Mask of Mists is posed as an action-adventure puzzle game set within a magical world. As far as the action-adventure side of things go, you may be a little disappointed once you delve into the game as there really isn’t much here. However, as a puzzle game, this is a real gem.
The storyline of Mask of Mists is fairly simple. There are no missions or chapters here. Instead you are following one large story arc of finding out what has happened to the archmage, a mysterious figure who has seemingly vanished. It’s up to you to discover the truth of what has happened to them. The story isn’t divided up into chapters or sections either, it’s just one long level from the off.
This isn’t a bad thing, of course. Mask of Mists isn’t a game you will pick up before you enjoy lore-heavy titles. This is a game you play because you want something that’s easy-going in terms of story but offers a good amount of challenge in terms of core mechanics.
As you continue through the game, you’ll start to discover notes, scrolls, diary entries and small tidbits of information that offer a backstory to the world and help you move forward in your investigations. This is a neat way of providing context on the world and the wider game, as it gives players a reason to explore every nook and cranny.
The art style of Mask of Mists is great. It’s got a cartoony feel to it, but it’s not over the top. It’s full of bright colours and eye-catching structures. It’s a fairly low poly game but the developer has worked well with the assets and it all comes together to create a medieval world. The structure and flow of the world makes sense.
Mask of Mists is played in the first-person view, so unfortunately you don’t get to see your budding adventurer as they go about their business. For the type of game that Mask of Mists is, this works well as it provides an unobstructed view of the world, which can be a life- saver when engaging in some of the puzzles. However, I did find the motion blur to be a little overwhelming when I first booted up the title, and there doesn’t seem to be a way to change this, so that is something to bear in mind.
So harking back to the action-adventure/puzzle hybrid that Mask of Mists is stated to be, there’s a lot more on the puzzle side compared to the action-adventure side. Sure, you are an adventurer in a fantasy world and there are weapons and combat (something we’ll get into later), but it’s fairly flat and simple. The real shining light of the game is the puzzle aspect.
These come in a variety of different shapes and sizes. Sometimes you will be hunting for a key, the next you will be unlocking doors by using the correct sequence and other times you’ll be finding secret levers. As a puzzle game, you’ll need to overcome these in order to progress through the game.
The puzzles themselves are both simple and challenging at the same time. Take hunting for a key, for example. That’s a pretty straight-forward ask, right? Sure, but there are also times where you may need to complete a sequence puzzle before getting that key. Certain parts of the game require multiple steps in order to progress on, meaning what initially looks like a simple task can turn into a multi-step mega puzzle.
The world of Mask of Mists isn’t huge, and there aren’t really any separate maps to explore. Everything is contained in one giant map, with sections restricted until you have progressed far enough into the game. You’ll start off in a small town of sorts, before moving into forests and caves, all the while completing puzzles to unlock new areas.
One big downside of this however, is that you will be retracing your steps. A lot. Since the world is essentially one big map, you may find one specific area is locked behind a gate. So you go off in another direction, only to find a key to that first gate. So you need to head back over to where you were previously. Be prepared to do this time and time again. Even when you get far into the game, there will be times when you’ll need to head back to earlier areas.
There’s no compass or minimap here either, so you’re completely 100% on your own. You’ll have to remember where everything is. Found a gate that needs a key? You’ll need to remember how you got there, as you travel back through the world to find said key. That’s not a complaint of course, there would be no reason to give the player a minimap for the type of game Mask of Mists is.
As mentioned, Mask of Mists does feature combat. It’s a simple setup. You have a sword – which can be upgraded to another type of sword – for a good chunk of the game. When you’ve progressed far enough, you’ll unlock a pistol to go alongside it and that’s pretty much it. Your sword and your gun. This gives you access to melee and ranged combat but be prepared to engage in some pretty boring fights.
Melee combat is simply a swipe. There are no abilities or anything like that. It’s just a swipe of a sword. The pistol is an okay addition, but you’ll be firing 3 bullets and then you’ll need to find some more. There’s not a lot going on here at all.
Enemies are also pretty simple. There are a couple of different variants of enemies but they are essentially the same thing. You’ve got a slime that bites you, some strange plant-creature that shoots you and can slow you down. You’ve also got a strange mushroom-like creature that chases you and tries to wallop you one. After a while, fighting the same enemies with the same basic combat can get boring.
A pretty cool aspect of Mask of Mists is the dungeons. These are specific areas where you’ll be delving into the depths in order to activate some crystals. There’s 6 of these dungeons in total and whilst they offer the same basic structure: get in, kill enemies, overcome puzzles and then activate the crystal, each one is slightly different in layout and what you will have to face, so kudos here for some good variety.
You don’t just have your sword and pistol during your adventure. There is a crafting system available in Mask of Mists. You are able to gather plants and other ingredients as you journey across the map, and can bring these to a number of crafting tables that are scattered about the place.
You’ll mostly be crafting potions. These can offer permanent upgrades, like being able to stay in poisoned areas longer, whereas others are single-use, such as health potions. Everything is crafted from one table, so as long as you have the required materials, you’ll be able to craft away to your hearts content.
Crafting is also used in the puzzle aspect of the game. With some areas needing you to craft specific potions in order to advance the story and enter a new area. For example, I came across a locked basement door that required me to create an anti-rust potion (the game doesn’t tell you this of course, that’s part of the puzzle itself).
You’ve also got your standard inventory set up here. Pressing up on the directional pad will show you all of your equipment, potions and ingredients. Pressing down will show you all of your notes and bits that you have discovered on your travels, meaning you can always look up something with ease.
All in all, Mask of Mists is an okay action-adventure game, but is a fantastic puzzle game. There’s enough complexity in the puzzles to make them interesting and give you a sense of accomplishment, but they are simple enough to not be frustrating. The storyline isn’t grand but gets the job done and the title will provide you with hours of fun.
You can grab Mask of Mists on Xbox Series X|S from the Xbox Store