Review | The Mageseeker: A League of Legends Story
Cursing the Mageseekers
As two-thousand and twenty-three marches on, hordes of games vying for my attention, little did I think the game that would be eating up my time in doves would be a League of Legends spin-off. The phenomenal work of Digital Sun, makers of the super good Moonlighter under the guidance of Riot Forge to bring everyone’s favourite e-boy—Sylas—to life had caught me off guard. I’m no stranger to popular properties getting console spin-offs (Neopets, Maplestory, etc) and perhaps it’s my lukewarm reception to those games that left me eating up The Mageseeker: A League of Legends Story like an all-you-can-eat buffet.
“So, who wants to kill the king?”
The Mageseeker tells the story of the aforementioned Sylas, a mage prisoner that breaks free and escapes from the confines of the Demacia kingdom that views all magic-wielding ‘mages’ as scum of the earth and to be imprisoned, eradicated, what have you. He joins up with a local rebellion to free mages across the land from their prisons. But more importantly, he seeks revenge against the Mageseekers, a division of mage-hunting soldiers that he was once a part of. Players will control Sylas as he roams level to level in search of what can be useful to their cause—all the while zipping about and shredding those who stand in his way.
Sylas is a vengeance driven character and that is on full display with his arsenal of weapons. His chains swing wide and hit hard against mooks of all kind. He can steal magic from others and send it right back to them or their friends. Foes keeping their distance from you is meaningless because you can hook right onto them from far away and combo them into large area-of-effect attacks. How Sylas controls and all the tools he gives the player to clear out rooms with enemies quick on their feet never got old in my playthrough of the game.
Speaking of the enemies, they come in varied numbers and mechanics. Some are magic users, ready to fire one of the six elemental magics they’re familiar with. They’ll try to keep their distance from you and support the close-range fighters that range from simply trying to prod you with spears to clouding up the screen with large attacks of their own. Some baddies will silence you, preventing you from using magic at crucial times. Some are huge and require distance of your own to tackle. And then there are environmental hazards that make the Sylas-man army just a bit more difficult to keep at.
Combining all this together nets you a fast-paced action game that’s really hard to stay away from. It’s just so much fun to play and as you get stronger, the slamming of your chains and explosive magics just feel so good against the game’s lush pixel art visuals. My only complaint is that it does take too long to get to that strength level, and death can come easily to those that stand around for more than a second. But if difficulty becomes a problem, the game offers customiseable difficulty options you can change at any time. I like this as an accessibility option (even if it feels more like a crutch for balanced game design) but I felt that the game was balanced on its normal difficulty anyway.
Embrace the Chaos
In-between fights are plenty of story to go around. Don’t be too skip-happy now, because The Mageseeker is very much a story-driven game. Whether it’s the primary and secondary missions, talking to the allies at your rebellion’s camp (and upgrading Sylas’ stats ‘n whatnot), or reading the many lore pieces scattered about the world—you’re going to be learning quite a bit about Demacia and its discrimination against the magic-inate.
The Mageseeker tells its story well-enough I feel, although it does have the problem of attempting to establish a fairly large universe to a new audience. League of Legends, the popular multiplayer online battle arena everyone’s tried once (and many have run from) is a world quite vast and you can tell from its large cast of playable characters. Sylas’ story ultimately falls into a tiny part of the game world’s lore, which I suppose made it all feel a bit insignificant in the grand scheme of things. But the story establishes the characters, old and game original, to a decent enough point that it didn’t bother me.
Another thing to note is the whole familiarity thing. Do you remember that Neopets game I mentioned earlier on? It was a browser game where players collected Neopets, took care of them, traded them, and all that other stuff. Neopets would eventually get a PlayStation 2 exclusive game called Neopets: The Darkest Faerie. It was a Zelda clone and (not a very good one at that, but that’s not the point) I liked it well enough, but part of that was likely because I was familiar with the original source material. I knew what Neopets was and seeing the cool little monsters in a world beyond the JPEG-lands was good enough.
That’s how I feel about The Mageseekers. You’ll likely have far more attachment to the game world if you’re at least somewhat familiar with what League of Legends is. Ergo seeing the likes of Garen, Lux, or Sylas do anything other than inting your lane is better when you know what all that is already. I think we’ll see this more as other PC or mobile-centric games make their way into uncharted waters: the console space. But until then, know that this game’s story, at worst, never gets in your way long enough to be an annoyance if you simply just want to beat things up.
No More Cages. Please.
Story aside, the other ways The Mageseekers keeps its gameplay fresh is by keeping its story missions short enough, offering an interesting rogue-like perk system for side missions, and the enemy variety (and cool boss fights) against levels that very much want you dead. Base management is tasked to Sylas but never feels like a weighted chain around his throat. It’s easy to manage and fun to watch as it grows with each passing mission completion. The lack of voice acting is a shame however, even if it doesn’t affect the game’s replayability for me.
It’s the simplicity of the game that makes it so much fun to play—it’s just done so well. The gorgeous visuals, solid score, and strong gameplay system make The Mageseekers: A League of Legends Story so easy to recommend to anyone. This game is way too good to pass up on.
The Mageseeker: A League of Legends Story
Xbox Series X
- Gorgeous visuals and pleasant original score.
- Strong gameplay that allows players to take challenges in multiple ways.
- Level design and pacing keep the action going without things becoming monotonous.
- It takes too long to get Sylas' strength to where it should be.
- No voice acting kinda stinks.