*Forgot to actually post the review here as well, so here it is.*
While I wasn’t exactly taken with the game at first due to its blocky poly approach and terrible writing, it’s overwhelming charm and old school adventure mechanics quickly made me rather entranced by this brilliant little gem.
Now, mages of Mystralia released about a couple months ago now but it seems to have been completely missed by the general games media and the community at large which is a shame really as what’s there is a rather charming, fun, and at times challenging action adventure game with a lovely world to explore and engaging combat. Possibly this is because there has been so much around dominating the news cycles, and from a smaller studio with their first game well – it’s hard to stand out and get the attention it deserves.
As stated the early experience is not a great one as with the dialogue, story set-up and animations around these are rather terrible. An unlikable mentor whose statements and responses seem to have no internal logic – with the whole conversation literally being the exact same information over and over. It’s the whole “You’re a wizard, Harry “ moment but instead of people wanting to teach and look after you it’s a boot out the door and some save the world logic.
Over and over again you get this same style of narrative with a new Mage, an untrained Mage being told they need to do something dangerous, save the world, blah blah… while the rest sit in there comfy cottages probably laughing at the new dumb idiot they’ve got. There is just no consistency there in the slightest between the reason and the intent and it brings done the overall experience a fair bit.
The apparent antagonist is entirely one-sided as well. With some bland evil because evil ideologies of gaining power and causing as much chaos as possible. He is ever overused trope about the evil mastermind but with none of the depth and characterization behind it that might have made it interesting.
Luckily the various adventure elements behind the game are incredibly well designed from the world design, the enemy encounters and combat, and the various puzzle elements throughout the world.
I’m really enjoying the world design so far and while, it does fall prey to certain roadblocks that make the game feel a little constrained originally, once you start getting a few more abilities and spells it starts opening up rather quickly. It’s also rather hard to express just how well it seems to invoke that old school action-adventure feeling in the vein of Legend of zelda with the world design and elements of progression but with a certain modern flair and polish.
The levels just have a reasonably nice flow about them with following the certain path and how you unlock various aspects of them. There are smaller side spaces along the way to uncover with npcs as well as various puzzle elements that unlock new gear, spells, and other useful items. It’s the kind of design that does give plenty of direction but not enough to feel forced, and also giving freedom to explore the world’s little hidey holes.
I’ve really enjoyed the puzzle elements so far too and will go out of my way to find them, and complete them because they are just rather fun. One puzzle out in the world revolves around connecting lines within a certain pattern so the lines can flow from one spot to the others. It can be done with true and error but there is a constant logic to the puzzles which is easy enough to figure out.
There are also various instance you can teleporting too with areas that range between a puzzle using spells, abilities in certain ways, twitch skills, and even horde mode style combat. There is a good range there and while some of the spell puzzle can be a little fiddly with getting that exact moment or spot active – they are enjoyable to figure out and complete.
The enemies show a decent range of skills and abilities, with various upgraded types where you need to watch, and counter the attacks they have just right with a certain attack style and even spell type. The bosses are much the same with learning easy to see and understand attacks, and cues with various spells and abilities. They are there own little puzzle as well at a times, and that’s great.
The spells and abilities you get, while initially simple grow in complexity as you play at a decent rate. A range of spells with a certain basic effect like force, fire, ice and electricity that have their own use – but then you start getting various modifiers to use with them that change the spell in useful and dramatic ways.
A static fire suddenly becomes a fireball with the move spell. There was a puzzle where I even needed to add a left modifier onto that fireball that made it travel in a circle to activate points. A command to increase the ability aspect made my small electrical slash into a mini explosion. And then later on modifiers that allow extra commands upon a certain specifier. Like my fireball hitting an enemy and becoming an electrical explosion. It’s a lot of fun to play around with and remarkably intuitive.
The controls make it rather easy to switch between these various skills as needed too. You gain access to save more and more of these adapted spells as you go and can switch between them in combat quickly with a button press. It made combat this amazing aspect of firing off various spells to target the right creature with the right effect. A juggling act of spells – and it’s magnificent once you get the hang of it.
Overall from what I’ve played it is an incredible experience. I’m loving the world building so far with how well it invokes an old school elements of how you interact and explore the world, the encounter system as well as the various hidden elements and puzzles set around the world. The narrative is definitely not its strong point with forgettable characters and both cringe worthy animations and dialogue but the low poly colourful world still makes it all rather charming.
It is an amazing game and one I truly hope gets more attention.