Mages of Mystralia from Borealys Games, lands on Steam today. We’ve just snagged our codes and I’m on travel for an event for Destiny 2, but that didn’t stop me from playing about 3 hours of the immensely Kickstarted game in my hotel room. I kept saying, “After this little quest, I’ll go to bed.” But like a good Zelda game (is there a bad Zelda game?), Mages of Mystralia kept me playing for hours on end. I had to force myself to shut it down and come write this article. This is our Mages of Mystralia review in progress.
Mages of Mystralia is best described as an action-adventure game, but it’s got elements of RPGs, puzzle games, and yes the famous adventures of Link come to mind as well. Montreal-based Borealys’ first game is a pretty auspicious one. Originally only seeking $25K in funding, they raised well over $230,000 and hit all 10 of their stretch goals. You play as Zia, a young mage in training caught in a world where magic is outlawed and mages are feared or imprisoned.
Mystralia used to be ruled by benevolent mage kings, but one bad apple spoiled the whole bunch, and though new mages are born once every decade, they’re never greeted fondly. Zia accidentally sets her home village of Greyleaf ablaze and is forced to run away from home. She’s taken in by a mentor, welcomed into the Mage city of Haven, and thus begins her adventure.
The opening of the game claims Mages of Mystralia plays best with a controller, but I’ve had no issues with my mouse and keyboard. WASD, left and right click and mouse targeting for aiming works well. I can imagine the twin-stick controls of a PS4 controller would work well but fear not if you’re a PC purist. Early on you’re given the very basics of your spellbook when you happen upon an ancient tome that communicates with you telepathically. This isn’t normal for mages, but I’ll not spoil that part of the story.
As you progress through the game’s narrative, involving the Mages trying valiantly to keep the world safe while being outcast from society, you’ll find and learn new spells and runes to augment them. Using the clever puzzle-like spell crafting system, you can take your basic attacks and turn them into heat-seeking explosive rockets of magic flame. There are numerous puzzles and secrets scattered across the game world, and just like a good Zelda or Metroid, you’ll often double back and figure out how to reach said secret once you unlock a new spell or power. It’s brilliantly designed and feels like a breath of fresh air thanks to the magic system. Even though the basic tenets of the game are lifted from the greatest adventures in gaming history, the uniqueness of the spell system keeps it feeling novel.
I feel like I’ve just gotten started with Mages, though I’ve beaten two bosses already, which are also very well designed I might add. A giant Tree Wretch and an Ice Lizard are both worthy and cinematic foes to face off against in the first few hours of the game. Ed Greenwood’s writing is funny, to the point, and entertaining all around. The orchestral music of FFXV’s Shota Nakama is simply gorgeous too.
We’ll be updating this Review in Progress next week once we’ve finished the first playthrough at least. For now, if by some chance you’re not a backer of this game receiving your Steam copy as it goes live today, I’d highly recommend checking Mages of Mystralia out. I can’t put a score on it, but if you like things that are good, this one’s a no-brainer. It’s an Indie game that feels like something more, a sign of greatness to come from Borealys Games, and an amazing debut for the young studio.
Stay tuned in the coming days for our final review. And god please, let it come to the Switch too.