INSOMNIA

Mirage: Arcane Warfare (2016, PC)

By rabbit / May 24, 2017


There is no story, and no single-player campaign. It’s purely multiplayer PvP, as in Chivalry, but here you can play in both the first- and third-person perspectives. I prefer the third-person because you can see more of your surroundings, and don’t get ambushed as easily. Although, playing in first-person does make it easier to aim your attacks.
   The game looked interesting at first glance: more variety than Chivalry in classes, added spells, and parrying all types of attacks. However, the game suffers a few flaws.
   First and foremost, there is no matchmaking queue or any reason to stick a game out until the end besides rank XP and cosmetics. There aren't many players (at the time of this review the peak player count is 190) so matchmaking seems infeasible, but still it would be nice to have matchmaking with similar skill levels. Since there is no way to know how skilled your teammates and opponents are or get into matches with similarly skilled players, the game can be very frustrating or unsatisfyingly easy. There are few times when a round is actually evenly matched.

   Beyond this, there is not much in the game to encourage teamwork. There is no team voice chat for strategizing, only all-chat for voice. There is no minimap either, just little triangles to show you where teammates are but they don't specify distance. If your team is spread out, it is hard to tell where people are since their triangles can be in all directions and not immediately visible when looking in a particular direction. It would be a lot better if there were systems in place to encourage teamwork, since it is common for a team to sit on the objectives as a full team and never really get pushed off for the entire duration of the game while the other team trickles in one at a time — not realizing that their teammates are all dead. This is a tough situation since even getting 2v1'd is a very one-sided experience, and the characters have no real escape abilities. If you find yourself fighting two opponents, you are pretty much dead with no way out.
   Further, there are no alternative objectives on the map such as health packs, cooldown reductions, speed boosts, etc. to provide battle incentives. The only similar objects are small "Jinn" that drop when an opponent dies which give a small cooldown reduction and a small health bonus.
   As far as the spells go, they are okay with most of them being pretty obvious and not really offering much complexity. For example, there is a boulder, a whirling swing move, a few jump-then-slam moves, and some wide-range magic spells. There is one spell that could be used as an escape, Phase, but it is very short in movement and time active. The spells themselves have very long cooldowns of ten to 30 seconds, and even if you kill an enemy and pick up a Jinn you only get about -3 seconds, which is tiny compared to the actual spell cooldown. Often, this translates to killing the first enemy with spells and then any subsequent enemy must be killed with only your weapons. For a game that is trying to add abilities and variety to the PvP slasher genre, this feels like it's tacked on to the format rather than being really integral to it. Personally, I think the combat would be more interesting with a more diverse set of spells that aren't all just damage spells (aside from like three) that have shorter cooldowns and maybe do a little bit less damage. Escape and maneuverability spells would really add to the game.
   Speaking of maneuverability, the only way to sprint is to hold run until it automatically makes you sprint. There is no toggleable sprint, which is a shame. For a game that already has a stamina bar, it would be really nice to have a stamina-based sprint and a roll/side-step for every character. This would make combat a lot more interesting, especially when outnumbered.

   Finally, the tutorial is really cryptic. There are no HUD elements that let you know if you are parrying or riposteing correctly. There is apparently animation cancelling in the game to chain attacks together, but it is not clear when you are doing this correctly in the tutorial or in the game because there is no feedback. It also doesn't seem like the animations get very much shorter at all. It would be nice if there was a mode that teaches how to do this correctly with feedback and an indication in game when you animation-cancel.
   The maps themselves look pretty good though, as well as the cosmetic items.
   In sum, there are a lot of things wrong with this game that make it seem clunky and basic. There is certainly depth to the game as far as the weapon combat goes, but the spells don't add much to that. The trailer shows a lot of spell use, but in reality it's rare since the cooldowns are so long. However, the two most important criticisms in my opinion are the lack of a rating-based matchmaking system and the lack of a toggleable sprint and roll/side-step. The former makes matches very one-sided pretty consistently since you can play against total noobs or beta veterans and the latter makes combat very parry-based and not at all reliant on positioning and disengaging/re-engaging a fight.
   If they would add these two things and rework the spells to feel less like they are tacked onto Chivalry, this would be a really fun game. Without them, however, I cannot recommend the game at all.

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