Developer / Publisher: Kamina Dimension // Price: $23.99(eShop) / $19.99 (Steam)
Review copy received from publisher
When I’m playing a video game, I’m always looking for a sense of adventure. I want the game to take me to far away places and let me get lost in the world around me. Metroidvanias are a great way to experience this. The consistent pacing of exploring an area to find a new ability that can then be used to explore a different area is a great way to establish adventure. Mindseize does a great job at establishing that sense of adventure, but there are a few things that prevent it from being in the upper echelon of Metroidvanias.
What Does This Do?
Mindseize has extremely strong Metroid vibes. As with Metroidvanias, there is a heavy emphasis on upgrades to unlock additional areas and attacks. Not only are upgrades found through exploration and defeating bosses, they can also be bought using the money dropped from enemies when they are defeated. While there are plenty of upgrades, the opportunities to backtrack and open new areas are limited. The areas are self-contained since they are broken up into four different planets unlike the giant interconnected maps typical of Metroidvanias. Unless playing to complete 100%, there isn’t a huge need to return to a previous planet. Mindseize automatically creates a map of these planets as players explore them to help track progression. Sadly, there is no way to make notes on the map to mark areas that may need to be revisited. The Nintendo Switch screenshot feature helps fill this void, but the ability to notate the map would have been a helpful feature.
The Big Baddie
Boss battles are a big draw for games in this genre, and Mindseize definitely has some interesting experiences. The bosses are unique in their design with each one having multiple attacks. As the boss loses health, the difficulty ramps up with the boss adding new attacks or new hazards appearing in the arena. The attack sequences aren’t predictable, so it requires focus to note which attack is coming. However, there isn’t much time to react after the boss telegraphs its next attack. This leads to some frustrating experiences. A single attack can stun the character, so the quickness of the attacks combined with the lack of action due to being stunned can cause multiple hits to land and deplete the health bar very quickly. Players should expect to try multiple times to defeat the bosses. Thankfully, save points are usually right outside the boss arena. Occasionally, the save point can be a few rooms away from the boss arena, meaning that it is very likely that players start at the boss without full health adding to the frustration.
Tying it all Together
To connect the adventure and boss battles, Kamina Dimension promoted a deep story for Mindseize written by a professional screenwriter. I appreciate the effort in developing a meaningful story, but that effort comes up a little short. The characters lack sufficient background and personality to make them memorable which makes it very hard to connect with the characters. The story itself is a bit generic and bland, only serving as a reason to move from planet to planet to get to the final boss. Another small quibble I have is that there are a few errors in the text, but English may not be the first language of the developers who are based in Norway.
Where the story is lacking, the visuals make up for it. I highly recommend pausing the action to admire the detail present in the pixel art, especially during boss fights (since you will probably have to play the boss battle multiple times anyway). It is easy to see that a tremendous amount of time was spent designing the backgrounds which helps create an immersive adventure. In addition to the defined artwork, the animation is super smooth as the characters move effortlessly across the screen.
Mindseize is a solid entry in the Metroidvania genre. The planets are large enough to give a sense of exploration, but the backtracking aspect was a little light. There was not a strong reason to go back except for the sake of 100% completion. The action and adventure make up for the weak story; it’s what kept me coming back looking for more. My biggest grumble is that the bosses were frustrating. I can’t say the bosses were unfair or cheap, but the pace of the action combined with the stunned reaction after a hit can create a no-win situation. Despite its flaws, Mindseize is an entertaining and rewarding adventure.
|Pick up and play|