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Game Review #146: Mages of Mystralia (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: Chad M.

Developer: Borealys Games

Publisher: Borealys Games

Category: Action, Adventure

Release Date: 01.29.2019

Price (at time of review): $19.99

Buy Mages of Mystralia from the Nintendo eShop here.

Wizards, Witches and Mages... OH MY!

On the eShop the action-adventure genre is rather dense, with lots of options depending on preference, play style, and graphics. What about taking Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series and dropping her in an action-adventure game that feels similar to Zelda Wind Waker? This must have been the idea - or somewhat close to it - for two entrepreneurs and old friends that formed the Montreal-based company Borealys Games. They had a vision and like so many smaller indie content creators they took to crowdsourcing through Kickstarter. They asked for a very reasonable $25,000 and not only hit that goal but smashed it by over 930%, hitting almost $235,000 over the length of the Kickstarter campaign.

No Mages Allowed... Keep Out!

The game is set in the land of Mystralia and follows Zia, a mage who has recently discovered her powers. After exiling herself from her village due to the turmoil she caused with her powers, she travels to a mage sanctuary to improve her magic skills. Zia is then tasked with preventing a war between an army of trolls and the Kingdom of Mystralia, learning more of her destiny whilst uncovering a more sinister plot.

Zia’s exile and mages being treated like second class citizens had a deeper feeing than what I expected from a children’s game. It felt like Zia was dealing with xenophobia from the townspeople in the villages. Some were kind, but most seem to treat Zia harshly. The tale of her travel to the Sanctuary and learning from her teacher and the headmaster made it feel like I was heading to Hogwarts while learning how to be a powerful mage.

How Do Things Work Around Here?

As an action-adventure game, I was thrown at first when I couldn’t jump and I was immediately worried about how the controls and overall gameplay was going to turn out. I’m glad to say that I was worried for nothing as the controls quickly made sense and felt very responsive and tight. Of course we have the normal movement, a shield for blocking, and then the A, B, X, and Y buttons are connected to spells you learn from the spell book that becomes kind of your sidekick and guide all in one. The four basic spells are Immedi, Actus, Creo, and Ego and all of these, plus health and mana, can be upgraded through finding items along the way that help you grow your stats.

You can also modify your spells by adding runes. For example you can take a simple fire orb and turn it into a fireball. Add another rune and you can turn it into a massive or triple fireball. You interact with the environments in a way that lays out the game to make it feel very natural. Also interacting with the locals and woodland creatures highlighted a very well-written story that was laid out nicely and enhanced the game experience greatly, which made sense after I saw that the story and dialogue were written by the great Ed Greenwood of Dungeon and Dragons and many a fantasy novel fame.

Fun Times or Nah? - Audio & Visuals

The game was a lot of fun overall. The fighting wasn’t always as satisfying as I’d hoped, but as the story progressed I was able to improve my spells and the enemies became more difficult, which really fleshed out the combat in a satisfying way. Of course you can choose from easy, normal, and hard difficulties to give yourself more of a challenge. The puzzles will also grow increasingly harder as you go but you can sometimes pay for hints using the green orbs you collect. Another aspect I enjoyed was the boss fights. They look great and followed the normal find the pattern and beat the boss blueprint, but they were still a lot of fun.

The audio for Mages of Mystralia is done in triple-A fashion with an original score performed by the Video Game Orchestra and orchestrated by Shota Nakama, one of the masterminds behind the scores of Final Fantasy XV and The Kingdom Hearts II.5 HD Remaster. To say the least it’s beautifully done and dynamic, meaning that depending on where you are and how you respond the music will adapt to you. The visuals of the game are beautiful and very nicely polished. The dev team has worked on loads of triple-A games and they really put in the effort to make Mages of Mystralia shine. The art design of both the characters and levels are masterfully crafted and you can see the love put into bringing this cartoony, magical world to life.

It’s A Wrap!

In closing, Mages of Mystralia was a fun, well-paced game that I enjoyed for my entire play-through. The story and solid gameplay helped to make this small, indie title by a great new developer really shine. If you’re looking for a fun action-adventure game and/or like anything related to wizards and witches then I recommend trying Mages of Mystralia.

Score: 8/10

Buy Mages of Mystralia from the Nintendo eShop here.

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*Review Code Provided by Borealys Games

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