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Review: Mystik Belle

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There's trouble a-brewin'

Life can be pretty tough to a young, upcoming witch. Just ask Belle MacFae, currently under threat of expulsion from the Hagmore School of Magic. Her crime? She ruined the Walpurgisnacht Brew, which had been painstakingly prepared for a mysterious upcoming ritual, an act that has unleashed the whole of the school faculty's wrath upon her.

The thing is, she didn't do it. Young MacFae was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, merely practicing her magic like a good student. Now, she has no choice but to gather the ingredients to mix up a new batch of the brew herself, while tracking down the nefarious wrong-uns who ruined her reputation.


Mystik Belle (PS4 [reviewed], Xbox One, PC)
Developer: Last Dimension
Publisher: WayForward
Released: October 3, 2017
MSRP: $14.99

Mystik Belle is an adventure from small outfit Last Dimension, which originally released on Steam back in 2015. Shantae publishers WayForward, clearly besotted with magical gals, have picked up the title for release on PS4 and Xbox One, tweaking various aspects of the original release to make it a little more palatable. This includes some script re-writes, new artwork and a punch-up of the game's code to improve the framerate for its debut on the console format.

I've seen Mystik Belle referred to multiple times as a Metroidvania, but I think that's definitely misleading. Yes, the action-platformer features the standard "Learn skills, access new areas" gameplay intrinsic to such games but, in actuality, it is far more closely related to the Codemasters' computer adventures of the early '90s, such as Dizzy, Seymour and Slightly Magic. Belle's search for the fabled ingredients take her back-and-forth across a mid-sized map, collecting items to solve simple puzzles, such as using an oil can on a rusty lever, or a garden trowel to uproot a flower.

The game has a relaxed pace to it and, being honest, is not much of a challenge. Aside from the multiple boss characters, enemies generally present very little threat, so you can pretty much dawdle straight through most of them. If that weren't enough, Belle actually levels up as she progresses through her quest, making her attacks more powerful and her health more durable. Only the aforementioned bosses pose any real problems, but still not much for the hardened gamer.

The nostalgia runs deep in Mystik Belle, with its visuals featuring some great chunky sprites and parallax scrolling, recalling the halcyon days of the Commodore Amiga, backed by a selection of catchy tunes torn straight from the archives of the SiD chip. The game also takes pride in its lighting, with the generally dark school flickering in sparse shafts of light from the environment and Belle herself.

The game certainly suffers from its slow pace, which feels quite dated in the modern-era. Fortunately, there is an option to speed the whole game up by 25%, and it is an option I would heavily advise you take, as the difference in Mystik Belle's general lethargy is night and day.

There is about four to five hours of gameplay waiting for you here, with a hidden finale for 100% completion. I don't see the game having much replay value, however. It feels like a casual, relaxed jaunt for a singular Sunday afternoon. Due to its low difficulty and general narrative simplicity, it's ideal for younger players (though maybe not really little kids), especially given its release proximity to Halloween.

As someone who grew up adoring the Dizzy series, I definitely got a kick out of Mystik Belle's whimsical trip down memory lane. Props should also been given for some lovely colourful sprites, cute characters and nostalgic tunes from yesteryear. But it is certainly a short trip down said lane, and one which will present the majority of gamers with very little resistance.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]


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Mystik Belle reviewed by Chris Moyse

7

GOOD

Solid and definitely has an audience. There could be some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.
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Chris Moyse
Chris MoyseContributor   gamer profile

Chris (Orochileona) has been playing videogames since videogames began.. still terrible at them though. Turn-ons include digital punching, angry luchadoras and rambling nostalgically like Abe Sim... more + disclosures


 



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