Version reviewed: Xbox One
By: Last Dimension
Published by: Wayforward Games
Mystik Belle is the enchanting tale of young freshman Witch-in-training Belle McFae. Poor Belle isn’t having it so good. One night while up late practicing her fire magic she finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time and is wrongly accused of stealing a very important potion. The teachers at the Hagmore School of Magic, refuse to believe our plucky young heroine and she is charged with the impossible task of recreating the missing potion before the night is out or face expulsion from the school. Little does Belle realise the importance of this concoction, but she’s a sassy and determined young madam and she sets off to rectify matters!
The game is brought to us by one-man band Last Dimension and published by the excellent Wayforward games, whose products I personally always enjoy. Mystik Belle presents us with a wonderful fusion of “Metroidvania” style exploration and map progression and item based puzzle solving in the vein of the Dizzy games or traditional point and click adventures. You will run, leap and dash your way through the corridors of the school and surrounding environs, despatching the many and varied foes that infest the place using your fireballs and other spells that you learn along the way. The running and gunning is punctuated by interactions with various other inhabitants of the school who will often help you with advice or items. There are also a good number of boss fights to tackle. All this is presented in a wonderfully colourful retro style.
Mystik Belle is not only retro in style but also in substance. If you’re an old git like me, you’ll love the chunky, colourful graphics, the mode- 7 style graphical effects, and the plinky plonk sounds but you’ll also relate to the way the game plays. I loved the way each screen was populated with random foes just roaming around without any logic applied. It really reminded me of several old 8- bit games such as the aforementioned Dizzy games and also games like Pyjamarama and Everyone’s a Wally. The item based puzzling is also reminiscent of such titles and some of the puzzle solutions really made me smile as they captured the essence of those old games perfectly. Traversing the areas starts off pretty easy but it can begin to get fairly hectic later on. You will find that you won’t be able to avoid all foes and projectiles which sort of grates a bit if you’re a perfectionist but the game does chuck a fair amount of health pickups at you and when you do die here and there it never seems unfair. It’s not an overly difficult game but you will appreciate the double fireballs and other automatic upgrades you get as you level up. The puzzling will cause you to do a certain amount of backtracking. This being an old school type of presentation, you will not have your hand held and you won’t be told where to go next, (aside from the odd clue) and a couple of the puzzles are a little obtuse. Luckily, as you progress, you will find traversing the world gets more pleasant as you learn the double jump ability for example, amongst others.
To summarise then, Mystik Belle is an excellent old school platform puzzler. It’s colourful, and pretty. A lot of effort has been put into the variety of enemies and bosses and they are all well-conceived. I was quite surprised actually considering this game is the work of just one man just how many different enemy characters there are. The soundtrack is also worthy of note. Them dam choonz have been stuck in my head all week!! Whether you like this game or not really depends on how much experience you have of old school sensibilities. Games today tend to hold your hand, tell you where to go next and minimize backtracking etc. Younger gamers don’t always find retro style games very palatable. If, however you do fancy trying such a title, I can’t recommend Mystik Belle enough. In my eyes, it gives you the right blend of those aforementioned old qualities and modern accessibility but at the same time, this has been one of the most successful retro style games yet at invoking those cherished memories of the games of yester-year.
Therefore, I shall be awarding Mystik Belle……
8 broomsticks out of 10.