Rating : 6/10
Delving into a fully-fledged world of magic and enchantment is always a real pleasure. From fascinating lore to beautifully-crafted worlds, getting a chance to explore a sorcerer’s domain never gets old. Mages of Mystralia presents both a puzzle-filled adventure for those who enjoy magical realms, and a well-told story involving politics, corruption, and the complexities of being a wizard. You play as the young mage Zia, who really just wants to be a normal girl. After accidentally burning down her house, Zia is exiled from her hometown by the mage-fearing general public. As a new member of the magic community, she must learn the art of spellcraft and uncover a dark force that’s much closer than anyone thinks.
Mages of Mystralia plays as an adventure game with a little bit of everything. Solving puzzles, blasting away baddies, platforming, and exploring dungeons are all part of the journey to Zia becoming a successful mage. Although not open world, the game takes place in the vast land of Mystralia, which feels quite Zelda-inspired. A concentration on worldbuilding and storytelling definitely went into crafting the land of Mystralia too, as statues of fallen legends and the stories of their epic adventures are scattered all over the place. If you go into this game looking for lore, you’ll find it quite easily.
The main storyline surrounding Zia is pretty generic — essentially just a accelerated variant of the Harry Potter saga. As she learns new spells and becomes more powerful, Zia gains respect in the eyes of both fellow mages and evil forces lurking in the darkness. No longer an apprentice, Zia is soon tasked with some of the most dangerous missions the mages have ever faced. The central plotline here isn’t the strongest, but the fictional backstory surrounding it keeps everything chugging along.
Speaking of adding new spells to your arsenal, the spell system in Mages of Mystralia is rather unique. Instead of simply finding ready-made spells in the wild, players must use their brains to craft different utility charms depending on the situation. Creatively fusing different runes and spell behaviors keeps you thinking at each and every new obstacle. For example, you may need to curve a fireball to the right in order to light a brazier, which then opens a locked door. In order to do this, you’ll need to bind both a mobility spell and a curve rune onto a central fireball spell. Puzzles like these lurk at every turn and it’s your job to figure out how to get spells to accomplish exactly what you want.
Although most of the game rides on solving puzzles with your magic powers, there’s a bit of straightforward combat involved as well. While boss battles are generally just another puzzle to solve, standard enemies dish out enough damage to pose a slight threat. On that note, the create-a-spell setup is a blast when you’re just messing around with different attack spells to obliterate these basic minions. I wish there were more opportunities to use damage combos though, as I created a pretty awesome exploding triple-fireball attack that I hardly got to use. I feel like the game should have taken advantage of the combat aspect of spell creation much more, as the focus is solely on using the system to complete various puzzles. Nothing ever asks you to create different attack combinations; it was just something I decided to experiment with.
Another drawback to Mages of Mystralia is its pacing. With an ambient soundtrack and slow-moving storyline, feeling emotion doesn’t really play a part in your adventure. I had trouble getting immersed in the game even though I could easily appreciate it as a work of art. Mystralia has such a rich history, but the same cannot be said for most of its residents. Even Zia herself is a stale character who doesn’t show many feelings other than confusion for the most part. Also, Mages of Mystralia feels rushed with approximately seven hours of playtime. From the game’s outset you’re led to expect a good amount of mage training and build-up, as Zia initially meets a mentor who promises that the road to becoming a mage is long and arduous. Yet, a series of events skip the story along to the point where you don’t really care about what’s happening. Even so, there’s still a significant portion of backtracking involved which doesn’t really do a great job of filling in the gaps.
Ultimately, Mages of Mystralia is a beautiful looking game containing balanced gameplay surrounded by solid folklore. You might doze off during a dungeon or two, but everything is balanced enough for the most part. The spellcrafting system is one-of-a-kind, but contributes to puzzle-solving much more than it does combat. Either way, the puzzles are varied and fair in terms of difficulty, but weak character development and jumpy pacing will surely throw you off. In essence, Mages of Mystralia is played to admire Mystralia itself, while the game as a whole isn’t quite as appealing.
Mages of Mystralia is a beautiful looking game containing balanced gameplay surrounded by solid folklore. The spellcrafting system is one-of-a-kind, but contributes to puzzle-solving much more than it does combat. Either way, the puzzles are varied and fair in terms of difficulty, but weak character development and jumpy pacing will surely throw you off.
Still plays Wii Sports more than he’d like to admit.