Review – Mages of Mystralia
Mages of Mystralia starts out as an action-RPG that follows the exploits of Zia, a new mage who discovers her powers by accidentally destroying her home. After that inauspicious start, Zia is thrust into an evil plot and will have to come to terms with her powers on the fly.
While Mages of Mystralia looks like a bright and cheerful action-RPG, the heart of the game is the combat system that’s equal parts puzzle game and test of your aim and reflexes. Zia has access to four spells that cover elements like Actus (fire) and Creo (ice), but that’s just the start of the systems thanks to a rune upgrade system. The basic melee-ranged fire spell, for example, can have a rune added to become a fireball, that ‘bounces’ off walls to hit hidden targets – and while that’s certainly useful in combat it’s even more useful in solving environmental puzzles.
Take free-form elements like customizing spells with runes and add being able to chain them together, and suddenly Mystralia requires a lot more thought put into the combat than I’d expected going in. Even putting the puzzles aside, Mystralia rewards brains over brawn. If a boss is giving the player issues, it might not be a simple case of learning the pattern – they might need to rework their spellbook to match the fight.
Unlocking a new rune and developing it into a new ability unlocks, Metroidvania-style, new locations on the map. Areas open that were inaccessible the first time through, necessitating some backtracking to check out those new spots, but the rewards are worth the trip.
Mages of Mystralia launches January 29 on Nintendo’s platform, and is available now on PC, PS4 and Xbox One.