“It’ll put a spell on you!”

Mages of Mystralia is an action-adventure game lovingly crafted by Borealys Games. Borealys Games are an independent development studio from Canada consisting of 12 dedicated members. Mages of Mystralia was in part funded by the ‘Canada Media Fund’ and while this fact alone doesn’t really impact the game in any way, it’s nice to see a studio that call themselves ‘Independent’ actually be independent. Mages of Mystralia was a labour of love for the team at Borealys and it shows; the game is finally available on the Nintendo Switch and they kindly sent a code for us here at Game Hype to try our hand at the game and it’s most unique feature…it’s spell crafting. 

As you combine runes, your spells become truly epic.

You take control of Zia, a young girl in the beautifully rendered fantasy world of Mystralia. Once those able to wield magic were celebrated in the land of Mystralia, lauded for their arcane gifts. However, this all changed once the Mad King took the throne. The King being able to wield powerful magics combined with the power of being King corrupted him. The Mad king set village after village aflame; eventually the Mad King was stopped and the use of magic was outlawed. Those who show an affinity for magic are now exiled from their homes for the supposed safety of the community. This is where we meet Zia, after magic power erupts from within Zia, she flees her town and heads into the woods distraught and alone. 

Zia, The hero of Mages of Mystralia.

It’s here where she meets ‘Mentor’ and the game begins in earnest. Very little time is wasted and you’re off to explore the world of Mystralia with the games 4 basic spells in their default forms, each one with an associated element. Put simply the spells are pretty much Ego (Wind), Creo (Ice), Actus (fire) and Immedi (lighting). Each spell and and it’s associated element form the crux of the gameplay, certain puzzles and enemies react differently to each element and likewise are weak or resistant to specific elements. Later on in the game, you’ll be able to add runes (upgrades) to your spells to make them more powerful and useful. A prime example of this would be adding the ‘move’ ability to your Actus spell, once you’ve done so your fireball created by Actus now shoots across the screen as your basic ranged attack, however, it also doubles as a key ability for many of the game’s puzzles.

Some of which require pyres to be lit successively in a set time limit, they’ll be spaced too far apart for Zia to reach on foot, not to worry, your fireball can be hurled to both pyres within the time limit. Solving the games puzzles rewards you with in game currency which can be spent to upgrade Zia’s health or mana pool. The puzzles you’ll really want to solve though have a much better reward, new upgrades for your spells! Seeing as the rewards are all the more exotic the puzzles you must solve are all the more challenging, often involving a myriad of rune combinations to complete. Now this is where Mages of Mystralia starts to step into it’s own. The world of Mystralia is impressively large and filled with puzzles, many of which you won’t be able to complete until you’ve unlocked abilities from later in the game. Now, in most circumstances I hate back-tracking in games but with Mages of Mystralia the puzzles are so engaging that the moment I unlock a new rune I’m racing back across the beautifully designed world to finally beat that puzzle. 

However, traveling though the world isn’t a stroll through a pretty puzzle filled paradise. The world of Mystralia is full of an impressive variety of enemies, and they aren’t all that easy to dispatch. (Once they are defeated they vanish in a  ‘poof’ of smoke that evokes memories of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker).

Combat at the start of the game is a stressful experience as Zia’s magic skills are still in their infancy. Once you develop Zia’s magical might however, combat goes from stressful experience to an almost maniacal massacre. Maybe I’ve got more in common with the Mad King than the game’s heroine but hurling lightning infused fireballs at enemies that only a few hours before were a cause for concern is absolutely thrilling. However, don’t let your new found power lull you into a false sense of security, each area of the world has a boss encounter that is almost nostalgically perfect. The bosses have repeated attack patterns, huge amounts of health and each one will challenge you in a new way.

The feeling of playing a game (rather than an overly cinematic story in which gameplay almost takes a backseat) permeates every single aspect of Mages of Mystralia. It was clearly crafted to be a callback to a simpler, purer time in gaming. There’s no hint of ‘live services’ or ‘Micro-Transactions’ and it’s simply a joy to experience. Not to mention the number of games that launch full of bugs with a huge day one patch. In contrast, Mages of Mystralia runs almost perfectly. Not once during my time with Zia did I encounter a single bug, the game is fantastically crafted. 

I played Mages of Mystralia on the Nintendo Switch and I think simply being on a Nintendo platform may have added to the nostalgic feelings I had while playing the game. No matter the format you decided to pick up Mages of Mystralia on, I couldn’t recommend it more. 

A Nintendo Switch review code was provided by Borealys Games.