Mystik Belle
Gameplay 9
Graphics 9
Sound 8

Mystik Belle features an addictive blend of classic platforming, Metroidvania inspired exploration and a healthy dose of point & click adventure style puzzles. The beautiful pixel art visuals are a definite plus and the charming characters as well as varied locations will keep you hooked. The puzzles and limited inventory might not appeal to players looking for a more traditional Metroidvania style platformer, but Mystik Belle is definitely worth checking out.

Gameplay: Tons of areas to explore, lots of clever puzzles and some huge bosses to defeat.

Graphics: Beautiful pixel art visuals with large, detailed sprites and memorable backgrounds.

Sound: Features a catchy chiptune soundtrack

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Mystik Belle

Developer: Last Dimension | Publisher: Last Dimension | Release Date: 2015 | Genre: Indie / Action / Adventure / RPG | Website: Official Website | Format: Digital Download

Belle Macfae is a freshman student at the Hagmore School of Magic, but ends up having one of those days where nothing goes her way. In an attempt to improve her grades she stays up late practicing fire magic only to be knocked over by a mysterious person. Belle is barely back on her feet before she is hauled in front of a council of witches and accused of sabotaging a very important ancient ritual. Although Belle protests her innocence she is tasked with re-creating the Walpurgisnacht brew or facing immediate expulsion. What follows is an evening filled with exploration and adventures as Belle searches for the ingredients she needs to recreate the brew.

Ever since the release of Symphony of the Night there has been no shortage of Metroidvania inspired titles attempting to recreate the magic, but quite a few fell short. Mystik Belle certainly shares a few traits with the genre, but also infuses its platforming with a healthy dose of classic point & click adventure style puzzles. As Belle explores the various rooms of the school as well as the surrounding areas, she encounters tons of items that can be collected. Some items are vital for completing her quest, while others are complete junk that can be tossed in the garbage. Since Belle has a limited inventory you have to be very careful about what you lug around as you might find yourself on some far flung corner of the map without the item you need to solve a puzzle.

Fortunately, teleportation rooms are found at various locations around the map and not only serves as a means to get around quicker, but also as handy drop-off points for items. Of course, you can only travel between rooms you have already discovered, but they are spaced out evenly to ensure that backtracking is not too big of an issue. I was quite impressed with the puzzles as most of them are very straightforward and logical, but still quite clever. Solving puzzles usually require finding a point on the map that can be interacted with and then “using” your inventory object on it. Don’t worry, hotspots are marked with an exclamation mark when Belle passes them, so you don’t have to scour the screen looking for points of interest. Some puzzles require items to be combined, which Belle does automatically if all the required materials are in her inventory. While the limited inventory space might irk some players it never really bothered me and brought back fond memories of early titles, such as the Dizzy series.

Apart from the more than sixty types of monsters you’ll encounter during your quest there are also a couple of friendly (and not so friendly) faces along the way. Talking to other people will often provide you with valuable clues to help you on your way and also demonstrates the humor in the game. Some of the conversations had me laughing out loud, but the game does contain language that is probably not suited for young players. In addition to solving puzzles Belle also has to defeat the eight bosses standing in her way and learn new powers that will unlock previously inaccessible areas. Everything from double jumping and forward dashing to underwater breathing are up for grabs and absolutely essential in order to explore every nook and cranny of the large map.

Killing enemies earns Belle experience points and leveling up improves not only her health, but also her firepower. Be careful though, as getting killed results in Belle losing all her experience point progress towards her next level. However, her level cap of eight is quite easy to max out and the game even has an “easier” difficulty setting if you struggle with the default challenge. The game also saves automatically when you enter a new room, so no need to go searching for a save spot when you want to stop playing. You need to stay on your guard as enemies respawn when you re-enter a room and some rooms also feature foes that constantly appear from the edges of the screen. Overall though the game isn’t too difficult and veterans of the genre should have no trouble completing it.

Visually the game is an absolute treat thanks to its beautiful and highly detailed pixel art style. The enemies show a lot of imagination and there are quite a few nods to other classic titles to spot in their designs. Belle, as well as the other characters in the game, have quite large sprites which allows for a ton of detail. While even the smallest enemies look good the bosses deserve a special mention thanks to their size and designs. I don’t want to ruin any surprises, but suffice to say that some of the boss battles are very memorable. The final boss in particular reminded me of something that you would expect to find in a Treasure title back in the day. The locations you get to explore are also quite varied, with everything from dark caves and spooky forests to underwater areas and dank dungeons.

The audio is very good and features some catchy chiptune tracks that match the style of the game perfectly. Since you spend the majority of your time navigating tricky platforms the game definitely works best with a controller. Belle can blast enemies from a distance using her wand and also carries a handy broom for whacking enemies who venture too close. I didn’t have any issues with the controls except for the dash move which is activated by double tapping forward. Pulling off this move consistently proved to be a bit of a challenge and hopefully it is something that the developer will address in a future update. I also encountered a couple of other minor issues, but nothing too serious. The developer is very active on the forums for the game and listens to feedback, which is always a plus.

I definitely had a lot of fun with Mystik Belle and found it to be a lighthearted as well as addictive title. It features two different endings and I highly recommend tracking down the eight secret scrolls in order to face the true final boss. Players looking for a “pure” Metroidvania experience might find the puzzle solving aspect of the game a little annoying as it can impede your progress, but personally I thought it added a lot of depth. In total it took me about eight hours to discover everything and complete the final boss, but for the truly dedicated there is a speedrun achievement, which challenges you to do it all in one hour! Mystik Belle is a great title and quite an accomplishment considering it is mostly the work of a single developer.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows XP SP3
  • Processor: Intel Atom 230
  • Memory: 512 MB RAM
  • Graphics: Intel 945 Express
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Hard Drive: 30 MB available space
  • OS: OS X 10.9.5
  • Processor: Intel Core i5
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Hard Drive: 60 MB available space
  • OS: Ubuntu 12.04
  • Processor: Intel Atom 230
  • Memory: 512 MB RAM
  • Graphics: Intel 945 Express
  • Hard Drive: 20 MB available space

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