There’s no shortage of dungeon crawlers or roguelikes on the PS4, so standing out is crucial if you want your game to get attention. This has led games to use unique art styles, outlandish mechanics, or a bold setting to help the game rise above the rest.
Mistover initially caught my eye due to a combination of these things. The title has some similarities to other popular titles, but it also incorporates some new ideas. The real question here is whether Mistover gives you enough reason to dive into its dungeons, or if this roguelike has an identity crisis too severe to properly pull you into its world.
A Fresh Mixture of Both New and Old
People who look at Mistover will immediately draw comparisons to Darkest Dungeon, which uses a similar art style and a gameplay loop that involves recruiting team members and running dungeons. That’s about where the similarities end, however. Mistover does a lot to differentiate itself.
It all starts with the story, which is both urgent and unique. It takes place in a world where a vortex of mist that corrupts everything it touches has wreaked havoc on the world. Humanity is on the brink, so they’ve begun sending groups into the vortex in the hopes of finding a way to stop it.
Here’s where things get interesting. The interior of the vortex, dubbed “The Pillar of Despair,” leads to other dimensions. As the leader of your respective squad, you’ll need to hire others to take into the vortex with you. All of this sets up a good reason for multiple runs and dungeons to exist in the game’s world.
Beyond the overarching story, you’ll also have the option to interact with NPCs at the hub area, which goes beyond just using their services as a shop, storage, or recruitment area. The dialogue is voiced, but the only option is Japanese voice acting. Given how voice acting can go either way in quality, I actually prefer Japanese voices when I have the option, so this doesn’t bother me, but it’s worth noting.
There is some additional character lore for the classes, which adds a nice layer to the story, but the real urgency I mentioned earlier comes from the Doomsday Clock. When you leave a dungeon, the clock moves based on your actions within. Things like killing monsters, collecting loot, and lighting the blood-flowers will satisfy the clock, but you’ll often find yourself fleeing the dungeon for the sake of not losing a valued character.
In this situation, the clock would tick forward. Letting it get all the way to its end results in a game over, so it plays well into the decisions you’ll make while exploring dungeons. Speaking of which, let’s talk gameplay.
Exploring the procedurally generated levels involves moving on a grid-based map. Each move coasts you a little fullness and illumination. You can bring items with you to replenish these things, but the aforementioned blood-flowers allow you to light up an area at the cost of some HP.
Enemies are visible on the map and have their own movements. You can hide in bushes or plants to let them walk by or sneak up on them, but in my experience they were already on top of me before I could do anything like that. You may be tempted to save your items for future runs, but the game actually corrupts any items you try to leave with.
There are also keys to find that will unlock chests with the correct lock, so there is also potential to find items as you explore. In some cases, however, these are corrupted from being exposed to the mist.
Corrupted items are less effective and also have a random chance of side effects. It’s not terrible to use them, but the last thing you want is your consumables going bad as it were when you leave. Again, this adds a nice bit of depth to the strategy, since you’ll decide exactly what you take with you into each dungeon.
While there is a lot to think about as you explore dungeons, the environments aren’t very compelling or exciting since they are randomly generated each time. This results in a lot of the same textures and styles repeated across a maze-like area. Given the interesting premise and the possibility of multiple dimensions, I would have liked to have more compelling exploration.
The other side of the equation is, of course, the combat. When you get into a fight, both your characters and the enemies are arranged on two 3x3 grids. The combat is turn-based, but your attacks and skills have specific ranges and areas of effect, so positioning on both sides of the field is important.
When characters reach 0 HP, they can only take one final hit before they are gone for good. In terms of skills, you’ll have a basic attack and then everything else requires MP. Beyond offensive abilities, Mistover also has attacks that strike in a column and offer other different ranges or effects. Buffs and debuffs are here in full swing, with penalties like a speed boost for enemies that you fail to hit.
Other characters have separate meters that fill when they block or take hits, and ultimately power more impressive attacks. MP itself refills as you move around outside of battle, or by blocking during a fight. Fleeing a battle is possible too, like many RPGs, but there’s a 50% chance you will fail.
Top things off with special co-op attacks that you can pull off with the proper class in proximity, and Mistover does a lot to make its combat systems something that you’ve never seen before in this exact form.
All of this is framed with missions you can take on prior to entering the dungeon, so there is a sense of progression. That Doomsday Clock is always hanging over your head, but I found it to be a good motivator that puts some weight onto your decisions.
Don’t Judge a Dungeon By its Cover
Visually, Mistover is a mashup of different worlds and styles, but it ultimately works. It has sharp and defined details, but the characters are decidedly anime in their look and feel. While the characters are animated well, and attacks look good, the environments tend to feel a little one-note.
The music is varied and interesting, with different styles for both the hub and the dungeons or battles. As I mentioned earlier, I liked the choice to stick with Japanese voice acting as it sounds good and removes the possibility for less than ideal dubs.
Overall, Mistover is an interesting combination of different styles, mechanics, and inspirations. While it plays and looks good, repetition does tend to set in. The Doomsday Clock does help keep the sense of urgency alive, but the lack of variety in some of the visuals takes the excitement out of exploring other dimensions.
For those who enjoy roguelikes and dungeon crawlers, there are plenty of interesting ideas here worth checking out. For everyone else, Mistover is a curiosity that, at the very least, is worth a deeper look to see if it’s something you would enjoy.
Final Score: 7.5/10
A copy of Mistover was provided to PS4 Experts for review purposes.
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert date - 10/23/19