ReviewsReview: Mages and Treasures.

Review: Mages and Treasures.

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No matter how simple your life is, there is always something that you cherish about it. Therefore, if someone was to take this away from you, you wouldn’t sit back and allow it to happen! Mages and Treasures explores this idea in its simple plot and retro aesthetic. It returns to a simpler way of gaming, and lovers of old-school action will adore the nod to a bygone era.

Developed by LightUP and published by Ratalaika Games, this is a retro RPG adventure title. Its basic approach, simple sprites, and easy-to-understand mechanics reminded me of both Milo’s Quest 1 and 2. Its core principles follow the same style, right down to each boss fight, the puzzles you encounter, and the monsters you vanquish. Luckily, I enjoyed both of those games, so I wasn’t too bothered by the familiar approach.

Mages and Treasures is possibly too simple.

Having recently endured the unrelenting pain of Elden Ring, it was nice to fall back on something much easier. Sadly, though, Mages and Treasures is possibly too simple! Its lack of complexity, easy to kill monsters, and basic mechanics fail to push you out of first gear. I went through the motions at every stage and was desperate for it to step up and begin testing me. Sadly, this never happened, and this makes the action feel a little flat.

The story does little to spice things up, and this added to the disappointment. You are a mage who has had his special treasure stolen by magical elvish creatures. Consequently, you must go on a magical adventure to reclaim your beloved item and teach those monsters a lesson they won’t forget. With so much promise regarding magic, battles, and unforgettable lessons, I had high hopes. Annoyingly, however, the plot never evolved.

Mages-and-treasures has large bosses to defeat.
I’m ready to extinguish your attack.

Simple mechanics.

The action takes place across an array of whimsical backdrops. Each location has unique monsters that must be studied to identify their weaknesses. Once you know how to kill them, it’s simply a case of kiting them and shooting them with your magic spells. Unfortunately, this process continues no matter the location, and this reduces the difficulty exponentially.

Unfortunately, this problem continues in the lacklustre boss battles. These gargantuan creatures should test your skills and combat prowess, however, they offer little resistance and fold quicker than a deck of cards. Sadly, it was infuriating to see the potential on offer, only for it never to materialise.

So, the combat is a damp squib, but surely the puzzle elements will be its redeeming quality? Disappointingly, no! The rinse and repeat approach of pushing crates from point A to B to activate switches was dull and mundane. Furthermore, there was a distinct lack of challenge and no variety to the problems. Every element will leave you wanting more while also feeling unsatisfied.

Mages and Treasures has a wide variety of landscapes to explore.
Here doggy doggy.

Mages and Treasures is gaudy.

Like many retro games, Mages and Treasures is vivid and bright. Its gaudy approach won’t appeal to all, but fans of old-school gaming will love the style. Moreover, the simple top-down look is reminiscent of early RPGs, and its basic sprites are nostalgic. I enjoyed the straightforward level designs, variety in backdrops, and the unique look of each monster. Each world is broken down into basic rooms and a rudimentary map helps you to navigate the small but interesting landscapes. It won’t win awards for its design, but it is a great trip down memory lane.

The nostalgia continues in the 8-Bit synth music and loud sound effects. The developers have incorporated a nice selection of songs that define each location while adding variety to the action. This was a wise decision, as the core mechanics added little to the story. The aesthetics are where Mages and Treasures excels. The developers focused much of their time on the style and approach, but this, unfortunately, undermines the overall finish.

Mages and Treasures relies on basic puzzles.
Careful of the TNT

Jarring controls.

Sadly, the complaints don’t end there! Annoyingly, the controls are jarring, slow, and frustrating. Your hero becomes stuck on invisible walls and this makes avoiding enemies an impossible task. Furthermore, the simple puzzles can easily be failed because you are unable to pull the barrels to rectify the inaccuracy you’ll encounter. Stupidly, these minor issues could have been easily resolved. Instead, however, they ruin what should have been a brilliant indie title.

LightUP has attempted to add some replay value and longevity by including golden chests. You must search each world to find keys that unlock these mysterious boxes. Once you unlock them, you are rewarded with gold and health potions, and little else. It’s simply another example of a mechanic that falls short of what is required. Fortunately, though, its saving grace is that it’s a completionist’s dream. If you are an achievement hunter, you’ll tick off another finished title in less than an hour.

Mages and Treasures disappointed me.

Unsurprisingly, I was disappointed with Mages and Treasures. It failed to live up to Milo’s Quest and left me disappointed throughout. Yes, there were moments of brilliance, but these were all too fleeting. Mostly, it left a bad taste in my mouth and I shall not be recommending you to buy it. However, more information can be seen here. Can you reclaim what is rightfully yours? Search the magical kingdom, overcome the puzzles, and kill every monster in sight.

SUMMARY

Mages and Treasures attempts to follow in the footsteps of Milo’s Quest but fails. It has many interesting qualities yet it doesn't evolve to offer anything new.

+ Colourful retro graphics.
+ Dramatic audio.
+ A variety of landscapes.
- Clumsy controls.
- A lack of replay value.

(Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. Also available on Nintendo Switch and PlayStation.)
Daniel Waite
Daniel Waite
My gaming career started on an Amiga and spans many consoles! Currently, I game using an MSI laptop and Xbox Series X. A fan of every genre, I love to give anything a go. Former editor and reviewer for www.bonusstage.co.uk, I'm loving my new home here at Movies Games and Tech. I can be contacted for gaming reviews on the following email: Daniel@moviesgamesandtech.com

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Review: Mages and Treasures.Mages and Treasures attempts to follow in the footsteps of Milo’s Quest but fails. It has many interesting qualities yet it doesn't evolve to offer anything new. <br/> <br/> + Colourful retro graphics. <br/> + Dramatic audio. <br/> + A variety of landscapes.<br/> - Clumsy controls. <br/> - A lack of replay value. <br/> <br/> (Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. Also available on Nintendo Switch and PlayStation.) <br/>