Mage’s Initiation: Reign of the Elements by Himalaya Studios
So many developers look to recreate that old school point-and-click adventure experience but forget to also bring in the benefits of modern advancements. Mage’s Initiation: Reign of the Elements by Himalaya Studios offers a slightly different adventure game experience that’s a great mixture of old and new design.
Come to the D’arc Side
You play as D’arc, a young mage in training who lives among mages and trainees in the Mage Tower. In order to become a mage, D’arc must complete his initiation quest, which consists of three tasks scattered across the land. First, he must retrieve a lock of hair from a powerful enchantress, then the unspoiled shell of a griffon egg, and lastly the three-pronged horn of the illusive Trinicorn.
The narrative set-up isn’t necessarily different from what’s been done before, but it offers just enough intrigue and fun situations to hold your attention throughout your journey.
This game is structured like a nonlinear point-and-click adventure game. You’re free to explore and figure things out on your own. You pick up objects and use them to help you progress through the game.
You talk to many NPCs who not only help by offering you hints and clues but – through dialogue options – help develop the world this game takes place in.
The game even has a handful of multiple-choice scenarios which shape how certain events shape out, which in turn affect the game’s overarching narrative.
A Mage’s Guide to Self-Initiation
The game doesn’t do a lot of hand-holding, which makes it feel more like a quest instead of a linear guided affair. The game strikes a nice balance of giving you hints within the context of the world.
For example, instead of showing an on-screen prompt of what to do next, the game has more clever ways of helping. Early on, you can ask your friend at the Mage Tower for hints. It’s smart game design, which makes puzzle-solving and progression feel more rewarding. Elements like these make the game feel like an early, narratively deep PC point-and-click adventure game.
But thankfully this game isn’t as punishing as some old school adventure games. You can die in this game, but it has a very generous auto-save system in place. The puzzles in Mage’s Initiation are relatively easy and are not obtusely complex affairs. This, in particular, helps give the game a more expedient pace.
Game Elements and Magical Elements
The game does a fantastic job of melding modern game mechanics in with the old familiar ones. Alongside familiar adventure game mechanics, Mage’s Initiation also has RPG elements.
There are four different specializations you are given at the start of the game, dictating your character’s elemental speciality. This dictates what attacks you learn throughout the game. If you’ve chosen to be a fire mage, you will implement fire-based attacks; the same goes for water, air and earth specializations.
You can level up your character by completing side quests offered by NPCs or by progressing the narrative. You can upgrade stats like Intelligence, Strength and Magic, which offer boosts to health or damage output. You can also find gems you can equip to raise attributes or up your armor stat.
These RPG mechanics make the game feel a little more dynamic, allowing you to shape your character as you see fit, but don’t expect complex character customization involving things like skill trees.
Rage-Inducing, Mage-Abusing Fights
This game has a solid but awkward combat system. When an enemy appears the game will enter a combat mode, allowing you to defensively run around and shoot projectiles.
I did feel like there was a distinct lack of more defensive options, meaning a lot of the combat will just boil down to running around and using abilities. I found the combat to be okay for the most part, but it felt a little too unwieldy.
Also, the perspective made it harder to judge where to shoot projectiles. Since you don’t have melee attacks, it always felt awkward when an enemy was right next to me; awkwardly shooting fireballs at an enemy right in front of me felt off.
On top of that, the game uses your stats to determine how often your projectiles will hit the enemy. This dice-rolling, on top of the other issues, made the combat feel unsatisfying and even a bit frustrating at times.
An Old School Mage School
The classic design isn’t limited to gameplay structure but also bleeds into the game’s visuals. It has an old school look to it, and at first glance, I even thought this was a re-release of an old adventure game.
The music and sound effects are crisp and feel modern, though. Fantastic use of modern synths and wonderfully orchestrated tracks set the mood perfectly, whether I was in a spooky forest or in tall mountains. Also, all of the game’s dialogue is voiced, which is not only impressive but goes a long way to making the world feel more immersive.
Mage’s Initiation: Reign of the Elements blends old school design with new school sensibilities, creating a game that was hard for me to put down. I had a great time playing it; it was equally nostalgic and fun.
Its puzzles are not too difficult, and its combat could’ve used a little more polish, but the game’s writing alongside its fantastic presentation makes up for it.
Mage’s Initiation: Reign of the Elements is available via Steam.
Watch the official trailer for Mage’s Initiation: Reign of the Elements below: