If you’re like me and you look at screenshots of games before actual gameplay, then like me you’ll probably automatically compare Mage and Monsters to games such as Vampire Survivors. Whilst it borrows some similarities in the way you purchase upgrades and powers between waves, it is a different gameplay loop entirely. The game is entirely developed and published by solo developer Lasse Zacho Malver and was originally launched on PC back in October 2022. After a stream of very positive reviews across the board it finally landed in the hands of the Xbox console a few days ago. For the extremely low price point of less than a pint of beer here in the UK, it is well worth the plunge.
Mage and Monsters is essentially an auto battler where you will choose every set of troops you’ll deploy along with the upgrades and powers to complement them. The beauty of the game is that no two runs ever appear to be identical as you can utilize different strategies each time you play. It has a feel of the popular tower defence title Kingdom Rush where you need to plan your future moves wisely and try your best to see it through to the end. Between rounds, you will have accumulated coins which you can spend at the shop. This could be extra units, a spell, or increasing the power of units or spells
Visually Mage and Monsters adopts a retro aesthetic akin to games of the early 90s. Whilst it may be very simplistic and basic, it is incredible to think this has all been constructed by one person. I particularly enjoyed the fact that there are several enemy types and also plenty of units to work through with variance in strength. The plethora of powers to pick from also makes for different moments of chaos on screen when giant armies are locking heads. As for audio, again it’s pretty basic but does exactly what you’d expect
The longevity of the game does dwindle a little once you invest all of your currency between playthroughs into all the unlocks. Strangely I found myself having fun not ploughing through 30 waves to the endgame missions, but thinking how I was going to build up to get through those. Once you beat the main waves, the endgame levels become harder to bear and the difficulty is ramped up, if you haven’t invested in the right areas, then your troops will crumble.
Mage and Monsters is an absolute steal at its current price point and whilst the sequel to this one is close for PC, console users should take a look for sure. At £4.09 you will certainly get a steady 4-6 hours of gameplay out of it should you wish to get everything ticked off. Replayability is certainly there if you want to test yourself with runs using a different sequence of powerups and friendly units. I enjoyed this one way more than I anticipated and can’t wait to see how the sequel goes down now these solid foundations have been laid. Don’t let this one skip you by.
- Plenty of hours for a low-price investment
- An auto battler that still has you engaged at all times
- Lots of troops and powers to play around with
- Once you unlock everything, longevity dwindles
- UI could do with being a bit easier to read