I decided that whenever I finish a game I’m going to do a quick and dirty analysis of those games. Basically what works, what doesn’t, and what’s interesting.

First up is Mages of Mystralia. A game made in Canada, yet named itself after Australia for some reason. You play as an apprentice mage called Zia who looks at the sky one night and accidentally awakened her magic and blew up her house and family.

So here is the hook of the game, you are an apprentice. Which means you have to learn your craft. You start with four basic spells. A close range attack, a fireball, a spell to make terrain, and a shield/movement spell. But with each of these spells they have lots of different runes that can be attached to your spells which will change how your spells behave. This is the best part of the game by far. As a filthy a smashed avo eating millennial, I like my Harry Potter. And every kid who read Harry Potter has at one point wanted to go to Hogwarts, study magic, and make my own spells. Most games, you have a set list of spells that you unlock when you level up. Mages of Mystrafrica is probably the closest any game has come to that fantasy with its mechanics.

But the other spell tome has to drop eventually,  Mages of Mystrermany decided that rather than focusing on the best part of the game it would focus on combat; The part of the game that makes most of the magic system’s depth, redundant. See there is no value in crafting the perfect spell for any given combat scenario because its most effective to mash your fireball until all the goblins are dead (at least until you unlock the rain augment, then you spam rain with fire instead).

Now there are parts of the game that do reward you for exploring the depth of the magic system, but this is all side content. You have to go out of your way to experience this stuff, and usually with a lot of backtracking. For example you will find puzzles that you have to come back to later because you just haven’t found the correct spell augments yet. The result is a structure such that shepherds you along the critical path, despite the side content being the most engaging part.

So roundup time. There is an amazing game at the heart of Mages of Mystrundepants, but they forgot to focus in on and execute on that core fantasy. If you are ever planning on including magic in your game, a similar system of having different combine-able spell effects is a really good idea and you should look into it, just remember to tighten up your controls and don’t throw countless waves of boring mobs at the player.