Mask of Mists is a dungeon crawler action first person game that has minor RPG & Metroidvania elements. There aren’t classes to choose from in the beginning, but there is a wonderful story that builds up the atmosphere for the game which is ripe for exploring. This particular version I’m reviewing is the new generational port for the Series X|S consoles and I was curious to see what the differences were between the version that released back in September of 2020 and this new edition. Nearly a year after its original release, the new version landed on the marketplace August 25th and is developed by 9 Eyes Game Studio and published by Sometimes You at the same price as the original game.
The premise of the story is that the player is a semi powerful Archmage mercenary and is hired to find another Archmage who went missing. It’s a rare occurrence when such a powerful mage goes missing, so there is a high reward for finding them. The gameplay for this title plays as an open world that unlocks through obtaining better items, such as an enchanted sword and a gun with limited ammo. There are only 3 different enemy types and each aren’t hard to take out knowing that there is a dash ability which scoots the player in the desired direction. A well-timed dash will save your health which can deplete and only be refilled with health potions. There are items that can be gathered such as ingredients for potions or gems to use at the market along with an inventory to see what you are carrying at any given point. The market is actually just a leprechaun hidden in a tree and requires a ruby, the most common gem, before trading other items. There are chests scattered around the map and are filled with scrolls or rubies, bullets, and health potions. There are different types of potions that can be crafted, but only health potions will spawn in chests occasionally. Some of the other potions are required to clear an obstruction or walk-through poisonous gas. The scrolls help provide an idea of where to go or look for certain items. The game requires certain keys to be used or statuettes to be placed on pedestals to advance, and later vines can be cut down using the player’s sword.
The feel for the gameplay plays as a simplistic dungeon crawler with an open map that’s full of puzzles. The goal of each dungeon is to make it to the end which requires the player to solve some simple puzzles such as pressure plate gates, smashing hidden gems in rooms, platforming over toxic sludge, draining rooms, finding a path through invisible mazes, color puzzles with gems, and more to find a navigation stone. The dungeons felt repetitive after a while, but the developers do switch up the types of puzzles you tackle often to fight that feeling.
The three enemy types can work wonders against the player if hit with a magic attack which will slow the player down temporarily. All of the enemies are purple and resemble mushrooms, jellyfish, and blobs in design. All are easy to take out alone, but the jellyfish-like enemies cast magic attacks which can be devastating if a room is filled. As the player advances through the story, they will find stronger weapons to use making combat easier. Mask of Mists is far away from being a hard game by any means. I only healed a few times throughout the game and found all health upgrades which help out. The final boss is similar in design to other enemies, but has an easy pattern to memorize. Mask of Mists is more about exploring to see what can be altered in the environment and using notes to help solve puzzles. The player shouldn’t be getting stuck often as long as they are paying attention to the journal and new areas.
The audio for the game sounded the same to me as the original, but does have an OST. There is a lack of narration as well for the title. The sound effects sound the same as the original and I didn’t see an audio improvement, not that the game needed it really. The default settings have the music turned down quite low and this may be due to the same track repeating for different areas and having a limited variety. Each track fits the bill for the overall aesthetics for the game and the area the player may be in. However short they may be, they do sound appropriate; whimsical adventure, dungeon lurking, mystical. The sound effects and music add to the magical tone the game has with violent creatures and exploration puzzles.
The visuals for Mask of Mists are where it excels, the general look of the game feels childish and occasionally cartoonish whacking enemies with our floating sword. Some of the item designs add to the cartoonish feel with pixelated etchings on some textures. Overall, Mask of Mists has above par graphics in terms of lighting, color, & general design. The game has a wide variety of vivid colors and loves to utilize them with a lively forest the player explores. There has been a general improvement to some of the textures since the original release, but the biggest changes were to the general lighting. This is a welcomed change considering there are no options to adjust brightness in the settings and that made some dark corners of dungeons a nuisance in the previous version.
The Longevity for Mask of Mists is average, it will take a player roughly 5 hours to finish this game solving all the puzzles and exploring every corner of the map. The combat could have been improved with the amount of ammunition you find or buy in the game, but feels bland after clearing numerous dungeons with mainly your sword. The combat is easy and the biggest challenges players will face are solving some of the puzzles. Most of the puzzles require finding a correct pattern to open doors or gates which isn’t too bad and then there was a gem puzzle. This puzzle required thorough exploration, but all the puzzles have the same solution so guides can be found if stuck at any point. There are also two different endings and are accessible with a handy load feature after finishing the game. The game has a save functionality so the player can pick up and put down easily. Achievement hunters will be happy to know that this game and the older version both have simple achievement lists and require only one playthrough to complete.
I would recommend this game to fans of dungeon crawlers or any Metroidvania fan. There isn’t a focus on platforming as with a standard Metroidvania game, but there is on finding new items to explore new areas past locked doors. The story is delivered through a book medium and we can read our story of finding a lost powerful Archmage as a mercenary. The player is given a choice at the end which affects the ending you can get after killing the boss. The boss is simple and not hard to beat which sums up the overall combat for this game as well. The audio for this title is rather simple and loops a limited selection of tracks and the devs intended for it to be turned down low. The graphics is the highlight of the game thanks to the gorgeous look, although simple in some designs, the game feels like a cartoonish role-playing adventure. The puzzles could be challenging in some areas, but overall were simple to solve for the majority.
Mask of Mists is a wonderful first-person adventure title considering the size of the team that made it and is appropriately priced on the marketplace. There is also a trial that can allow 30 minutes of gameplay to experience what it’s like before committing to the purchase. The price for both versions are the same, but I would highly recommend getting the newer X|S version with upgraded visuals, lighting, and faster load times.Become a Patron!
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox Series X/S. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.