Published on October 1st, 2014 | by Zackery Cuevas1
Mage Gauntlet Review
I play a lot of games, and sometimes I get a bit jaded. So when I stumble upon a game that is equal parts challenging and charming, with a price tag that screams value, well, this jaded gamer gets a bit giddy. Mage Gauntlet is an excellent fast-paced action RPG from the same people behind the memorable Wayward Souls. So excellent, in fact, it would even be my own personal game of the year, if it hadn’t been available to our iOS brethren about three years prior.
The game stars Lexi, a cute, plucky young woman born into a world of magic, yet somehow unable to use magic herself. She sets out on a journey to find a cure for condition, eventually finding the fabled wizard, Whitebeard, once savior of the world. From here, Lexi is gifted the Mage Gauntlet, an ancient artifact of mysterious origin. The plot is ripe with classic fantasy tropes, but the dialogue and characters are often humorous and add color to its world.
And speaking of color, Mage Gauntlet is particularly gorgeous. Its 2D-pixel art style and an amazing soundtrack feel like a loving callback to the 16-bit era. Environments are varied and destructible, and monster designs range from silly to fierce, and look great on both tablet and phone.
Fans of Noodlecake studio’s recent hit, Wayward Souls, will feel right at home here. Wayward Souls borrowed many elements from Mage Gauntlet, from sound effects and art to controls, but despite this, the games are drastically different. Mage Gauntlet takes it influence from games like The Legend of Zelda and other action RPGs like Secret of Mana. It’s more adventure-centric than Wayward Souls rougelike dungeon crawling. It’s also more forgiving, allowing the player to restart a section of a level three times before getting a true game over, a far cry from Wayward Souls “you die and lose everything” mentality.
The action always remains silky smooth, even with a screen full of monsters, and controlling Lexi is a cinch. You’ll never have to worry about spotty touch controls being your downfall. But despite the rock-solid combat, Mage Gauntlet lacks many staples that you would expect from an action RPG. There are no item shops, side quest, towns, or even an overworld. Those elements seem to have been removed to streamline the experience, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing for those who don’t have a lot of time to invest, but some action RPGs fans might be left disappointed. Those complaints aside, the gameplay is rewarding and satisfying, even if it’s a bit shallow and repetitive.
It’s impressive to consider just how much content Noodlecake fit into this $2.99 package. The game boasts a lengthy main quest along with an end game ‘master mode’ and hordes unlockables, including 110 different hats (they sure do know their audience.) There are IAPs as well, but they’re neither expensive nor intrusive, and you can enjoy the game in its entirety without a purchase.
Whenever I lose faith in mobile gaming, there always seems to be a game like Mage Gauntlet that reignites my hope for the platform. It works as both a love letter to the games we all grew up with, while offering a new experience entirely. It may be too action-centric for some, but I love it, and I can’t believe it took so long for this gem to receive an Android port
Summary: Mage Gauntlet is a fantastic game. It offers loads of content, awesome 2D graphics, catchy music and a lengthy quest all for just $2.99, though action RPG fans may be left craving more.