Here we go again with the boring stuff… Mask of Mists is a puzzle game with light combat set in a magical world. It releases on several platforms on September 2nd. The publisher provided me an Xbox code for free with no expectations for this review. I played it for a little more than six hours, which was enough to beat the game. I am mostly blind, so some things I have trouble with may not affect your experience.
The story in Mask of Mists is interesting, though almost nonexistent. You have a basic cutscene at the beginning, setting your character up as a freelance “finder” getting triple your normal pay to find a missing archmage. Then there are some story tidbits from the environment and notes to read before the final short cutscene. If you are looking for a strong narrative, you should look elsewhere.
The setting is a magical world similar to medieval Earth. Magic and alchemy exist, as well as various mushroom monsters and leprechauns. It is a rather interesting world, with unique technology, faith, and even planes of existence. Unfortunately, most of the world building is done through reading a few scattered notes.
The art style is bright and contrasting, with clearly marked hazards. Even the dungeons are well lit and easy to navigate. There is no voice over, in the cutscenes or otherwise, but the text boxes are big and contrasting enough to read well.
At its core, the game is about the puzzles. There is no hint system, so getting stuck may require outside help. Fortunately, all but a few puzzles are solved with a little effort. The two times I was stuck, once early on and again very late in the game, were due to not seeing something I should, like not looking up enough. Generally speaking, you will get a clue of some sort, either spelled out in a note, or just noticing something missing. You then follow that lead until you find the solution or get sidetracked by another clue. It’s hard to tell which leads are important to progressing the story and which are side endeavors. Though the formula is repetitive, the puzzles and solutions are not. I was surprised by the variety of puzzles and happy with their difficulty. It felt good to solve each, regardless if it was important to the story or not.
The combat feels a little out of place. I understand that the monsters are there for story reasons, but all the encounters are in paths to and from locations or in dungeons. I think the game would have been fine without combat at all, converting the boss battle into a puzzle oriented cinematic encounter. I didn’t even realize until late in the game that you must equip your weapon upgrades… I went through most of the game with the basic weapons!
Overall I enjoyed the game but felt it was lacking in the story and character development department. I also never found a Mask of Mists, so that was a little disappointing. Puzzle fans, especially those that like magical medieval settings, will want to check it out.