Now you’ve really done it! Whilst cleaning the Grand Wizard’s stock of extremely irreplaceable spells, an accidental misspelling has whisked his entire set of prestidigitatory paraphernalia into four different dimensions. He’s miffed, the spells are lost, and you are in big trouble.
The way to get all the magical kit back is by personally trekking through four different gods’ domains and picking up the spells, scrolls and potions you inadvertently conjured there. The Wizard will keep a telepathic eye on you and allow you to use any magic recovered to defend yourself. He will also resurrect you twice (twice, not once, or three times, but twice) if your unfortunate, and in his eyes, stupid enough to get killed.
Mystical is wonderfully French. The characters are straight from the Asterix school of animation. With funny, waddly walks, bags of humourous effects and on-screen speech blurbs. The style is fresh, consistent and very original. And it is only after this has been taken in that it becomes obvious that Mystical is, plot hyperbole aside, a walking shoot-em-up.
Wander up screen, dodging incoming enemies, your aim is to collect all the potions and scrolls that litter the way. These are reclaimed for the Wizard by wandering over them. These can then either be cast immediately or stored. The spells vary in potency and power, but all help to see off the hordes of bad guys who meander down towards you.
Big Mac, Fries to go?
There’s only a small amount of energy per life – which can be restored by eating the hamburgers (!) which are also found en route – and it’s diminished by touching an enemy or being hit by missiles. The apprentice has to be kept moving because the enemies actively hunt him down, so you have to control the would-be magician in a suitable unpredictable way.
The game can be played solo by the Wizard’s apprentice or with two simultaneous players. The second player takes on the role of a Golem, who doesn’t have the ability to cast spells, preferring to jump on enemies to kill them. The Golem role is far less flexible than the apprentice and is definitely the short straw gamewise.
The flexible magic system and the cartoon characters make for a strong game concept, but it’s too fiddly. The choice between storing and casting a spell has to be made the second it is retrieved, which forces some heavy space bar tapping – to store the spell – exactly when you want it to be dodging.
It is original, but not massively strong. The animations are amusing, but the game really belongs in the shoot-em-up genre, but it is not fast enough to be thrilling. The stoed spells are awkward to use under pressure and detract rather than adding to the gameplay. It is fun, but proves too much hard work to be really enjoyable.