Title: Mages of Mystralia
Genre: Action Adventure, General
Developer: Borealys Games
Publisher: Borealys Games
Platform(s): PC, Xbox, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch (Reviewed)
Release: January 29th, 2019 (Nintendo Switch Release Date)
A young girl, blessed (or cursed) with the gift of magic in a world where mages are hunted down, finds herself lost and confused in a place much larger than she knows. Unable to control her powers, she finds a mentor and is sent on quests to help her on her journey. However, an eclipse is occurring, similar to the one that brought about a Troll Plague many years ago. The young girl soon finds herself digging for answers, finding out the history of the Mages of Mystralia, and learning more about herself and her place in the story. This is the tale of Zia, and this is the basis of the game Mages of Mystralia.
The Tip and The Top
The first thing that stands out about Mages of Mystralia is its artwork. The style is reminiscent of Wind Waker, and it’s so beautifully done and detailed. One of the game’s greatest joys is exploring and viewing the many scenic landscapes and backgrounds.
Mages of Mystralia does a great job with the level up mechanics. As you explore the game’s world you obtain new runes that you can use to create new spells. Spell creation is definitely one of the strength of Mages of Mystralia; you do so by combining different runes that you find and you can even name your creations. For instance, you are able to combine a rune named rain with your fire-based spell to cause fire to rain from the sky. One of the game’s strong suits is experimenting with different combinations to see what new spell you can create and then naming it to your liking. As you earn more runes, you become more powerful which is a unique and creative way to level up.
Puzzles are another strong aspect of the game, and there are plenty to find. Some puzzles are set up with torches that must be lit within a certain amount of time, while other puzzles require you to connect pieces together to form a shape. Completing these puzzles will reward you with either a new rune for spellcrafting or purple orbs which are used to increase Zia’s health and mana bars.
The boss fights are well done and are another shining characteristic of the game. Each named boss has an entrance cutscene and each battle feels epic. The bosses are larger than life and the artwork and attention to detail definitely stands out in their design.
The controls are pretty standard and easy to pick up on. You have specific spells mapped to different buttons. You also have the ability to open up a side menu which allows you to flip between spells that are mapped to a specific button. For instance, let’s say you had a fireball spell as the default spell, but soon realize that you need to pull up another spell that you have listed under that button. You can easily pull up the menu and cycle to that spell. It’s a nice touch, but frankly, you probably won’t be using it all that often, as you’ll find that there is normally one spell that you find yourself attached to until you earn more runes, which you’ll probably use to modify your favorite.
The Flip and The Flop
While the story is intriguing, the characters you meet along the way are quickly forgotten about as they don’t really seem to play a part in the overall story. Your mentor shows up a few times to give you new quests in the beginning of the game, but soon your interactions with him dwindle down to nothing.
Another example is when you meet a necromancer. The character goes into great depth about how the mages and necromancers were at war once, but now they must work together to defeat whatever evil is causing the disturbance. The character says that they will see more of you, but the only time you really interact with him is to buy scarabs, an item used to resurrect yourself when you die. Much thought and detail went into the story, character designs and backgrounds, yet it feels like wasted effort. Zia is a great character, but the world around her feels hollow.
The other issue with the game is the loading screens that appear when traversing from one zone to another. At first this isn’t such a big issue since you spend a good portion of your time in one or two zones, but as you advance and go to new areas, the loading screens can be tiresome.
Final Grade: B
Mages of Mystralia has a familiar and nostalgic feel. The beautiful artwork, the puzzles, and the boss battles all are done right. The game is hindered by the lack of world and character depth, and the loading screens can be a pain. However, overall, Mages of Mystralia is an enjoyable journey and for those of you that enjoy puzzles and spellcrafting, this is certainly a good choice.
Review copy provided by Borealys Games