Years ago, a boy became king but fell into the dark arts of magic. Because of the king’s recklessness, its use has become forbidden in Mystralia.
Since the king started his reign, every few years a child receives this forbidden gift at birth. One such child, Zia, must carry out a new journey after burning her house down. She has the gift of magic, and this is where players begin Mages of Mystralia.
Summary of ‘Mages of Mystralia’
Mages of Mystralia amused me for days because of its spell customizations, interesting puzzles and challenging boss fights. As previously mentioned in another article, Ed Greenwood wrote the story, a man known for creating the Forgotten Realms universe in Dungeons & Dragons.
The visual style of the game is enjoyable and cartoony. The music is rather melodic, which allows a player’s focus to remain on its engaging concept. Let’s talk about the gameplay, visuals and sound.
Overall, the gameplay in Mages of Mystralia is both easy to understand and (can be) difficult when it comes to puzzle solving. Ultimately, the real nuances stem from the requirement of spell augmentations more than anything else.
This is the fundamental mechanic in Mages of Mystralia, which is the ability to customize spells. Since players have a lot of flexibility when it comes to the spells they use, the challenge comes from understanding which spell augments help you for a given puzzle solution.
As previously mentioned, the controls are rather simplistic. I recommend playing with a controller. Below are pictures illustrating the ease of controller/keyboard customization.
Players start as a girl named Zia. She is a bit of a dunce and who embarks on a unique journey. The game’s initial dialogue shows Zia’s reluctance to be a mage. Forced from her home because of an inadvertent house fire, she sets off on her journey. It is at this point that a new character shows up, presenting himself as her mentor.
At no point does he go into detail about who he is and how he found Zia. With this in mind, the mentor takes on a passive role by telling the player to embark on a journey but doesn’t hold the player’s hand.
Mages must right the wrongs of the world by ridding the forest of monsters, feeding a beggar and finding lost items. Zia does all of this despite the need to hide her abilities within the walls of Castle Mystralia.
The story itself is fairly linear where the player can only enter certain areas after other magical augmentations. At a certain point, I reached a boss that I could not defeat only to realize that I had to go back for new abilities.
Once I explored the area more, I discovered there were other features in the game. For example, there are teleport locations to move around the map. Though, on the outset, it wasn’t clear how to use them. It prompted me to look around even more before continuing on the storyline. After embarking on an exploration quest of my own, I found there were places I couldn’t access previously that I was able to open.
Questing and Puzzles
There are side quests that assist Zia in progressing through the game, such as buying the beggar some bread. It is one of many side quests you can find after approaching specific characters. Regardless, each quest allows players access to other magical augmentations needed to solve puzzles or defeat bosses.
Puzzles are fairly simple to understand in the sense that firepits require fire to activate. These puzzles will open doors or drops currency for the player. The currency helps to buy passage through the teleporter to previously explored areas, but it also helps for other aspects.
Your spellbook communicates with Zia so that she understands a new mechanic or operation of a structure.
Essentially, the spellbook acts as a guide for the player at various points. By doing this, the developers have made the game less tutorial heavy and more reliant on small bits of information to help the player. It also amused me that the spellbook has a sense of humor.
The spellbook carries Zia’s spells as well as acquired augmentations for use.
There are four spell types:
- Immedi – An electrical ability
- Actus – The fireball ability
- Creo – An ice ability
- Ego – The shield ability
You can augment each ability in your spellbook. You can also rename and alter these abilities anytime Zia is not in combat. Certain puzzles sporadically require these augments. But others require more frequent use.
In terms of those augments, some can entail multiple spells as opposed to those with more restrictions.
For example, the ‘detonate’ ability uses the Immedi spell. But the ‘move’ ability utilizes Actus, Creo and Ego.
It’s important to note that in the latter case, the augments you acquire are not single use! That ‘move’ ability is on two of the spells I’m using, yet I only picked up the augment once.
Visuals and Sound
Visually the game is appealing because of its cartoon style that all ages can appreciate. Parents can rest easy knowing that Mages of Mystralia has no blood splatter effects nor excessive violence. In fact, the violence in this game is no different than a Lego game.
The title is a top-down adventure game that does not allow manual camera movement. Despite that fact, the player can move around to see the elements of a puzzle. The color palette establishes a wonderful atmosphere.
The title’s peaceful music accentuates its gameplay without overtaking the experience. The music is soothing and will change based on combat encounters. But other than that, the music doesn’t stand out.
Unfortunately, this may or may not be a perk for some players.
Cons of ‘Mages of Mystralia’
One annoying thing about the story is the length of the zone-loading screentime. It takes a minute to render all of the graphics between each area of the game. While this doesn’t deter the gameplay, there were moments where the downtime was quite noticeable.
The biggest con of the game is the lack of camera control. It’d be nice to see the full puzzle first before solving them, even if it’s a brief overhead showing. In other words, the top-down view is always static – you cannot change it.
The good news is that all puzzles are solvable despite this fact.
Stylistically, this allows a higher challenge for puzzles, but having the ability to turn the camera would help in areas. For example, there are moments where objects can obstruct Zia from your view.
I used an ice ability at the bottom of the screen against a wall, and I could not judge the size of the ice patch because of the camera location. This led to Zia falling into the water, which is a bad thing.
Blast into Overall Game Thoughts
Mages of Mystralia is a game that I have wanted to play for a long time.
With the story by Ed Greenwood, the appealing concept of customizing spells, and puzzle elements, it piqued my interest quickly.
Even after playing the short demo at Dreamhack Montreal, I wanted to experience the full game. As a result, I enjoy the straightforward story, animated graphics style, top-down gameplay and thought-provoking puzzles. Mages of Mystralia is a game suitable for all ages and is available to play on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
All images belong to Borealys Games.