Game: Mask of Mists
Genre: Adventure, Puzzle, Action, Other
System: Nintendo Switch (also on Steam and itch.io)
Developer | Publisher: 9 Eyes Game Studio | Sometimes You
Age Rating: US E10+ | EU 7+
Price: USD $14.99 | UK £13.49 | EU € 11,99
Release Date: September 2nd 2020
Review code used with many thanks to Sometimes You!
In Mask of Mists, you explore the Infected Territory: a part of the world that’s been damaged and corrupted by the side effects of a magical war. This corruption has weakened the barrier between the human world and the Abyss, a world of chaos and monsters, and creatures have been slipping through. One of the Academy’s Archmages was studying these creatures until he mysteriously vanished. You, a mercenary, have been hired to track him down. Explore the ruins and abandoned homes, piece together the Archmage’s scattered notes, and find him in the labyrinthine chaos of old ruins and new foes.
A Story in Scattered Notes
The game starts storybook style, giving you the context and a few illustrations before sending you on your way. For such an interesting premise, its introduction is pretty lackluster. I didn’t feel genuinely hooked on the game’s story until I started finding the Archmage’s notes scattered around the map. From there on, the gameplay is riveting and interesting, keeping you on your toes with a mixture of puzzles, action, and adventure. The puzzles have a lasting effect on the world around you, revealing new parts of the map, and rendering old threats harmless. The overall integration of the puzzles and action with the world is very effective and makes for cohesive, well-paced, and fulfilling gameplay. The narrative in the Archmage’s notes adds urgency to the game, showing you where he succeeded, failed, and persevered despite the risks.
However, the ending falls back into the flat storytelling of the beginning. While the gameplay builds up tension for a grand conclusion, the climax isn’t even animated in the style of the rest of the game. It’s told in the same storybook (or slideshow) style as the introduction, delivering a very lackluster conclusion to an overall interesting game.
A Magical World
Speaking of the game’s animation, it’s pretty gorgeous! The game is very atmospheric. While the Switch port seems to have worse graphics quality than the PC version, it runs very smoothly and the bright colors of the environment are a treat.
Wield Your Sword
Mask of Mist’s controls are pretty simple. Use the left stick to move and the right stick to turn, L to shoot your gun, R to swing your sword, X to drink a health potion, A to select, and B to jump. I mixed up the buttons for jumping and drinking potions too many times to count, but the controls are overall very simple and easy to remember.
The Length of the Journey
I finished Mask of Mists in two sittings, clocking in somewhere between four and five hours. My curiosity made it very difficult to set down, and I found myself picking it back up less than two hours later. I think it was a satisfying length overall. It was long enough to explore and develop the setting, but not so long that the juggle of information became tiring.
The flat introduction and the anticlimactic ending have definitely dampened my spirits about the game a bit, but overall, I definitely enjoyed it. I’m already thinking about revisiting the Infected Territory to find the easter eggs I missed and tie up the loose ends I left dangling in my first playthrough. While the setup and conclusion could have been more effective, the gameplay is what matters, and the gameplay was immersive, interesting, and dynamic. I’d definitely recommend Mask of Mists to anyone looking for an atmospheric puzzle game that keeps them on their toes.
Final Verdict: I Like it a Lot.