Dan Adelmen, whom you may have heard of from the likes of such games as Chasm and Axiom Verge, has picked up a third game to help publish. With the pedigree between those two, you know that Mages of Mystralia has to have something special going for it. And it does. Think something like Magicka meets The Legend of Zelda. The brief demo only gave a short taste of that here, but the ideas here are super exciting.
You’re looking at a top down Zelda-like, with a super adorable art style that feels somewhere between Wind Waker and Minish Cap, to keep the Zelda comparison going. It’s polygonal, so not full on 2D, but still with a glossy sheen around all of it that makes it pop out in a really gorgeous way. The effects surrounding all of the magic flying left and right is what did the title justice, not just the cute goblin monsters and the young protagonist. It felt adventurous in a way that reminded me of a stylized Ittle Dew, oddly enough.
But the core of the game is creating your own spells. The demo had what very much felt like a sampler platter of what was possible. There were four types of spells, a barrier that went on you (leaf magic), an orb spell (fire magic), a conjuring spell, which made platforms underneath me (ice magic), and a melee spell, which served as a close range attack (lightning magic). Now, I don’t know if you’ll be able to swap out these four categories for different elemental types, switching around the kinds of magic can do what, but for this demo, they were all locked to their respective elements and respective buttons, which were the face buttons on the controller.
The hook was that each spell had a grid menu that you could slot modifiers into. As I passed through the five-room demo, each introducing a new kind of magic, and then facing you with a boss, I got more and more options. Let’s say, the fire-orb magic, doesn’t move when you conjure it. It actually just makes an orb of fire where you are, and it’s completely stationary. Slot in the “move” modifier, and bam: you’ve got a classic launching fireball. Alright, spice that up with a multiply and boomerang modifier and you’ve got three fireballs shooting outward and then swinging back around to you if they don’t decimate everything in their path. Not cool enough? Let’s add on heat-sinking and exploding onto them, so they will not only fly out and come back, but divide and conquer, exploding on impact for massive damage.
Now, you do have a recharging magic meter, so if you have a ton of modifiers on your spells, you’ll need to wait longer between casting them, but when I got the boss, my fireball spell was sick enough that it just wrecked every enemy in the room in a few seconds.
The mechanics weren’t just devastating in combat either. By conjuring platforms with the modifiers of multiply and move, I could create a line of ice platforms to get across massive gaps. The implications for puzzles are huge, and I’d love to see what other ideas are on the table. If it’s anything like Magicka, the number is insurmountable.
The game is coming out sometime next year, and seems like a really novel adventure idea that I’m excited to see more of.