Review: Mages of Mystralia – Nintendo Switch version
Get your spellcrafting on.
“In a world of magic, your mind is your greatest weapon. Learn the ways of magic and design your own spells to fight enemies, navigate treacherous terrain, and right past wrongs in the kingdom of Mystralia.”
Mages of Mystralia landed on the Nintendo Switch on the 29th of January. Here’s why developer Patric Mondou’s two-year-old action-adventure brainchild, a product of Borealys Games, is worth the play.
You begin your journey as lovable character Zia, a natural born mage in a time where magic is both feared and outlawed due to reprehensible actions of one particularly evil mage in the past (BBC One’s Merlin, anyone?) The game is beautiful, cutscenes and loading screens resemble Ni No Kuni concept art.
Meanwhile, actual gameplay and graphics are reminiscent of both Legend of Zelda Wind Waker and Breath of the wild. For example, you run around a world breaking pots for health and currency, boss battles have sequences you must complete in order to win, and you can also trade in orbs (like Zelda’s heart containers) for health and stamina upgrades. Though the game has allowed me to make 15 references, there are so many things about it that are unique.
Spellcasting in Mages of Mystralia
First of all, the spellcasting system is bonkers, literally limitless combinations of spells, created by linking runes bearing behaviors, augments, and triggers. You combine these to create spells both useful and not, whether a spell is one or the other is only discernible by trial and error. This is a mechanism that I feel is sorely missed in other games where one plays a mage character.
Rather than learn, equip, and go you have to use your intellect to create effective combinations, which is exactly what the developer wanted. This spell crafting system is explained in excruciating, but necessary detail by Mondou himself.
The feel of the game is charming, with an original orchestral score conducted by Shota Nakama and performed by the Video Game Orchestra (Final Fantasy XV, Kingdom Hearts) to suck you into your new life as a fledgling mage.
The worlds and story of Mystralia
There are more areas than would be expected from a somewhat linear game style, with over 12 distinctly different regions that you have to revisit often to complete puzzles or quests, making it feel a little more expansive than it really is. The story is actually pretty dang impressive. This should come as no surprise considering it was written by bestselling author Ed Greenwood.
Greenwood was the creator of a Dungeons and Dragons fantasy world called the Forgotten Realms which went on to inspire games like Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights. This is important to note because Patric Mondou wanted a D&D-esque feel to his game and modeled his initial spell crafting mechanics off of it.
Bottom line, if you’re looking for a mindless hack and slash, this ain’t it chief. If you want to experience a whimsical yet complex take on the action-adventure/puzzler/role-playing genres it’s definitely worth the $19.99.
A copy of the game was provided for the purpose of this review.
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