Mage's Initiation is a fantasy game. It looks like classic graphics and everything, but with a few modern twists. It's one of many games continuing on the trend of 'modern-retro' gaming. It's kind of like how baseball stadiums in the 1990's went from generics rings to new parks that looked old. And just like those stadiums, Mage's Initiation looks old but is missing crucial parts to make it a beloved institution.
You are D'arc. (Get it?!?!) You're 16 and ready to become a mage. But before you do you have to finish three tasks. You go from a bird people level to wooded area level and everything, so overall it's standard fantasy fare. But, as standard as it is, the story still holds up. I wish there was more variance, but I enjoyed it.
The controls are pretty standard. The throwback graphics leads to having limited controls, but it works in its favor. It leads to a greater reaction time when fighting and a more streamlined process. No real complaints.
The graphics of Mage's Initiation is obviously based off of graphics of games from the early mid 90's -- right before 3D -- but animated in a way to look more than two dimensional. I wish it was more. For the limitations it sets on itself it doesn't look bad, but it could have had a little more polish on it. Beautiful forests look stuffy without having depth. They could have had it with the same graphics, but they decided to go for well rendered graphics in key parts rather than giving it that little oomph throughout. Like many games, it went a little too retro, but it was still better than most like it.
During the game you choose one of the four elements to train under (fire, water, etc.), and you do a variety of things. There's some magic, and some fighting, but there's also things like puzzles. So gameplay can go from action to jigsaw puzzles in a few minutes. And I understand you need to vary gameplay, but solving actual puzzles seems like a big departure, especially from this fantasy world we're in. I mean fighting is fighting and it's pretty good (if basic), but I wish there was a better variance more in line.
Music and sound I can get into, but let's just say it's on par with what you'd expect from mid 90's games. The soundtrack and sounds are a bit modernized, but for the most part it's store bought fantasy. It's that generic. Not terrible, but every note and every sound is as you'd expect.
As unique as it is, Mage's Initiation was obviously tested to hell. There are no real glitches, which is an accomplishment considering the technical era the game was based around in that weird 2D/3D setup. The frame rate is also good. If there were any problems, the jumpiness of the era masked it.
Mage's Initiation is a very par fantasy game. It doesn't do anything bad, but the worlds and monsters and everything have been in a lot of games. The story doesn't do anything to harm or boost it up. It's a standard heroes journey, but at the same tie a very well done one. I enjoyed it, but I felt like it could have been a bit more.
Final Score: 8 out of 10
A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of review.