With a Zelda-like campaign and a deep spell building system, Mages of Mystralia aims to make its name in the action-adventure genre.
In the Kingdom of Mystralia, mages aren't very fondly looked upon. After the last mage-king went mad and nearly destroyed the kingdom with his magical abilities, mages were thrust out of power and sentenced to death. That's not good news for Zia, a young girl who accidentally discovers her magical abilities and must quickly flee to avoid persecution.
Mages of Mystralia puts you in control of Zia throughout her adventure in the kingdom of Mystralia. Thanks to her mage abilities, she's able to discover a secret village where the last living mages reside. She learns from them how to control her powers and use them for good as well as how to hide them from the public so she can't be identified as a mage. Throughout the 10 to 15 hour campaign, you'll learn and craft new spells, slay hundreds of goblins, solve plenty of puzzles, and unlock the hidden secrets of Mystralia. Combat consists entirely of magic; yes, even your melee attack is actually powered by your magical abilities. Alongside melee, you're also able to cast long range projectiles, cause powerful rainstorms, shield yourself from enemies, and much more. That is, of course, once you put the appropriate spells together first.
The complex and deep spell crafting system in Mages of Mystralia takes a while to learn but it's immensely fun to tinker with. Initially, your magical abilities are pretty weak but as you learn new spell abilities like Rain, Move, Homing, and Size; you can greatly increase your spells' range and strength. There are even Trigger abilities that allow you to activate a brand new spell at the tail-end of your previous spell. The combinations are just about endless and if you have a mind for experimentation, you'll love the spell crafting features here.
There are also four magic types you can infuse each spell with. Fire, wind, air, and earth all react differently with each spell, giving you even more options to create powerful and unique attack and defense spells. Enemies are generally immune to one of the four spell types so you'll definitely want to build spells that mix magic types and swap between them regularly. If all this sounds a bit too complex for your liking, don't be too intimidated as you can easily complete the campaign and craft useful spells by only getting familiar with the core abilities like Move and Mastery. Besides, the campaign isn't very complex and plays similarly to a top-down Zelda game.
You'll run into a few different types of puzzles in Mages of Mystralia. Some are mandatory while others are optional to unlock upgrades and spell abilities. These puzzles are mostly very traditional and include pressing switches and lighting torches. There is one unique puzzle type that involves placing circle objects on different sections of a grid to line them up in the correct order. It's hard to explain but easy to learn and I enjoyed taking a break from the adventure once in a while to solve these puzzles.
While the combat and puzzles are a whole lot of fun, there are a few drawbacks that hurt the experience a bit. Killing enemies isn't very rewarding as there's no experience earned from them so eventually, I found myself just running away from them since they regularly respawn after you've gone back and forth between areas. This issue is compounded by the fact that fast travel isn't robust enough. There are only 3 fast travel spots in the entire game but there are about a dozen large areas you'll want to explore. This leads to a whole lot of time backtracking across the same areas, mostly ignoring everything around you until you get to your desired spot. Each unique area should probably have its own fast travel portal, something that would be especially helpful for completionists trying to collect every ability and power orb. I spent just over 15 hours getting 100% completion on the harder difficulty but I'd estimate that almost 2 of those hours were simply spent trekking back and forth across the kingdom as I worked on the optional collectibles.
Mages of Mystralia's combat and puzzles are enjoyable and the unique spell crafting system allows for a nearly endless amount of customization. The lack of robust fast traveling may bog the backtracking down but not enough to dampen Zia's grand adventure.
- + Truly unique spell crafting mechanics
- + It's tons of fun to utilize and test your crafted spells in combat
- + Clever puzzles that aren't too tough
- - Spell crafting requires a lot of practice
- - Killing enemies isn't very rewarding (eventually you'll start running past them)
- - Not enough fast travel points