Review : Grimoire – Manastorm (Early Access)

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Wizards aren’t very agile creatures, so making them the main characters in an FPS might seems like a strange choice. You won’t be sprinting across the battlefield, you can’t even crouch due to your elderly wizard knees. Your only weapon will be your bare hands and the element of your choice. Destroy your foes with fire, lightning, or even the power of the nether. Currently there are 6 classes, each offering their own unique playstyle. While some class roles are fairly obvious, like nature wizards having the ability to heal, the actual execution is entirely up to you. Tweaking your playstyle is made even easier by allowing you to pick your own “utility” and “mobility” spells. Feel like blasting your enemies from a rooftop? Use a mobility teleport to get on the roof and rain destruction down. Playing a long-range class, but not great at aiming? Use a utility binding spell to keep your enemies still for a second. The action is fast-paced and based on completely on skill. It’s early access, but the potential is there. Here it comes, Grimoire- Manastorm!

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The spell effects are pretty great, especially viewed from third-person. In first person some of them are a bit lackluster, but that is to be expected during early access. The character models look nice, as do the levels. There are control point and team deathmatch game modes available. It’s a pretty awesome feeling, watching two teams of wizards slinging spells at each other. Spells move at different speeds, but most are able to be dodged with some quick reflexes. You are able to use a blink called “mana-step” to traverse ground quickly. Mana-step is the only skill that seems to use mana, which means you can sling all the spells you please. Not worrying about mana makes the combat much more frantic, as neither wizard will generally ever stop casting during combat. Blinking behind a cart to dodge an icebolt and returning fire with your own spell school is intense, and with a full server the action is constant.

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There doesn’t seem to be any damage multipliers based on elemental strengths and weaknesses, a la Pokemon, but I think it would be a nice addition to strengthen the class-based gameplay. The classes seem to still require some tweaking and balancing. My roommate and I both found ice to be extremely overpowering to almost any other class. Ice is a relatively close-range class, so picking lightning and striking from afar seems to castrate your opponent relatively well. Aiming better than your opponent is really less than half of the battle. Knowing which spells your opponents are likely to use, and how to counter them is what will end up winning wars. Thinking on your feet, and using wits along with clever use of spells is exactly what being a mage is all about, and to see it come to life in such a fantastic way is something to behold. However, it is still early access, so there are a couple of blemishes.

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The biggest obstacle the game will need to overcome is a loyal player-base. There are dev playtests 3 times weekly, which makes it relatively easy to get the full experience but in off-hours most matches you find will be 1v1. There is also currently no music aside from the main menu, though that music is quite epic and mythical. I would also like to see a bit more variety in the levels, and to have the first-person spell effects be kicked up a notch. There is time for all of the above to be fully fleshed out, and if you can find a decent match, what is offered is amazingly fun. I suggest it to anyone who enjoys a real time battle of wits and reflexes whilst slinging a bevy of spells at your opponent. Thanks to Omniconnection for the review copy. Here’s to hoping Grimoire- Manastorm will blossom into what it deserves to be.

Summary: Amazing magic-based FPS with 6 (10 upon release) classes and endless playstyles.

Final Score: 6/10 for gameplay, models, and spell effects.

Grimoire- Manastorm was released on Steam Early Access on Feb. 4th, 2015

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