MythForce wears its inspirations on its sleeves, showcasing a deep love and nostalgia for relics of a bygone era of television. Series like He-Man and...
MythForce wears its inspirations on its sleeves, showcasing a deep love and nostalgia for relics of a bygone era of television. Series like He-Man and the Masters of the Universe or GI Joe once reigned on Saturday mornings, but nowadays, as their primary audience has grown older and become creators themselves, the genre is experiencing a renaissance. He-Man and She-Ra are both on Netflix, TMNT: Mutant Mayhem is reaching milestones at the box office, and Transformers were never truly gone. And now, MythForce is here. Unlike the others, MythForce does not rely on an established franchise but rather pays tribute to the work that inspired it. Unfortunately, the final product falls short of capturing the essence of its inspiration, except for a few rare examples. It also feels incomplete in several aspects, featuring recurring environments and enemies, and lacking the gameplay depth that a roguelike should provide.
After the start of MythForce and the enjoyment of a rather amazing animated cutscene, players are thrown into a central world, or more precisely, a central screen. Without clear instructions, players will eventually realize that the few buildings in front of them are vendors offering a variety of upgrades. There is no setup of the game world or proper tutorials - nothing that guides the way or eases the players, apart from some text explanations accessible only by clicking on a small question mark symbol in each store.
From the central hub, one of four characters is selected, and friends can be invited to participate in a cooperative game with up to four players. Players can choose from unlocked levels or opt for the quick play mode. There is no detailed explanation of how the quick play mode works, but players will discover that they are added to an ongoing level with random online participants. The main progression of the story, if one can call it that, takes place over a series of nine levels divided into three chapters. Each chapter consists of three procedurally generated levels, with the third level culminating in a showdown with a cunning animated villain. The heroes find accessories and buffs that only last until the end of the level, as well as money and other resources that are saved and used for long-term progression.
When players enter the first level of a chapter, another animated sequence is played. They are quirky, chunky, and absolutely perfect. These short episodes, along with the game's fitting theme song, are wonderfully executed tributes to the fantastic cartoons of the 80s that brought MythForce to life. These elements truly make the game feel as it was intended. Unfortunately, this impression doesn't last long. Nowhere else does MythForce look or sound like a silly cartoon. Sure, the characters are designed in a cel-shading style that gives them that animated look, but the world around them has a completely different art style, making everything feel somewhat disjointed. The environments often appear empty, flat, and uninspiring.
The levels consist of approximately 15 floors each. Most of them are combat encounters, but occasionally there are shops or safe areas with chests. The shops sell buffs and accessories in exchange for gold. However, long-term progression in MythForce also relies on gold, so players must weigh the immediate benefits against delayed advantages. The combat encounters are all the same, except for the boss fights. Three waves of enemies must be defeated, and then the path forward opens up.
There simply isn't enough variation here. Different events occur around the halfway point and at the end of a level, but the actions in between feel very repetitive. In fact, repetition is the game's biggest flaw. With only a small number of floor layouts, players will see them over and over again. There's a trap, and it's present in every level, almost on every floor: a gargoyle head spewing elemental damage. A certain style of fragile pots is sometimes a sneaky enemy, but it's always the exact same style of pot. It may be initially surprising, but that's it. No, this isn't a time loop like in "Groundhog Day"; it's simply another identical square room.
The gameplay is entirely in first person. Ranged combat feels better than melee combat, where distances and hitboxes can be a bit peculiar. Players might be certain they have evaded a sword or exited the impact zone of a spell, only to still take damage. Fighting from a distance provides a smoother experience, especially when playing with a mouse and keyboard. Using a bow or casting spells is enjoyable, and headshots always feel satisfying. Two characters can equip spellbooks, and the three options - ice, lightning, or fire - each have an additional effect that adds variety.
MythForce, on the other hand, offers a good variety of perks and enchantments, and the selection varies depending on the chosen character and weapons. Accessories, however, are a different story, as there are only a handful of options that players will see repeatedly. In the lower levels, many of these accessories provide negligible bonuses, so it's really up to the perks and weapon enchantments to offer significant diversity.
Players will collect glyphs and gold, both of which are necessary for permanent progression. Glyphs are shared between characters, but frustratingly, this doesn't apply to gold. The reasoning behind this is not entirely clear and only serves to prolong the resource scarcity. The vendors in the central hub can be upgraded through the sacrifice of glyphs, with higher levels selling a greater number of upgrades. Unfortunately, most of these upgrades aren't very effective. The amount of gold and glyphs needed to purchase upgrades leads to a lot of effort for little impact, especially when aiming for the higher levels. By mostly ignoring the other vendors, it is very possible to invest everything in weapon upgrades and simply rely on brute force to overcome the game.
From start to finish, MythForce is a rather short affair. Players can unlock harder difficulty levels that offer more rewards, but they don't seem to provide anything truly new, just stronger enemies. However, since the levels are so repetitive, increasing the challenge alone isn't enough to inspire multiple playthroughs.
Some of the problems in MythForce could be forgiven if the core loop remained fresh and entertaining, but unfortunately, that's not the case. And with services like the Game Pass offering several solid rogue-likes, it's hard to justify the price of $29.99. Nevertheless, the basic idea of paying homage to 80s cartoons is very entertaining, and some elements of the game are brilliantly executed. A project like this can only come from passion, so hopefully, MythForce will have its day in the sun. The developer has announced plans to continue supporting the game, and further content has been hinted at. But in its current state, there simply isn't enough to recommend MythForce in terms of both quantity and quality.
Inspired by popular Saturday morning cartoons, MythForce combines sword and sorcery with immersive first-person combat in a new rogue-like adventure.
MythForce is now available for PC, PS5, Switch, and Xbox Series X/S. Game Rant received a PC code for this review.