Mages and Treasures review for PlayStation, Xbox, PC, Nintendo Switch

Platform: PS5
Also on: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Developer: lightUP
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

While I wouldn?t say that lightUP is a developer that immediately springs to mind when I think of my favourite game creators, to date they?ve managed to put together a decent track record. None of their games would ever be described as hugely original, mind you, but nonetheless, their games tend to be pretty fun.

Or, at least, that was the case up until Mages and Treasures.

Just about the only thing Mages and Treasures has in common with lightUP?s other games is that it?s heavily indebted to the past. Like Milo?s Quest a few years ago, it borrows heavily from old 8- and 16-bit top-down RPGs, with treasures and enemies alike scattered all over the place.

Unlike Milo?s Quest ? and unlike any game from the genre worth playing ? Mages and Treasures is unbalanced to a ridiculous degree. The titular mage starts off the game with the tiniest health bar imaginable, and is so weak that all it takes to kill him is being nudged twice by an otherwise harmless bouncing blue ball. It doesn?t take too long to unlock a weapon ? a wind spell ? but you quickly discover that, too, is pretty useless, since it consumes your trace amounts of mana points awfully quickly. While this doesn?t matter much against the blue balls, it does mean you?re basically helpless as soon as you reach the first enemies that fight back, spiders who can fire off their webs at you seemingly without needing to reload, and who can fire in pretty much any direction ? in contrast to your mage, who needs to be facing directly towards the enemy you?re casting a spell on. This means you die pretty frequently, and you regularly lose a huge chunk of whatever treasures you?ve managed to gather.

Bizarrely, while the combat is so over-the-top hard, the puzzles that are to be found here are pretty basic, and consist entirely of pushing blocks on top of switches. These puzzles aren?t that interesting to begin with, and they don?t get more interesting the more you do them.

This being a Ratalaika-published game, normally at the very least you?d be able to say that the game?s one redeeming feature is that it has an easy Platinum ? and while that?s sort of true, since the Platinum pops after you defeat the second boss, it also means sticking with the game through the frustrating, unbalanced early stages, and it?s just not worth that.

In fact, it?s not worth anything. Mages and Treasures may come from a developer with a decent track record, but this is proof that even developers who know what they?re doing have a misfire once in awhile.

Ratalaika Games provided us with a Mages and Treasures PS4/5 code for review purposes.

Grade: D+