Kickstarter Corner: Mages of Mystralia

Ooooooh.

Ooooooh.

Disclaimer: I have not had contact with any member of the development team for this campaign, but I have backed it at the base pledge level of $25 ($19 U.S.).

A good way to grab my attention is to show me something that makes me go "Dawww!" Present a charming art style, a playful hero, or a goofy bird, and I'll give you at least five minutes of my time. A great way to hold my attention is to couple that element of "Dawww" with something that sets my imagination running. Demonstrate a robust gameplay system, an engaging story, or music with the power to still me for a time, and I'll trust that you're showing me something special. When sifting through Kickstarter each week I sometimes go through dozens of projects which manage to grab my attention but fail to hold it for a significant period. They have bait, but they lack a hook. 

This morning I happened upon a bait with an ample hook, which I must admit I shamelessly gobbled up (I was the 8th backer on the campaign): Mages of Mystralia, the first project from Borealys Games. Mystralia is an action RPG where you are cast in the role of a young mage in exile who is learning to control her powers as she explores her world. The creators describe it as The Legend of Zelda meets Harry Potter, which alone would be enough to grab my interest. Add in an art style which is appealing in its vibrant simplicity, a story crafted by Forgotten Realms scribe Ed Greenwood (who looks like a wizard himself, by the by), and a musical score orchestrated by Shota Nakama (an example of which is what ultimately sold me on the project), and you have my attention.

Pictured: Ed Greenwood, the type of person I want writing about magic and such.

Pictured: Ed Greenwood, the type of person I want writing about magic and such.

The main draw of Mystralia is a free-form spell casting system which allows the player to craft their own unique spells by combining a few simple spell types with various runes to modify the behavior of those spells. The four spell types are Immedi (close range effects), Actus (ranged orbs), Creo (conjuring physical objects), and Ego (self-affecting); the three categories of runes are Behavioral (e.g. make it move, bounce, or hone in on a target); Augments (e.g. change the timing, size and the like); and Triggers (e.g. when the spell will activate). These can be combined further with one of four standard video game elements (Fire, Earth, Water and Lightning), allowing the player to adapt their spells to any situation.

Those who have played Magicka may be thinking of that game's spell creation system, wherein players combined a handful of elemental and physical properties types to craft one of a huge number of spells on the fly. Where these systems differ is the sheer scope of spells available in Mystralia, as well as the ability to save created spells in this game. A single spell type can be combined with multiple runes of each variety to create multi-faceted spells capable of remarkably complex actions. The example given within the campaign is that of an ice sculpture which initially acts as a decoy, but when combined with the Periodic rune that ice sculpture can be linked with a previously crafted fireball spell, allowing the sculpture to periodically cast the second spell while still acting as a decoy. The theoretical number of combinations is staggering, and I can't think of another RPG whose systems grant this level of freedom and accessibility.

My only reservation with this project is that the campaign itself is seemingly unnecessary: the developers themselves admit that instead of pursuing the common tactic of using the campaign as a proof of concept before seeking outside funding, the game has already been funded and developed to the point of being playable from start to finish. You were right if you thought it odd that a project with such significant names attached was asking for less than twenty grand in funding. The goal of $18,787 is merely intended to finance a couple extra months of development so that the team may polish the game further and implement some ideas they've acquired during feedback from the various conventions they've attended. The game will likely release regardless of the success of the campaign; this is, for all intents and purposes, a pre-order.*

 
Sure is pretty though.

Sure is pretty though.

 

*Note: Kickstarter is not a store, and this is not literally a pre-order for the game.

Despite my reservations I feel comfortable focusing attention on the project. What we're presented with here is already charming and whimsical, and if a modest amount of additional funding can make it even more so then I'm happy to throw my money behind the project. I appreciate the transparency as well: too many game projects use the Kickstarter platform to prove consumer interest to an outside funder without disclosing that intent until after the campaign has ended. To be in the reverse situation carries its own bitter taste, but sometimes bitter things are good for us, and I feel we could use more games like Mages of Mystralia. In this situation I wouldn't fault anyone for skipping the campaign and waiting for the game to release, but if you would like to chip in you have until April 15th to do so.


Mages of mystralia   By: borealys games   base pledge: $25 ($19 U.S.)   est. delivery: june 2017