Imagine if He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, complete with its look, style, and action scenes, was turned into a game, but instead of conquering everyone including Skeletor, you die to a bunch of randos and go back to the very first episode to do it all over again, only this time, you’re stronger and ready? That’s basically MythForce to a tee!
MythForce is a first-person action roguelite and is Beamdog’s first originally developed title. Published by Aspyr Media, the game looks to combine old and new school, mixing the 80s-ish Saturday Morning Cartoon feel with the latest technology in game development as well as the roguelite formula which is slowly becoming one of the most popular subgenres today.
One of the main hooks of this game is its 80s Saturday Cartoon-style visuals, and they got the aesthetics perfectly. The main characters look like they could do a guest appearance on He-Man with how amazing they look. Victoria, in particular, is my favorite in terms of looks. Her outfit kind of resembles a mix between a knight and a valkyrie.
The enemies, surroundings, and everything in between were also excellently drawn. I know some are just skeletons, but the coloring and the design are so distinct that it just matches so well with the 80s theme, and even the smallest of details like explosions look like something out of the old cartoon. The visuals of this game really blew me away.
Beyond the Intro
Before we talk about the music and sounds of this game, let me just say that MythForce’s intro song is such a banger. It was so good that I can’t get it out of my head right now!
That being said, the in-game music does not mesh well with the 80s cartoony vibe the game is after. I was expecting some synthwave-type music similar to the intro to keep up with the theme, but what we got is background music that, for the record, is not bad at all, but I feel is out of place.
The sound effect, on the other hand, are great! I love how each character has different dialogues on certain events in the game and even when they cast spells. It gives them personality and makes the game livelier. All the other miscellaneous sound effects like explosions, enemy grunts, etc. are also excellent.
For a game with an 80s cartoonish theme, I’m surprised that the combat system in this game does not resemble that one bit. In fact, they went with a more realistic approach to it. Yes, you fight skeletons, monsters, etc., the dungeons have fire-breathing walls and exploding plants, and your characters can teleport and stuff, but when I said the combat is realistic, I’m referring to how it is more methodical and less flashy. I was hoping it’d be the latter, but it’s more of the former.
Also, there’s no other way to say it, but the basic combat feels slow at specific points. I get it that it’s more strategic, but the stamina drains way too fast and once it does, you’re a sitting duck. The cast animations feel clunky at times as well, and I think a slight increase in speed will help this game a lot.
That being said, once I got used to the combat, the game felt so much better. You jump when pressing the space bar while moving forward or standing still, then you dodge when pressing the space bar while moving sideways or backward. It may sound awkward on paper, but it works flawlessly in the game.
You are not alone, and you shouldn’t be
The balance of each of the protagonists is fantastic! Each has its own strengths as well as glaring weaknesses. For example, Rico (the Rogue), my favorite character early on, has good damage and defense and has the best mobility among the protagonists, but his problem is that while he has good damage, his AoE attacks are pretty limited. Maggie (the mage) on the other hand has tremendous AoE spells that cause a great deal of damage and/or crowd control, but aside from her Snap spell which has a long cooldown, she has little to no mobility which means once she’s surrounded, there’s nothing she could do but fight her way out, eating damage in the process.
This leads me to believe that the game encourages you to play online co-op, either with friends or other people, in order to cover your character’s weaknesses. All of a sudden, you’re able to cast spells freely without worrying about enemy minions rushing you because you have a friend who used Victoria that will protect you.
Here Comes the Pain
Daedalus’ forces are tough, but I didn’t realize they are THAT tough. Okay, they’re not, but with a first-person view, you either have to move around to maintain a safe distance against the minions but risk getting surrounded and possibly hit from behind while also draining your stamina from all the running, or corner yourself to avoid sneak attacks but lose the ability to dodge.
I like that these strategies are important, but they can be pretty daunting at times, especially when this is happening already on the first level alone. In fact, in my first-hour playthrough, I didn’t even get past the first floor and was barely able to do so after 2 hours of gameplay. It’s due to the combination of me being bad, me still getting used to the game, and the game itself being incredibly hard.
Part of what makes the game difficult is due to the aforementioned strategy, and the other is due to the lack of survivability options. Whether you’re lucky enough to get a lot of healing potions or RNG is just not at your side wouldn’t matter, because you only have one slot for healing potions which is fine, but the problem is you cannot keep different kinds of healing potions. Either you pick up the medium potion or the small potion, and you can’t even stack potions of the same kind! Once you used one, you’re likely too far to pick the other up, and I don’t think there are other means of healing health other than the health potions, and some equipment that gives you health regen but is mostly negligible.
I see a lot of potential with MythForce. Sure, the combat and music could use some work, but it’s not like they’re completely busted. They just need a little tweak and it’ll be great. Visually though, this is one of the best games I’ve ever seen, and I’m looking forward to what improvements Beamdog will do during its Early Access phase.
MythForce (Early Access)
The 80s are back!
+ Incredible visuals
+ Well-balanced characters and classes
+ Challenging solo runs, fun co-op runs
+ Well-designed dungeons
– Combat feels clunky at times
– Loot balance needs tweaks