Mortal Kombat 1 review

by on September 17, 2023
Release Date

September 19, 2023


For 30 years, Mortal Kombat has been one of the best fighters around, unrelenting in its violence, over-the-top gore, and eccentric cast of characters. However, if you put that to one side, Netherrealm has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to its combat. It’s not always been perfect, but the developers have always tried to push what is possible, and with Mortal Kombat 1, they have refined fighting in a concise, fluid, and fulfilling way. It features an exceptional Kampaign, tons of customisation, a welcoming tutorial, and a fun Invasion mode, meaning you’re spoilt for choice.

It’s not an exaggeration to say Mortal Kombat 1 is exceptional. New life has been breathed into the combat system with the inclusion of the new Kameo system, allowing you to pull off longer combos and new ways to break attacks and floor your opponent. Air combos are another level of your moveset, and with each fighter having vastly different styles makes choosing a favourite more difficult than ever. I would always go with Kung Lao, but Li Mei and Baraka have become two I have often alternated between when going online or playing Invasion.

Going back to the Kameo system, you can select a fighter to aid you in battle by the press of a button or two, each with their own moves that can dish out punishment or block offensive moves. Some are better than others, but each provides various combinations and assists to aid you in a fight. The AI will aslo use these to their advantage, but you’ve got some great options whomever you choose. Whether its Goro, Kano, Sub-Zero, Sonya Blade, or one of the other fighters, they mix up combat and give you a ton of new approaches when dishing out punishment.

The tutorial in Mortal Kombat 1 is fantastic, reminding returning players of familiar mechanics, but also introducing new players to every facet of fighting. Once you’re familiar with the basics, experimenting with different fighters in Practice is a great way to understand the nuances of each moveset. While the starting roster isn’t massive, the effort put into each fighter is impressive. Everyone plays different, and there’s a fighter for every style, yet regardless of the ones you choose, it’s easy to get to grips with others you might not have ever thought about choosing.

Lui Kang is a great first choice, as he has a lot of specials that reach from further away and up close, and chaining his combos together is easier than say, Scorpion. Yet Scorpion is a solid choice because he dishes out a lot of damage, and has some strong close-range attacks for those who like to get up close and personal. One of the fighters I didn’t think I’d like, and someone I spent little time with in MK11, was Geras, who’s a beast that can dish out a ton of punishment with little effort. Experimentation can be done through Practice, but Netherrealm has another way to introduce you to different characters, and that’s through the incredible story.

Mortal Kombat 1 isn’t a reboot at all. It continues on from the events of MK11 where Lui Kang became the Keeper of Time, creating a new timeline where everyone could exist in peace. Of course, this hasn’t happened, and as it progresses, you’ll see familiar faces albeit slightly different backgrounds. Sindel rules the Outerworld fairly with her two daughters Kitana and Mileena. Raiden is best friends with Kung Lao, working the fields for a fair wage. Johnny Cage’s career is hanging by a thread, but not through lack of trying. It introduces every character through short chapters where you’ll end up getting to fight as most of the roster.

There’re moments that make you laugh, referencing moments from past games with a humorous approach. Cage continually references every Hollywood movie from Aliens to Finding Nemo, and Shang Tsung is still an absolute prick. I guess some things don’t change, but it is beautifully animated, with facial animations excellently crafted, and environments are astonishing. There’re never moments where it drags, with each character playing an important part in the Kampaign, even people like Baraka who was always more of a filler in the roster.

Bromances, romances, treachery, sorrow, and hope. Mortal Kombat 1 has plenty of twists and poignancy, but it also has some moments that are made to make you cheer and fist-bump the sky, including a final ten minutes that take the Tower to a whole new level. There wasn’t a time where I felt a fighter outstayed their welcome, or someone got less time than they deserved. To me, the Kampaign was perfect, and I loved that I was able to experiment with all of the characters in challenging new ways. It acts as a primer for online, if that’s what you want, but it’s also a fantastic introduction to the other single-player mode, Invasion.

Invasion lets you play across a game board of sorts, fighting characters that feature a ton of variations. In some fights, dead bodies fall from the sky, or circular saws get launched at you from the side of the screen. Even the opponents might have a particular buff, or damage can’t be done to them unless you strike at the right time. There are test your might challenges, games that require you to dodge or jump over projectiles, fights where you have to take out three opponents in one fight, and traditional towers. Whatever the challenge, you’re constantly rewarded with coins to spend in the shop, where you can buy consumables to help against particular elemental fighters, talismans and upgrades, and more.

You’ll also build your skill level as you play through Invasion, giving you access to skill points that can be automatically applied or not. One thing MK1 does really well is reward you for your hard work. As you play through Invasion, Towers, or online, you’ll level up your own rank as well as the fighters you select. Gradually, you’ll start to unlock new skins, gear, brutalities, backgrounds for your player icon, skin palettes, and other cool stuff. You’ll also unlock seasonal kredits to spent on new skins and gear for whatever themed season is in play, and coins that can be exchanged for new stuff at the dragon shrine.

I found I earned all of these currencies pretty quickly, getting some fantastic skins and gear to deck out my fighters with. There is a currency you have to pay for called Dragon Krystals, but I didn’t even look once at them. There’s so much to do, whether you’re playing on your own or going online, and rewards are everywhere for those wanting to deck out their mains in the coolest outfits. Even now, I still can’t stop playing, and with Netherrealm being committed to MK1 through seasons and future DLC fighters like Homelander and Omni-Man, I’ll be playing for a long time.

Mortal Kombat 1 is one of the greatest fighters of all time, with plenty of modes for players to get stuck into, and lots of customisation items that are easily acquired through playing and progressing. The story is the finest in the series, made even better with some fantastic acting (apart from the fairly wooden Megan Fox) and visuals that elevate both the series and the current generation of consoles. Online is mostly impressive thanks to the quickness of Kombat League, however, King of the Hill is a little frustrating when you have to watch other fighters battle until you can get stuck in. Tiny issues aside, I adore this fighter, and won’t stop playing until the next entry comes out.


Fantastic story
Invasion is enjoyable
Excellent fighting mechanics
Kameo system is a great addition


King of the Hill waiting

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

Mortal Kombat 1 is exceptional, offering the best fighting the series has ever seen, with a thoroughly enjoyable story and Invasion mode.