The Mageseeker: A League of Legends Story Review
I Flew Today
The League of Legends franchise continues to expand beyond its hugely successful MOBA game. From critically acclaimed animation series Arcane to turn-based RPG Ruined King: A League of Legends Story, Riot Forge has found interesting ways to invite others into the world of League of Legends without having to take the plunge into the original game. The latest spin-off is Digital Sun’s The Mageseeker: A League of Legends Story, an action RPG based on the champion Sylas. This epic tale of revenge and addictive combat lead the way for The Mageseeker to become another successful way to attract newcomers to the universe of League of Legends.
Imprisoned for fifteen years after trying to help a mage escape from the Mageseekers, the powerful force oppressing magic-using citizens, Sylas finds an opening to break himself free and seek out revenge on those who shackled him in chains. Mageseekers rule over Demacia and their primary purpose is to find mages and imprison them by the name of public order for their use of magic. This power rips families apart, inviting betrayal of those who can use magic, and gives complete control of Demacia to the Mageseekers as they find and take away those who have the ability to overthrow them. Sylas’s revolt becomes the spark of revolution for a group of mages planning to free those being oppressed by the Mageseekers. While Sylas does not have aspirations to free mages, with his sights solely on revenge, he joins a band of revolutionaries led by Leilani.
Leilani is highly respected and has clear goals to bring peace to Demacia and allow mages and non-mages to live together. Her ideals are strong and directly opposes Sylas’s violent-focused plan, but although their two differing ideals clash often, they both respect and need each other to accomplish their goals. Their contrasting bond is exemplary and is the driving force behind the narrative. While Leilani seeks to bring peace to all people, it’s the other characters and their motives to save loved ones that give the story a personal touch. Examples are Rukko, who is trying to free his brother, and Gideon, a former Mageseeker now aiming to free his husband. The personal character stories reveal the suffering the people in Demacia are experiencing every day and gives the players impetus for the fight. The only drawback to the narrative experience is the familiarity of the plot. It is a typical revenge story that plays it safe, but the character moments are enough to elevate it.
The chains that Sylas wields are impactful both narratively and in the gameplay. These chains initially shackled him under control of the Mageseekers, but Sylas eventually learns that they can be used to his advantage. Sylas has the ability to identify mages, as well as what kind of mage they are. He then uses the chains to absorb magic from others into his chains and use it himself. The result is a thrilling action combat system that has the player strategically mapping out ways to copy magic from surrounding enemies and using them to exploit elemental weaknesses. There is a learning curve at the beginning that can cause minor frustrations, but it’s unique and addictive to use throughout the entire playthrough. The symbolism the chains hold in the story adds even more to it and that connection marries the gameplay and narrative wonderfully.
Using the chains isn’t the only means to defeat enemies. Sylas also has regular light and heavy attacks, as well as his own magic at his disposal. Light and heavy attacks get the most use as they fill up the magic bar and can be combined to create combos. Before accepting a mission, Sylas can also bring along two outlaws that who give him access to certain magic spells. Sylas is also given four magic slots that can be equipped with spells. The many different combinations can give the player fun options at their disposal to dish out maximum damage and provide a tactical component to the fast and furious combat system.
The Mageseeker’s combat system is addictive and reaches its full heights during boss battles. The player will have to exhaust all of the game’s combat mechanics to defeat these adversaries, including Sylas’s movement, as he can grapple onto hooks to move around the area faster or even enemies to close the distance quickly. Brief windows of invincibility when utilizing this movement, as well as dashing, make them powerful tools to master. Movement is most important during boss battles and epic set pieces when the screen becomes filled with magic and other dangers that Sylas has to avoid. While The Mageseeker is a moderate challenge to complete, some boss battles really test the player’s grasp of the full combat system. There are also a few difficulty options and sliders available if a fight is too hard to complete. There is always something that will have the player thinking quickly on their feet, helping prevent The Mageseeker from becoming a simple button-masher.
As Sylas recruits more people to the revolution, more of the camp becomes available, which means more upgrades do as well. Sylas can unlock magic spells by copying them from an enemy and then purchasing them from a vendor in the camp. These upgrades are all tied to main cast, with Leilani being the one who crafts those spells. The player can also upgrade Sylas’s chains to improve his attack, defense, and maximum health. The player may have difficulties choosing what to upgrade in the beginning, but over time the upgrade system becomes a race to just complete each upgrade tree as it doesn’t significantly change the gameplay. There are also over 40 spells that will become available to Sylas, but most won’t be utilized as the player finds the combination of spells they prefer.
The gameplay loop suffers the same fate as the upgrade system in that there isn’t much depth to it. Once Sylas is done with a mission, he returns to camp, discusses the next plan of action with the group, and then the player goes to the battle map to begin the next mission. This continues the entire game, and there are only a couple sidequest threads that will pop up as the player continues the main story. However, while it’s repetitive to complete, the game doesn’t wear down the player too much because of the excellent combat never growing stale. The level design also lacks variety as there are not many deviating paths to explore and the game tends to guide the player too much on interactions needed to progress. There are chests, adorable birds called silverwings, and mages to recruit littered throughout levels that can be collected. However, the rudimentary level design means that these aren’t particularly hard or fun to find.
The one good thing about the level design is the pixel art style. It is simple, but has a gorgeous color palette and background design that make Demacia feel big. The presentation is enhanced greatly by the fluid movement by characters in combat and in cutscenes. The sound design in particular is a highlight and intensifies Sylas’s heavy-hitting attacks with loud thuds and the sound of metal as Sylas throws them towards his enemies. It’s a delightful feast of sounds that harmoniously work together, especially during chaotic battles.
The Mageseeker does suffer from some technical hiccups. There were times when it was impossible to kill an enemy, cases of getting stuck in a few sports with no way to get out of them, and audio stuttering after being hit by a certain lightning spell. There were some frame rate drops in the latter half of the game in more intensive battles, but it wasn’t a continual occurrence.
Despite a simple gameplay loop and basic level design, The Mageseeker is a joyous, and addictive game to play. The repetitiveness never wears out the combat, which continues to keep the player fully engaged. While the story of revenge is a familiar one, the cast elevates it to great heights and a thrilling conclusion. The Mageseeker’s overall experience is enjoyable and it’s as very easy recommendation.
Disclosure: This review is based on a free copy of the game provided by the publisher.
Excellent and engaging combat
Epic boss battles
Some technical issues
Repetitive gameplay loop
Upgrade system lacks depth