There’s a lot to like about Ages of Mages: The Last Keeper. It’s a very simple game to pick up and play, complete with local co-op for up to three other players to join in on the action. It’s also got some deep systems tying it all together, ensuring that repetition is kept at bay. That being said, there’s some drawbacks that greatly pull the game down, but to its credit, Ages of Mages just about manages to get more right than it does wrong. Now, from the top, there’s not much of a story to get stuck into. In fact, it’s relatively bare-bones on that front.
The kingdom in which the game takes place is under attack, and the princess (because, there’s always a princess, right?) has been taken away by the army of nefarious beasts that sit in wait. The kingdom’s future rests in the hands of four distinct mages, which is where you come in. Players can take to the game solo, or with up to three other people. There’s four mages to select, each of which comes with distinct characteristics and independent level-based skill trees. The mages’ classes consist of fire, ice, lightning, and nature.
Ages of Mages does a good job at feeding you into the basics of play, but even without the game’s brief yet informative tutorial, it’s fairly easy to adapt to. Movement is tied to the left stick, with projectile spells tethered to the right stick. Using a combination of both, you’re afforded complete 360 degree movement and attacks. Casting your projectile attacks will deplete your MP, and once this is spent up, you’ll only be able to attack at very close range. Fortunately, you can recharge your MP as many times as you like via holding down RB.
Your health and MP are laid out at the top left of the screen, as well as your level, your level-up gauge, your skills, and your gold. Skills are utilized through the controller’s face buttons once unlocked, and these are independent to each mage. There’s a cool-down for each, and you will indeed need MP to use them, so it pays off to ensure that you use them intelligently. Gold and XP will be dished out as you mow down enemies, respectively allowing you to buy useful wares from the game’s shops such as new wands, and level-up.
The game’s wands have varying effects, all of which is relayed to you whilst you browse the stores. Each time that you level-up, you’ll obtain a point to spend in your skill tree. This is essential for keeping on-par with the game’s difficulty, which believe me, has quite a harsh spike later in. The skills bolster your mage’s capabilities in a wide range of different ways; increased MP, heightened damage output, more health, and so forth. This is also where you’ll unlock your traits, including the use of a short teleport, a phoenix attack, and more.
These will indeed vary based on your chosen class, but for my play-through, I sided with the fire-based mage above all else. Starting out, your mage tends to be quite under-powered and as slow as a snail on a salt track. Though, as you start working through your unlocks, you’ll soon become much more agile and formidable. The game is compiled of heaps of levels, with several levels tied to a fantastical theme of some sort. These levels do tend to be short in length, lasting no longer than a few minutes per-whack, but do pack some variation.
The aim of the game sees you working through each level, typically from one end to the other, defeating the hordes of enemies that will come at you from either end of the screen. These enemies consist of the usual foes that you would expect to see in a game that shares this theme; skeletons, evil wizards, orcs, and so on. They’re quite easy starting out, but several stages in, they do begin to showcase some complexity. Whether it’s life-draining wizards, orc skeletons with shields, or more, there’s always something new to overcome.
Boss battles are much tougher, and there’s plenty of them, further bolstering the already impressive enemy variation. That, by and large, is how your time will be spent in Ages of Mages. You’ll move through its levels, lay waste to anything that stands in your way, obtain new weaponry, unlock and assign skills, and then rinse and repeat until you hit the endgame. Unfortunately, there are some framerate issues to contend with throughout, more so when there’s a lot of action on the screen at any given time. It’s only minor, mind.
That, and the game’s difficulty tends to fluctuate once you get so far in. This is especially notable when playing solo, making for a lot of repeat runs until you get through. With that in mind, Ages of Mages is certainly best played with others. The mages and their capabilities seem perfectly suited side-by-side, with their traits frequently opening up opportunities for other mages to make use of. Despite its few dominant issues, there’s quite a lot of fun to be had here, and a fair bit of replay value to soak up too. That is, if you can forgive its presentation.
Ages of Mages isn’t a very good looking game by today’s standards, nor does it sound particularly nice either. Whilst there’s a nice amount of variation to the game’s environments, they lack detail and polish. It all comes off fairly cheap looking in the grand scheme of things. Equally as such, character and enemy models don’t show any sign of improvements on this front. I can extend the same criticism to the game’s audio, housing little more than bland, generic cues throughout the entirety of play. If you can overlook that, fill your boots.
Ages of Mages is a mixed bag of pros and cons. Though to the game’s credit, it does indeed manage to get more right than it gets wrong. The gameplay remains fun, fluid, and responsive, with just enough depth present across its enemy variation and its skill tree systems to keep it from repetition. The drawback, however, is that it’s bogged down by poor presentation, minor framerate issues, and unbalanced difficulty.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.