I have kept it no secrets how I truly feel about Metroidvania games. I LOVE them. Of the games that are on my replay list, Metroidvania titles make up the lion’s share. So, when the developers of Mable & The Wood approached us about checking out a demo of their upcoming title, I could not pass up the opportunity.
Mable & The Wood begins in a shady glade where a mysterious ritual it taking place. Cultists in their culty frocks are performing some incantation which summons a red headed child into existence. This girl was not what they were counting on, yet here she is, the Bringer of Dawn – fabled sword of legend and all. There is just one problem: Mable can’t lift the sword to save her life.
Thanks to her innate gift, she won’t have to.
You see, Mable possess the power to transform into legendary beasts. While her powers are limited to transformation into a faerie to begin with, she will, upon besting these beasts, acquire new forms to take. Each form taken works in tandem with her magical blade, allowing her to hurl it great distances or leave it behind only to be recalled to her position. Mable must handle this power with care, she can only stay within these forms for a limited time!
So, how does all of this function in a Metroidvania space?
It definitely creates a need think differently about the genre.
While some of the genre tropes still exist (i.e. get special power, use special power to open new area), Mable & The Wood gives you a measure of freedom for how you use your abilities. This means that you really do not have to kill anything to traverse the landscape if you don’t want to… though, it will help. Killing the denizens of the land will refill your magic bar. They may also drop diamonds (currency) or hearts – the kind that refill your life bar, not the blood pumping organ.
This demo gave us but a brief taste of the experience that Mable & The Wood has is store for players upon release during the summer of 2019. I am intrigued to see how these mechanics function long-term as the game progressed. While it does make an interesting plot device, the lack of mobility outside of a form could overshadow this unique mechanic to be more of a frustrating gimmick. This might be solved through the use of a controller, but it does not seem to support the PlayStation DualShock 4 or Nintendo Pro Controllers.
One thing that will need some attention before release is the option to actually exit the game. So far, the only option Mable & The Wood gives you is to exit to the main menu. Any buttons pressed from there will start the game all over again!I had to Alt-Tab out of the application and terminate it via the task bar. Not a game breaker, but helpful.
All things considered, Mable & The Wood shows promise to be a truly unique Metroidvania experience with a ton of charm. The art harkens back to the era of 16-bit titles, conjuring a soundtrack in the spirit of Chrono Trigger. I will be eager to see this as a full experience!
Until then, keep it locked in here at GameSpace!
Note: Our copy was reviewed on Steam with a code provided by PR.