Tag Archives: Point And Click

Mystik Belle Review

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

Interstellaria Review

Every so often a game tries to wear multiple hats at once. In a giant stack. Trying to merge many different genres together. Sometimes this works very well. Sometimes it doesn’t. Or sometimes it works, but not as well as you might like it to.


PROS: Engaging, deep game play. Challenge. Humor.

CONS: clichéd storyline. Poor explanations of inputs, and rules to the player.

STAR TREK: There are a lot of parallels to the franchise here. Fans may want to jump in.

Interstellaria has a lot of genre elements in it. Point & Click adventuring. Strategy gaming. Space simulation. It takes all of these elements, and attempts to make a really delicious video game stew with them. At face value, it comes off as a rousing success. In practice, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. Interstellaria starts with a short series of cinema screens that move the basic plot around. It’s years after a world war, corporations have taken over, and mankind heads to the stars. Where the threat of interplanetary war looms.

You start out as a randomized character, in a building. Your roommate kicks you out of your apartment, and you have to go looking for a job. the hunt takes you to a job on a freighter, where your space adventures begin. From here the game takes on elements from very early home computer space sims, and bits of FTL’s ship building. The ships allow you to place weapons, sleep chambers, warp core engines, tactical computers, and navigational computers around them. You can assign a role to each member of your crew. Captain, Engineer, you name it. You can also rename any of your playable characters. You can give them friends’ or relatives’ names. You can stick with the zany names the game generates. It’s entirely up to you.

The game has a lot of things to keep an eye on. You have to make sure you have enough crew members for each important role. Someone to pilot the ship. Someone for weapons. Someone for engineering. Think of this as an unofficial Star Trek game, and you’ll start to see the potential. Like the show, Interstellaria has you exploring the cosmos looking for new worlds to explore. When you discover a world upon landing (or crashing) on it, you can move your characters about searching for resources to bring with you. You can meet new characters, recruit them, and build your crew. The game will have you spending hours doing this. Discovering planets, life, and giving you a lot to do.

You’ll also have a number of encounters in space. Sometimes a hostile race will come along to destroy your ship. Other times you can hail them, and attempt diplomacy. The game has a lot of amusing dialogue trees during these moments as they lampoon a number of its sci-fi influences. Throughout the game you can also find items to enhance the statistics of your crew members. Some may give them faster speed, but cost more food consumption. Or let them stay awake much longer at the cost of another stat. The ships you command work very much the same way, and you’ll spend a lot of the game micromanaging the status of your engines, weaponry, and navigational computers.

During space combat you’ll also pull up an overhead combat screen where you’ll move your cursor around attacking enemy ships, as well as moving your own ship. This is where some of the game’s flaws start to crop up though. The game has a way of overwhelming you with the amount of things you need to pay attention to, and not directing you on how. Or more accurately not directing you on how with proficiency. There are text boxes that will pop up telling you to turn on weapons before you try to shoot them. There are text boxes telling you to move a guy to navigation. But it isn’t obvious just on how to do that. Especially when you start playing it for the first time. Even if you’ve played a handful of times it isn’t always obvious.

This becomes less of a problem if you get invested in the game. But for a lot of people, that means a lot of game time spent on training yourself to go through some seemingly archaic interfaces, and menus. Which isn’t fun to do. So it has the problem of hooking people from the outset. The game also has a number of small bugs. Giving items to certain characters can crash the game. For instance giving a robot character an item that uses food points, causes the robot to get hungry. Since the robot cannot eat, the game confuses itself, and crashes. On the surface, someone may say, “Oh it requires food. Robots don’t eat food. I can’t use this.” In practice you’ll have players who like to experiment, or players who don’t pay attention, and inadvertently discover these glitches. No game is bug free, and these bugs don’t completely ruin the game. But some of them will make you groan if you find one after sinking a lot of time into the game. So do save often.

The game doesn’t have quite the level of randomness of space roguelikes such as FTL. The map is the same, the instances are in much the same order. But the battles are randomized. The drawback is once you’ve discovered all of the planets you’ve seen most of the exploration portion of the game. But you might keep coming back for the battles, and ship building. But even with that being the case, many of the old space sims it pays homage to worked the same way. If you’re looking for a campaign you can take at your own pace this will still appeal to you. If you’re going more for a randomized builder it still might, though not quite as much.

In spite of its shortcomings I still recommend checking the game out. Especially for Star Trek fans looking for something that captures the spirit of the shows. It manages to be fun, if sometimes frustrating when learning what you’re supposed to do. But once you get past the learning curve it can be a blast. You can also be forced to start over too through your own ineptitude. So it isn’t a foolproof run once you have a handle on the star map chart. Your entire crew can die in a battle leaving you with no other option. It’s a challenging game. It’s worth playing. It just has some issues that keep it from reaching top warp speed.

Final Score: 7 out of 10.