Out of the blue, we received a review copy of Mystic Melee, having only seen the game on occasion via Early Access and through indie forums. The Serenity Forge title that was developed by Hypothetical Games has got one of those modern old-school looks that are appealing on the surface, but the one time I got to try it out, I wasn't quite sure what to make of it since it hadn't been fully finished. Now that we have the final version, we took the game for a spin to see what it has in store.
Mystic Melee is a platforming wizard game where you essentially use a combination of magic-based abilities and parkour skills to get through every level. The main plot of the game revolves around a wizard academy in space, whose students are devoted to learning the art in hopes of figuring out the secrets of a long forgotten era. At a certain point in time, a king who had unlimited power apparently went mad and decimated a once great kingdom, leaving wreckage in his wake that now makes up the kingdom you see today. You start the game as a wizard in training who sees his master killed by an enemy force who steals energy from the academy. It's up to you to find out what's happening and try to repair the damage done to the kingdom from long ago.
As the story progresses, you'll switch between four primary magic-using characters and traverse each level, eventually leading the plot progression. Each character has their own skills and spells, as well as a few physical attributes like a double jump and sliding to get through everything and defeat the enemies in your path. The controls are pretty basic, in that you'll be able to pick up what's happening pretty quickly on either a controller or keyboard and manage to fight your way through with ease. But as the levels become harder you'll need to learn new tricks to stay a step ahead of your foes.
Every level of Mystic Melee is graded on a number of things like combos, time completed, health remaining, etc. To clear levels, you defeat all of the enemies you see and collect every purple energy cube and diamond gold container to unlock teleport points. Your greatest enemy in the game is the level design, as a lot of what you do relies on double jumping and making your way through tight spaces while half the level is covered in some form of spikes. Somewhere along the way, you'll end up screaming out loud at how ridiculous some of the designs to these levels are, and they never get any easier.
The design of the game is pretty good as the characters, enemies, backgrounds, and elements are all created with a cool 32-bit type of design. It feels like an older game but plays like something made in the past few years, so you get this mesh of everything right with platformers from two different eras. The sound is pretty great, too, with a soundtrack that makes you feel like you're in a race against time to save all of the mystical points from chaos and destruction as they're pillaged for their power.
I had a lot of fun with Mystic Melee, and I kinda wish I had gotten to explore more of it. The primary game is pretty short, and there aren't that many players online to take advantage of the multiplayer aspect. I feel like this is an overlooked gem that we'll all be talking about in a couple years and saying "yeah, this is good, but remember what Mystic Melee did with this?" It's a shame the game is so short and hasn't received proper hype, but it works well as a platformer and is definitely worth checking out.