It’s time for another tale of dungeons and… alchemists? Yes, no dragons here. Never mind. Mystic Fate – the newest title by JanduSoft – still promises to deliver a healthy dose of high fantasy and adventure, and for a modest price too.
Set in the land of Asfand, you’ll play as Aris, a young girl who has been hand-chosen to recover the lost orbs and restore peace to her village. Along the way, she’ll also have to uncover what happened to the mysterious guild of alchemists that were once protectors of the land, as well as the fate of her brother who had embarked on the very same quest beforehand.
If that doesn’t sound like an easy feat, that’s because it isn’t. You’ll need to make your way through a variety of dungeons – each one more difficult than the last. Expect plenty of puzzles, challenging platforming and a veritable army of enemies.
Unfortunately, the biggest challenge in Mystic Fate is dealing with the shortcomings of the actual gameplay. There are no melee weapons in this game. Instead, Aris deals damage to enemies by throwing her weapons at them. Herein lies the problem. Because the sensitivity is so high, aiming with the right stick is finicky at best, and downright terrible at worst. It’s hard to hit the wall in front of you, let alone a moving enemy shooting projectiles at you. Of course, there’s no way to turn it down.
And this problem becomes even more apparent within the later dungeons where you’re met with massive pits. The game wants you to throw your sword across the gap, get it stuck into a wall, and then fly to it. It sounds simple in principle, but is frustratingly hard in practice. Even worse, you’ll often only get one chance to nail a tricky jump because, bizarrely, you can’t recall your weapon.
That’s right: the most basic mechanic of any magical thrown weapon in any game ever, is missing in Mystic Fate. So if you happen to mess up and get your sword lodged in the wrong wall, tough luck. You’ll have to fly to it and die.
It makes the game infinitely more frustrating than it should be, and at times it becomes downright unfun to play. In fact, I had to put Mystic Fate down at one point, such was my annoyance. For a game that only has about an hour’s worth of gameplay, that’s really not a good sign.
It’s a shame, because there are a lot of things that Mystic Fate does right. This is a game rich in story, for example. You’ll be getting a ton of exposition both at the start and throughout. You can talk to pretty much everyone you come across and scrolls found around the dungeons will add even more layers onto the story and fill in the blanks. For those who want to, you’ll really be able to piece together the details surrounding the alchemist guild, its fall and the war that has ravaged Asgard.
Mystic Fate also succeeds in diversifying its gameplay, by continually introducing new puzzles and mechanics for you to tackle. You’ll get new weapons and superpowers to play around with, such as dual-wielded swords or the ability to activate a kind of x-ray vision which makes previously invisible platforms appear.
There is a clear progression within the puzzle aspect of the game too, with puzzles starting off relatively easy before ramping up slightly. You’ll often need to find the perfect spot to stand in order to activate multiple lights at once. And you’ll need to time it just right so that they all activate at the same time. Later on, Mystic Fate introduces timed challenges and sliding box puzzles for you to tackle. Whilst there was definitely scope for the puzzles to be slightly more challenging than they currently are, I appreciated such variety, especially in a game as short as this.
I really enjoyed Mystic Fate’s art style too. The voxeled aesthetic made for a nice change from the bog-standard pixel art that has become an industry standard for small indie titles. The characters look great, as does the village where the game begins. I do feel like there are areas for improvement though. Each of the three dungeons, and indeed the final boss fight, all take place within the same bland, grey landscape. There should have been greater variety in the dungeon design to better differentiate them and make them stand out.
So with Mystic Fate, you have a lot of good ideas packed into a small package. It’ll take you less than an hour to get through it, but you’ll encounter a great deal of different puzzles and enemies, get to use a variety of different weapons and superpowers, and uncover a deep story. There’s also a set of really easy achievements just waiting to be unlocked.
But does all that outweigh some really rough gameplay? Not really. You’ll find that Mystic Fate is just not that fun to play. The combat system and its associated mechanics are woefully under-developed, and the game’s tendency to use those very same mechanics in the platforming sections only emphasise the problems. Look for your high fantasy elsewhere. Mystic Fate is far too frustrating to be truly enjoyable.
Mystic Fate is now ready for purchase from the Xbox Store on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One