PAX South 2017: ‘Mages Of Mystralia’ Gloriously Reinvents Video Game Spellcasting

Mages of Mystralia - Lizard
Mages of Mystralia Photo: Borealys

How would you feel if you woke up to discover you had the ability to use magic?

That’s the primary question behind the development of Mages of Mystralia, a new isometric action adventure title from the minds at Borealys Games. Borealys prefers to describe Mages as “Legend of Zelda meets Harry Potter” and, after spending about 45 minutes working my way through the game’s first dungeon, I’m at a loss for a better descriptor. Players assume the role of Zia, a young mage who’s just discovered her spell-casting abilities, and guide the young woman on her quest to restore 13 celestial observatories that ceased functioning properly.

Players are given the freedom to explore the kingdom of Mystralia but, much like the worlds we’ve explored throughout the Legend of Zelda series, is filled with gates and obstacles that must be overcome to make further progress. Dungeons must be explored, and the bosses waiting in their depths must be defeated, to unlock new augments, runes and other upgrades that bolster Zia’s casting abilities. The world is littered with environmental puzzles, many of which will force you to get creative with Zia’s spells, and there are plenty of enemies to fight along the way too. But it’s important for players to keep an eye on their mana bar, which begins to refill a few seconds after your last cast, because Zia is entirely reliant on her ability to cast in combat settings. Without mana, there’s not much she can to do protect herself from the many creatures encountered throughout the kingdom.

Of course, Mages of Mystralia’s real hook, at least for this Harry Potter kid trapped in an adult’s body, is that none of its spells have been hard-coded into the game. Instead, all of the magic in Mages is powered by a logic system that lets players mix and match dozens of directional, elemental and reactionary augments to create millions of unique spells and sorceries. You can even create elaborate spell combinations that lay waste to any creature unfortunate enough to be caught in the blast, like a homing fireball that shocks and detonates on impact. Or a bolt of lightning that makes boulders fall from the sky once it strikes its target. 

And building those spells is far easier than you might expect, thanks to a node system that makes it easy to tailor each one to your specific needs. Modifying each spell is as simple as dragging nodes onto a grid and ensuring the connectors on the core spell and its augments line up with your latest inclusion. Players can even unlock additional spell slots as they work their way through the campaign; a journey the studio says should take most players somewhere between 15 and 25 hours to complete.

Mages of Mystralia - Spells
Mages of Mystralia Photo: Photo: Borealys

There’s no shortage of top tier talent working on the game either. Mages of Mystralia features writing from Ed Greenwood, best known for creating Dungeons & Dragons’ Forgotten Realms setting, with a soundtrack composed by Shota Nakama and recorded by the Video Game Orchestra at SoundtRec Boston (FFXV, Kingdom Hearts). The studio also includes several industry veterans, including co-founders Louis-Felix Cauchon, who also co-founded Artifice Studio, and Patric J. Mondou, a former senior designer at Gameloft.

For a closer look at Mages of Mystralia, take a few minutes to check out the announcement trailer that debuted back in November. Then head down to the comments section and let us know what you’re hoping to see in Mages when the game hits PC and consoles later this year.

Mages of Mystralia is in development for PlayStation 4 and PC. The game is expected to debut sometime this spring.

Be sure to check back with and follow Scott on Twitter for more Mages of Mystralia coverage throughout 2017 and for however long Borealys Games supports Mages of Mystralia after launch.

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