Mages of Mystralia brings classic action adventure gaming to the Nintendo Switch with a look and feel that most fans of the genre will appreciate, right from the opening voiced over cinematic. However, it doesn’t just keep to that same old formula, bringing with it a magic system that fans of similar top-down mage antics simulator, Magika, had going for it (although in a complicated fashion, more or less).
The story picks up some years after a mad king used their magical might against their own people. An act that leads to said people rising up against their tyranny before removing the king and placing a ban on magic users within their lands. This hasn’t meant that those with innate magical ability do not show up from time to time, nor that these individuals have not found ways of secretly operating to make sure all that goes bump in the night is not combated in some suitably magical way.
In this time, a young girl has her power awaken, something that she can’t control at first. After fleeing her town (and, well, the ashes of a fire she may have inadvertently started) she is met by a strange old man who will guide her in her magical training (™). While maybe being a story we have heard in broad strokes beforehand, this introduction sets us up well for a wonderful tale as you set out into the world to discover more about your own powers, and the real reasons behind all the worlds current magical maladies.
To start with, you are provided with four basic spells that you will use throughout your journey, each with a different effect and element aligned. What makes things interesting with these spells, however, is the unlocking of modifiers that can be stacked upon each to create a new effect. Combine movement with your fire spell and what was once a fire trap on the floor is now a basic firebolt to launch at enemies a distance away. Not the best at aiming? Why not tag on a homing effect to that then?
These modifiers not only switch up how you approach combat but will also prove vital to solving the many puzzles that you encounter throughout the land. Whether that be making a dash out of your shield or empowering your lightning spell with the ability to break through obstacles. Just be careful with how you set up your combos; while some will be very flashy and no doubt bring the pain on your enemies, your mana bar only goes so far (even with upgrading).
These modifiers are handled in an unique fashion of building up a hexagonal grid with connection points between these modifiers, only leading off in particular directions making some of the later game combinations not as obvious at first glance as one may expect. Built off of this too is the basic puzzle system for many of the secret doors hidden throughout the world. By making sure each path leading off of the node is connected to another you can solve the puzzle and reap the rewards locked behind it.
Traversing the world opens up quite a bit as you slowly start accruing more powerful spell modifiers, allowing you to create ice bridges across gaps or manoeuvre quickly through challenging timed areas. The inner WOW player in me begrudges the lack of a jump button to mash while moving around or to make use of, in order to climb different levels of a given stage, but that could likely clutter an already busy control system.
The basics of the game will see you going to new areas of the land to investigate the darkness that seems to be sweeping over the land once more (quite literal in this case due to the strange eclipse occurring) before moving on to the next to follow the threads of the mystery. Each area comes with its own theme, puzzles, and enemies to contend with which will test your combinations and strategies. Many areas will conclude with a boss battle that tests your acquired skills so far in some interesting new ways. These battles are never too demanding but provide a welcome change of pace to the adventure as a whole.
Mages of Mystralia has released before on many platforms already, but definitely finds a great home on the Switch, with the overall look and feel lending itself well to the mobile and quick play sessions that the console offers. If you are looking for some old-school action adventuring that packs some interesting new school mechanics then Mages of Mystralia could be a good match for you.
Features include: Knowledge of all things geeky. “Over 9000!” achievement points in World of Warcraft. Groantastic Puns. Marking out for canadian heels.
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29 January 2019
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