These days it seems there are constantly new Metroid-like games. Many of which take Nintendo’s tried and true formula and then alter it with their own characters and setting. Many of them have been quite good. Another one you can put on that list is today’s game Mystik Belle. This game does something that really stands out by including elements of point and click adventure games in it.
PROS: Bright characters. Clever writing. Spot on controls.
CONS: A couple of obtuse puzzles.
ULTIONUS: Has a few nods to their previous game Ultionus: A Tale Of Petty Revenge
Mystik Belle tells the story of a little girl at a witching school who is blamed by the faculty when a mysterious witches brew goes missing. In order to keep herself from being expelled she reluctantly agrees to go find all of the ingredients so her teacher Ms. Willow can make another brew to replace it. She quickly gets more than she bargained for though when she finds out just how much she has to go through just to find a single ingredient.
Her pain becomes your pain, because Mystik Belle is tough. You’ll be exploring a fairly large map, fighting monsters and looking for items so that you can explore even further in areas previously inaccessible to you. Mystik Belle is also very much a point and click adventure game. Though it doesn’t give you the countless hours to search around every item of every background because there is danger at every turn. Especially when you’re just starting out.
You’re berated by the top three witches who run the school, you get barked at by an old monster, you’re given a hall pass and told to move your ass. Right from the beginning though you will love the writing. It’s cute demeanor may make you think it’s a family-friendly kids’ game. But it isn’t. The main character is rather sassy and the characters you run into sometimes drop some less than child-friendly dialogue. Make no mistake, it isn’t crass for the sake of being crass. You won’t be hearing a constant barrage of cuss words this side of a hard R action film. But when it does drop a swear you probably don’t want to have your four-year old around.
That said, the writing here is still very good. The characters have great personalities and charm about them. In many ways it feels like the best parts of the old Brat Pack teen comedy movies of the 1980s. It’s like if sword and sorcery movies were sent to the Breakfast Club detention hall. Would you like another? Yes! They’ve got you for two months.
Anyway, you’ll also be wowed by the bright, large, colorful sprites and multilayered backgrounds. Just like Ultionus, this one has a look very reminiscent of vintage Commodore Amiga games, though there aren’t the constant nods to it this time out. The level of details especially jumps out to me in this game. This is apparent in some of the animations of enemies as well as some of the powers you gain throughout the game.
The soundtrack is also something special. Each area has its own distinct theme that not only fits the mood of what you’re seeing but also throws nods to older games. One of the tracks in particular took me back to Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse. The chip tunes here are very good and I hope it’s one of the soundtracks that ends up on the Steam soundtrack store. Certainly something you’ll likely enjoy.
As you go through your quest to find the ingredients to the brew, the point and click elements begin to become very apparent. Because you’ll need to find that split second to check backgrounds when you see an exclamation point, and you’re going to need to talk to EVERY NPC you run into. This is the only way you’ll be able to find some of the items you need to progress. Sometimes you’ll have to travel between areas not only to find an item in the wild, but to talk to one person to figure out where the next person you need to talk to is. Other times they’ll give you cryptic hints as to where something might be. Other times you’ll see something you know you need, but will have no idea on how to get there or what you’ll need to access it. And of course, there will be times you need to combine several items to create another item in order to gain access to a new area or to give someone to get something else you need. So think like Metroid meets Maniac Mansion. Two things that don’t sound like they belong together, and yet Mystik Bell makes it work very, very well.
The entire experience controls excellently too. When you die, you’ll know it was your own fault. Interestingly there are no save stations, or save options in the menu. If you die it will let you start in the room you died in with the health you entered the room with. Or you can spawn back at the beginning of the game with your items in tow. Mystik Belle can be tough at times but the toughest part in the game are some of the obtuse puzzles that will take you forever to solve. It isn’t always noticeable where you need to scour for an item, and it isn’t always obvious where you need to place something or who you need to give it to. That’s probably the only major complaint I can levy, is that there are a couple of times where the game could be just a little bit more specific.
Despite that, it’s an excellent, quaint game that really stands out from the pack. It isn’t often a fast paced style of game melds with another slower paced genre the way it does here. But it does so very, very well. On top of that there are two endings depending on whether or not you find every last item and collectible in the game. If you’ve truly been looking for something different give Mystik Belle a shot.
Final Score: 8 out of 10