The nostalgia hit that went with booting up Himalaya Studios’ Mage’s Initiation: Reign of the Elements was palpable. Being a fan of the point and click genre of gaming as a kid, I was keen to sink some teeth into this.
I’d spent hours playing titles such as Secret of Monkey Island and Broken Sword, so I was keen to get started.
Mage’s Initiation follows a young mage named D’arc who, after many years of study, has finally been summoned to perform his initiation proper into the organisation of Mages. The initiation is a series of moral questions asked in front of the ruling council.
Mage’s Initiation Review
This council is made up of mages encapsulating the four elements; Air, Water, Fire and Earth. Your answers to these questions determine what school of magic you will use for the quest. I chose earth so I could pelt rocks at monsters and talk to trees.
I really liked the fact upon further exploration that certain schools make certain parts of the world interact differently to the player. Without spoiling anything, as an earth mage I could talk to the Screaming Tree, but not the Eagle Guardians.
In Mage’s Initiation whatever school is chosen allows for the main quest to be completed. The path in doing so will be different. For those who enjoy it and wish to explore the ins and outs, the different schools will provide some replayability.
As D’arc I set forth on my perilous quest in the fantasy world of Iginor. D’arc must explore various areas on the map solving puzzles and combining items in true point and click adventure style. Fans of this genre may get a kick out of it, but personally, I found the fetch quest style quite frustrating.
Especially when it took me back to the mage’s tower to fetch something or to dislodge something or other in order to progress to a different part of the quest. Only then, after finally figuring out the puzzle (which was most satisfying) to be told to go back to where I literally just was to talk to someone about another part of the puzzle.
To make matters worse I already knew about this second part of the puzzle through an interaction with another character. Either I missed some really important things along the way or it was just simply bad writing and time padding.
What Was I Doing Again?
Either way it left me very disheartened and considering the game’s title, literally felt like I was the butt of an apprentice joke. I swear to fuck if someone told me to go get a ‘long wait,’ or a can of tartan paint I’d scream. The worst part about the quest setup is the lack of a journal or quest log to keep things tidy and cohesive.
The icing on this cake was being asked to kill a biclops (two heads apparently) but literally having no information on it other than it needs to be killed. Infuriating.
Nonetheless, I trekked on and explored the world. On a positive note, the backdrop art for this game is stunning. I was actually marvelling at the way the depictions of the different locations unfolded and the skill of the artists.
The Lake, where part of the main quest occurs, whilst simple, has subtle shimmers as D’arc rowed across it and it left me quite impressed. As did the various fauna that populates these areas; albeit their high-res textures and animations stark against the static backgrounds.
All of the artwork and assets seemed to fit well and bring the world to life except for our hero D’arc. His animations looked a little janky at times, traipsing around the locales though it was definitely something I could look past as the game progressed.
Combat in this game threw me for a loop. It takes place in real time and uses hotkeys and keyboard presses to attack enemies with auto targeting. This system has a chance to miss and it felt a little out of place clicking my character around the map and stopping to shoot my spell at enemies. It was especially odd to have to run off the map into the next section, then go back and try and finish them off.
Voice Acting? Yes, Please
I was impressed with the amount of voice acting that was used in Mage’s Initiation. Each interactable character had quite a lot of lines of dialogue to listen to and interact with. They each have their own personalities and very little over the top fantasy tropes… Aside from D’arc. That being said, a 16-year-old mage who has spent 10 years locked in a tower with other mages would sound annoying and theatrical in his speech, right?
He reminded me of an even more insufferable Harry Potter.
What actually impressed me the most about this title, was the hints of lore about the world learned through snippets of conversations and texts in the mages tower. The society is divided into the Gifted (the mages) and the un-gifted; literally everyone else.
The common folk tolerate the mages’ powers, and the mages rely on their magic to sustain themselves. Innovation and technology are shunned by the magi which leads me to believe this game is some kind of post-apocalyptic fantasy?
More Than Meets the Eye
I’m not sure, but the theory in my head sounded pretty decent. One moment, in particular, stood out. A common baker was sheepishly questioning why the mages don’t help them with their gifts only to be harshly rebuked by D’arc for daring to speak about it. Perhaps the nature of the mages is a sinister one?
It’s questions like this that make this title a little more interesting and could encourage further exploration by the developer.
Overall, Mage’s Initiation feels a little old and dated. It has the potential to be enjoyed by fans of the genre of style and for nostalgia, but it’s going to be a hard time for anyone new to adventure games.
This Mage’s Initiation review was based on a PC code provided to PowerUp! by the developer.
Game Title: Mage's Initiation Reign of the Elements
Lush Backdrops - 8.5/10
Plenty of Voice acting - 7/10
Nostalgia Factor - 6.5/10
Clunky quests and interface - 4/10
Dated style of game - 4/10