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Mistover Review: Tripping the Mist

/ Jan 7th, 2020 No Comments

MISTOVER review

Beware the vortex. The mist is madness. However, it is up to you to find out a way to save us all.

Mistover delivers a compelling blend of turn-based JRPG combat with roguelike exploration and roguelite/JRPG progression. It balances its framework story with a complex meta-narrative resulting in a journey shaped by your decisions and informed by the larger conflict.

Join the Expedition Corps

When the Pillar of Despair, a terrifying vortex, outside of Arta it brought tremendous creatures called Espers. They destroy many lands across the kingdom and nearly caused the end of the world. Yet mysteriously they stopped before the end was certain.

Life rebounded, but people feared when the Espers would return. Rather than waiting for their destruction they began exploring the vortex and the Mist that emanates from it. Those brave enough to enter found passage ways to different dimensions. Thus the Expedition Corps formed and tasked with officially exploring the Mist.

Arta became known for being home to the Expedition Corps. Guided by Duke Heinrich, the Corps seeks to end the Mist once and for all. When an amnesiac warrior appears in Arta, this becomes the turning point. As the amnesiac survived the Mist, they are uniquely poised to put an end by reaching the deepest dimension inside the vortex.

MISTOVER review
Joining the Expedition Corps is your way to riding the world of this blightful mist and vortex.

What Mistover does best with its story is set up a strong premise outright. You, the protagonist, have lost your memory, but if you help Arta find a way to end the vortex, you may get them back. It does a smart job of ensuring you don’t question why you’re helping the Expedition Corps and sets up the gameplay structure without a need for heavy exposition or intrusive story bits.

The narrative serves as a way to invest you into exploring dungeons, but doesn’t get in the way of gameplay. By having the narrative take a back seat until specific gameplay goals are met, it makes you care about how the story progresses. When the Duke plays more of his cards, it is both elucidating and welcomed.

Party of 5

In Mistover, preparation is a crucial part of gameplay. Before you can properly uncover the mysteries of the Mist, you need to make sure you’re prepared. Most vital to exploring is making sure you’re outfitted with a full squad. 

Enlisting the help of various would be Expedition Corp members is necessary. At the Expedition Center, by speaking with Mark, you’re able to hire on a bunch of different class types from the trusty paladin to the enigmatic Onmyouji. The breadth of classes makes combat so engaging as each class plays different with unique upgrade paths.

Once you’ve assembled your party of 5, it is time to make sure you’ve got the necessary supplies to start exploring. You can buy a wide variety of items that are useful. However, the items you have in ready supply are Light Flower Seeds and Food.

MISTOVER review
Exploration is a key part of Mistover. Preparation is a major part of a successful run, and using the unique skills is important to get you through each dungeon.

These items help prolong your journey as Light Flower Seeds recharge your light keeping the mist from overwhelming you, and Food, naturally, gives you the strength to continue exploring. If either your hunger or the darkness becomes too much, you’ll rapidly lose health, which could spell an early demise for your party.

When your party is set and your supplies are purchased. Visit the Office to take on requests from the villagers and other Corps members. Once you’ve got your marching orders, it is time to begin exploring. 

Inside the Mist, there are many areas to explore, but you need to vanquish the evil at the core of each area before the next opens up. The first concern for the corps is the Misty Woods where cult members have been kidnapping villagers.

The challenge in exploration breaks down relative to map size and enemy level. The smaller the map is the less tough the enemies are. Small maps are perfect for getting your sea legs as they have less area to travel, but the rewards they yield are lesser.

MISTOVER review
Each party member can upgrade their skills and changes their jinxes. Jinxes can either be mild or detrimental, and by changing them you can make sure your party members are best prepared for dungeons.

When you explore you’ll randomly come across enemies of different temperaments: blue are docile, while red are aggressive and their size determines their level. Red enemies actively chase you and track your movements, whereas blue avoid you.

Encounters aren’t random. You’ll know when you’re going to get in a battle and relatively speaking how tough the challenge will be. Combat is turn based with each of your party members able to use basic attacks or skills on their turn. However, attacks and skills are influenced by the row they occupy.

The turn counter is faced at the bottom of the screen. Turn order can be influenced by status effects and smartly attacking specific enemies. There is a strategic element to combat because focusing your attacks on specific foes helps you avoid unnecessary damage, or let you use skills to influence a monsters row.

While there is a lot of nuance to combat that informs the strategic layer, the simple truth is that monsters can easily overwhelm you. Even with good planning and preparation the random chance inherent in hits landing or a status effect applying throw those at the window. The fact of combat is if you’re not calculating and weighing risks than you are done for with either part or all of your team being wiped out.

MISTOVER review
Combat is easy to pick up, but has a lot of nuance and depth.

Death is core to the experience. You will lose party members, and when they die they are gone forever. Luckily, you get a saving grace opportunity to prevent your party member’s demise. If you can heal them in a near death state before they get hit again, you’ll save them and if you can’t than they will shuffle the mortal coil taking their experience and most of their gear with them.

Whether you’re exploring small, medium or large maps, they have a clear condition and an exit you must find. Clear conditions essentially have you explored enough of the map, opened enough chests, found enough resources, and defeated enough enemies. You can satisfy clear conditions but until you find the exit you have completed the map, and vice versa you can exit the map without satisfying clear conditions.

As with combat being calculating and assessing risk is important when exploring. If you’re not willing to lose a little you won’t make much progress. However, if you always throw caution to the wind than you are never going to gain enough spoils or develop your party into fearsome warriors. There is a lot of dynamic decision making required to explore the Mist.

However, the Doomsday Clock forces you to weigh all options heavily before making them. Every time you venture into the Mist you will be influencing the speed at which Arta heads to ruin. If you don’t open enough chests, find enough debris, kill enough monsters, or explore enough than the Clock moves closer to ultimate destruction. Everything you do matters, so make every moment count.

Overall

Mistover draws heavy inspiration from Darkest Dungeon, but it plays as an homage rather than a clone. Unlike its source inspiration, Mistover doesn’t suffer from the steep difficulty spikes. That isn’t to say there is a lack of challenge, but the challenge builds as you go deeper into the mist.

Mistover was reviewed on a Nintendo Switch with a code provided by the developer.

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Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. While he is Orange County born, he now resides in Portland, OR. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs
Kalvin Martinez

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MISTOVER REVIEW: TRIPPING THE MIST

Gaming Illustrated RATING

Overall85%

GAMEPLAY8.5

Mistover features strong turn-based JRPG inspired combat with a complex leveling system and a grizzly roguelike exploration aspect.

GRAPHICS9

Mistover’s grim chibi style graphics invoke a spirit of Mike Mignola’s artwork.

SOUND8.5

Mistover has a good score and pleasing Japanese voiceover.

STORY8

Mistover’s narrative plays on a surface level, but plays on a deeper level when you realize the many choices you make influence how well you explore the mist.

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