REVIEW: Mystic Mayhem

Yes, the rumors are true. You are indeed an aqua-haired, green-shoe-wearing hipster, out to rescue your fair maiden from the predictably-evil clutches of…someone. It’s not terribly important or emphasized. The essentials are that Mystic Mayhem (80 MSP) is a rather nice-looking 2.5D platformer (think Paper Mario) in which you’re going to jump, climb and shoot projectiles out of your hand (Mega Man-style) over thirty stages.

The traditional platforming staples may apply, though one of the adamant selling points is its touted ability to switch from 3D side-scroller to first-person side-scroller seamlessly. It works as advertised, sure enough, but is neither comfortable to play with or required at any point during the adventure, relegating it to a cheap parlor trick. I’m not sure how well it would’ve worked for puzzle solving or otherwise (it makes traversal a nightmare), but it is an odd thing to focus on and a wasted opportunity / design. Something ventured, nothing gained.

Odd camera views aside, the stages play straightforward. You must first find a key somewhere in the level, then trek to the exit, enemies attacking from land, sea, and air, score and health pickups, a ton of spikes between you and that goal. The game tallies your score, leftover health, and number of deaths at the end of the level, which determines your grade. Relax, it’s purely supplemental. No report cards sent home. Beating a stage unlocks the next regardless.

You’ll find that paths diverge frequently in-level, winding around to hidden score nooks or alternate routes, but your objective, be it key or exit, is always identifiable using the compass at the top of the screen. It can be misleading, taking you to a dead-end or a ladder / passage you can’t reach, but even as a general guideline, the help is appreciated and beats wandering the level on your own.

In keeping with the friendly difficulty and exploration, dying is no big deal in Mystic Mayhem. Meet your end via spikes or by riding a buzzsaw, and you’ll lose next to zero progress. You pop up just a few feet away, usually, and off you go again. The lone downside to this? It is rather easy to die next to a set of spikes, only to have the game continually respawn your character on top of said spikes, leaving you in an endless loop of death, unable to pause or reset the game except through the dashboard. This happened to me twice, two times too many, in my opinion. (EDIT 11/5: A future patch should eliminate this issue.)

And while the variety within each level is good, the levels themselves tip towards repetitive at the end, becoming a slog. There’s only so much ‘find key, find exit’ you can expect from players without changing the mechanics. There’s also some noticeable engine stutters and graphical quirks, though they only impact the gameplay slightly. Ultimately, you’ll be the one to decide if those issues are worth the trade-off in play time (2+ hours) and an extra mode, a survival game that has you piloting an airplane, avoiding hazards and adjusting to sudden gravity changes. It won’t keep you entertained for long stretches, but it is fun for a few plays between campaign breaks. It compliments the package.

Mystic Mayhem starts off as and remains a glitch-heavy platformer with a few nice ideas and a few missteps. It’s a better-playing-than-most, occasionally-generic playthough marred by some frustration, but it does satisfy the criteria you’d expect, with very little intrusive investment (both in money and uncomplicated controls) required.

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4 thoughts on “REVIEW: Mystic Mayhem”

  1. If I didn’t know better I would have thought this first appeared on a Nintendo or Super Nintendo system. Love the throw back feel of it! Actually found myself wanting to see what was next (even though it seemed a lot of the same) Making me want to pull out my old system and play some Super Mario Brothers or Mega Man!

    1. Highly retro, absolutely. 🙂 It’s one of those non-nondescript platformers that doesn’t leave a lasting impression, but it’s harmless fun.

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