to make it up. It was here all the time. You just haven’t seen it. It’s a heritage of humanity, I guess. We just don’t know it. That feeling, that it’s always been here and it’s really cool, I think that’s exciting. It’s something you take away from Mulaka.”