When you think of League of Legends, two things come to mind. The first is Arcane, the hit Netflix show that probably inspired everyone to play the game. The second is the game, a fun MOBA that tests one’s mental fortitude and also the best reminder to “Just stick to the show, stop feeding in my lane, reported.” Nevertheless, Riot Games has made inroads with other titles, including indies, via the Riot Forge label. The Mageseeker: A League of Legends Story is one such title developed by Digital Sun of Moonlighter fame.
Unlike Airship Syndicate’s Ruined King, The Mageseeker is a top-down, hack-and-slash title with gorgeous pixel art. You control Sylas, a former Demacian Mageseeker turned prisoner who seeks vengeance against Eldred, the leader of the Mageseekers. Demacia is like any lawful kingdom, imprisoning mages for the people’s safety because they know better, don’t even question it. Of course, it’s not above using mages against their own, as it did with Sylas, among other dastardly things.
"The writing won’t immediately hook you, but it does a good job of endearing you to Sylas, his allies and the world, where discrimination and oppression are commonplace."
However, thanks to a lucky break, Sylas can freely pursue his revenge. It’s easier said than done since he can’t escape from the city on his own (and the king’s death, which is blamed on Sylas, doesn’t help). Fortunately, after meeting up with Leilani and joining a ragtag rebellion hiding in the woods, he slowly builds up his strength and their resources to take out Eldred.
On the surface, Sylas comes across as brash, arrogant and somewhat sadistic, attributed to the years and years of wrongful imprisonment. However, there are other well-presented shades – regret for how he escaped; the deep yearning for vengeance, even if it conflicts with Leilani’s dream of freedom for mages (which he does see some appeal to); and a loquacious demeanor hiding more than enough trauma for the past.
The writing won’t immediately hook you, but it does a good job of endearing you to Sylas, his allies and the world, where discrimination and oppression are commonplace. Various notes and documents, ranging from encounters with the mysterious Veiled Lady to propaganda perpetuated by Demacia, further contextualize the setting and add some much-needed nuance. Whether Sylas’s rampages affect the immediate population or not, the world feels alive.
However, The Mageseeker is primarily about combat and magic, and you’ll do plenty of both. Sylas is armed with two chains, the same used to contain him, and can execute Light and Heavy attacks. The former is short-range and deals less damage but quicker, while the latter deals more damage and has greater range but is slower. He can also grapple foes, execute quick follow-up attacks, and copy magic from a human or magical creature.
"It’s fun to grapple to an enemy crowd and execute a quick elemental melee combo, then grapple to another and drain their magic, only to dash away and use it to exploit an elemental weakness or two."
Copying magic provides a one-use spell that doesn’t cost mana. Each spell falls under one of six elements – Fire, Ice, Air, Nature, Storm and Mystic – with each opposed to the other. So Fire-wielding enemies are weak to Ice, and vice versa. Many situations demand you exploit an enemy’s elemental weakness to overcome them. It starts easy enough – some fights have Fire and Ice Mageseekers, so you counter both effectively.
However, further encounters become trickier, especially when dealing with enemies that can shift their elemental states. There’s also an internal cooldown on copying spells, so you can’t just spam copy the same magic from some hapless fool.
On top of this, Sylas can also craft copied spells, allowing you to equip them permanently. They consume mana, which is restored by dealing melee damage but allows for countering more elements. You’ll encounter altars in the middle of missions that let you switch out spells depending on the situation (and there will be plenty that demand it).
Combat is pretty responsive, though the controls can get a bit clunky. It’s fun to grapple to an enemy crowd and execute a quick elemental melee combo, then grapple to another and drain their magic, only to dash away and use it to exploit an elemental weakness or two. However, grappling, chaining and aiming certain spells requires aiming with the right analog stick.
"Not to spoil anything, but each story boss is unique, challenging you to platform around and avoid damage while siphoning magic and exploiting weaknesses as best as possible."
It can get hectic deciding who to grapple with or who to copy when dealing with several enemies. Enemies crossing each other’s paths often also doesn’t help when you’re aiming. Couple this with some that are immune to hit-stuns, and you have to throw in well-timed dashes – but don’t dash through them, since that doesn’t work – to avoid big damage.
It’s a deceptively intricate system that shines when there is a healthy number of different enemies – not too many, not too little, and please keep the giant thunder creature away. Some encounters may need some tuning, while some heavier units get a slight damage output reduction. But it’s still fun to engage with and figure out how to clear most combat encounters, especially the boss fights.
Not to spoil anything, but each story boss is unique, challenging you to platform around and avoid damage while siphoning magic and exploiting weaknesses as best as possible. There are some difficulty spikes, though, especially when facing lingering AoE damage and slow effects. Retrying seems a given as you master a boss’s pattern, which can be frustrating but also rewarding when it all clicks.
While Sylas can upgrade his damage, health and mana, in addition to unlocking stronger spells, he can also recruit followers. They’ll accompany him and add some neat elemental abilities to his regular attacks, like a Flame Wave on grappling or a melee combo that leaves an area of Ice to slow and deal damage over time.
"The main missions are more intricate, offering some light platforming and exploration with the combat. Some points require venturing off the beaten path to discover resources and rescue Silverwings."
Finding more recruits for your followers unlocks perks for them, leading to more elemental damage and other bonuses. On top of incentivizing the use of certain followers, this system encourages exploration to find more allies. You could also send followers out on missions to recruit more allies and gather supplies, with the caveat being their unavailability in your next mission.
There are also optional side missions, which provide opportunities for more recruits and materials for upgrades. These offer familiar environments, like the Mageseeker labs, and familiar bosses (though one had new attacks and required a completely different strategy). As a result, the side missions can feel repetitive. You do get some “unstable” spells, akin to your currently unlocked magic but with unique perks to provide an advantage. These aren’t available outside of the specific side mission, and while a nice boost to some stats, they don’t significantly change up your play style.
The main missions are more intricate, offering some light platforming and exploration with the combat. Some points require venturing off the beaten path to discover resources and rescue Silverwings. It’s nothing too head-scratching but keeps the pace tight and the focus on the combat.
"Overall, it’s an enjoyable experience that eases players into an expansive world with a nuanced protagonist and some interesting, albeit awkward at times, combat."
The Mageseeker isn’t a long game – you could probably finish it in about eight to nine hours when concentrating on the story. The side content is there but serves as a way to obtain additional resources and more allies instead of telling many nuanced side stories. Still, for those who can’t get enough of the combat and want to flex their magical prowess, they’re a decent pastime.
Overall, it’s an enjoyable experience that eases players into an expansive world with a nuanced protagonist and some interesting, albeit awkward at times, combat. Nothing more, and nothing less. Whether the next League of Legends Story game aspires higher or goes in a completely different direction, The Mageseeker is a strong addition to the Riot Games catalogue.
This game was reviewed on PC.
Pixel art looks good with solid animations. Responsive controls and compelling combat, especially as you mix and match elements to exploit weaknesses. Unique and challenging boss fights. Story and world-building are well done and backed by a strong supporting cast.
Side missions feel a bit too samey and repetitive. Control set-up can feel awkward at times, especially when aiming. Some difficulty spikes. Not very long, especially when sticking to the story.
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