Review: Mages of Mystralia

Dec 17, 2018

  • Gorgeous, original world design
  • Creative magic system
  • Load times are slow

Developed by Borealys
Available for $19.99 on PS4, XBOX One, PC (Steam, GOG, Humble), and Nintendo Switch (January 29)

Mages of Mystralia is a gem. I don’t want to take away from the original work by developer Borealys, but this is one hell of a Zelda-like! The world of Mystralia is fun and endearing, with an original story and a magic system that deserves a spotlight. Mages stands out with a colorful world, charming characters, and a spellcrafting system – meaning you can create your own spells!

Mages of Mystralia is a gem.

What’s Good

There is so much good here, I can hardly contain myself. I’ll start with the gameplay. Mages is a top-down adventure where you attack and defend from a variety of enemies, while navigating puzzles in a vibrant world. In Mages, you play as Zia. She wakes up one day and finds out she’s a mage! Or, at least she has the capacity to become a powerful mage. She’s guided by a mysterious, comical character named Mentor. He quickly sends Zia out on a quest, and the game just takes off from there. Along this journey you’ll encounter a real cast of funny characters. There are a few optional fetch quests that have you collecting flower bulbs, for example. They don’t get in the way of your adventure, and the rewards can be really helpful. In fact, I was rewarded with a spell rune from a side quest. That rune was really helpful to me in the 3rd boss battle. I died 3 times before trying this new spell combination. So cool and rewarding!

One of the most important elements to a game, for me, is feedback (think controller rumble and audible/visual cues). Mages provides awesome feedback from breaking pots or activating switches. I wouldn’t feel this way if the puzzles weren’t built well. Fortunately, they are! Your primary resources are health and mana. While you can use mana shards to refill when low, they’re scarce. So plan on completing the optional puzzles and arenas scattered around the world so you can collect purple soulbead that you can redeem for more health and mana. 

Just like a beautifully designed boss battle in Zelda or Mario, the bosses in Mages are generally a 2 or 3 stage cycle. The difficulty spikes highly from simple enemies in the world. But they’re not so difficult that you’d rage quit (it’s no Sundered!). At the end of each most battles you’re rewarded with a boost to maximum health and mana. The final battle is incredibly 
memorable. It’s one of the best endgame boss battles I’ve ever played. It’s a great balance of intuitive, fun, and challenging. And it’ll test your skills that you’ve learned throughout the game. 

What Needs Improvement

The spellcrafting system is spectacular. All of the important spells are provided to you, while the optional runes that modify your spells are sprinkled throughout the world. Finding a single optional rune can really turn a battle around. This all sounds great – and it is. The system is so diverse that it will lead to dozens and dozens of different spells. You can map up to 6 spells to each of the 4 attacks. On the Nintendo Switch, specifically, switching from any of the those 6 spells is difficult when you’re in a hurry (such as while in combat). I haven’t played Mages on the PC, but I would hope you could assign any keyboard button to any spell. That would be incredible, if it isn’t overwhelming.

Regardless of the platform, I would suggest more challenging puzzles near the endgame. I found the last 3 dungeons to be quick, relative to the others. And while I loved the final battle, I felt the build-up to it during the final stage was much too quick and easy.

Who is this For?

Mages of Mystralia is for gamers that love adventure games with puzzles and quirky humor. I found Mages to be accessible, despite a powerful and diverse spellcrafting system. 


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