Everyday people become heroes, MythForce! It’s true; that’s what it says in the fabulous intro. Yep, MythForce is the greatest 80s cartoon that never happened. It is a bit like vaporwave and has about as much longevity save for the odd die-hard.
Launched in Early Access but now available for the masses with all the bells and whistles via PC and consoles, this first-person rogue-like developed by Beamdog, published by Aspyr, is a co-op dungeon crawler type that features four heroes as they storm through procedurally-generated levels, killing all wrongdoers.
Cast over nine episodes, MythForce is essentially the same setup throughout: kill a handful of enemies, wait for them to spawn until a marker indicates you can move through the next area, open a chest, activate a perk (one of three), then walk through a magic barrier and do the same until you reach the boss (who’ll summon waves of enemies for you to fend off until the countdown reaches zero).
I played the MythForce demo in the 80s when this was released or during some Steam Next Fest or another. Like every Tom, Dick and Harry, I was blown away by the visuals. The cartoon intro is one of the best ‘nostalgic’ openings ever and may as well have been produced by Freemantle. It’s ace.
Spoiler alert: you can play an intro. Once it’s over, and you drool over the gorgeous illustrations, it’s time to pick your character. Choose from a sentinel type with a shield that looks like a She-Ra/Valkyrie hybrid, a piratey rogue, an archer far cooler than Hank from Dungeons & Dragons, plus an obligatory mage.
From a first-person perspective, you’ll head into the arena with a melee and ranged weapon. At first, melee combat feels fun, but after the first few waves, it becomes apparent that the AI is somewhat complacent. Sure, there are difficulty levels, but they either rush you or attack from a distance. As we all know from first-person melee, it can be disorientating to target and respond to an enemy not within your peripherals.
I Don’t Remember This Show…
It becomes clear that ranged attacks are the most enjoyable in MythForce. Headshots are great, and with the mouse, highly accurate. On the easier difficulties (hands up, I admit it), the archer and mage feel overpowered as it’s possible to get perks and upgrades that focus on your attacks, making them oh-so-deadly – more so than melee weapons.
That said, the rogue was enjoyable. Unable to parry each time, I could block with the sword while stabbing with a dagger. Very vicious, very good. Of course, you can team up online with others and co-op with three players and have one or two at the back picking off enemies while the others rush in. Like fools.
Besides collecting coins for each murdering, an abundance of chests contain treasure that can be exchanged for better gear at the marketplace or between stages at your hub. As stated, there’s usually a pitstop before each area that awards a new upgrade. These can be applied to your gear or specials. There are three in total, ranging from support skills like barriers or teleporting ahead to melee an enemy or backstab them. Oh, you bitch. Apparel can also give boosts such as speed, lower stamina costs, and whatnot.
By The Power Of…
Alas, MythForce is incredibly repetitive. Gorgeous it may be, repeating the same batch of attacks and spotting the enemy patterns becomes monotonous. The counter to this is the endgame in that you can invest in your gear and buffs between runs. Higher difficulties award more, but even then, it’s marginal. The draw for replay value will be the co-op opportunities with mates.
In my opinion, the MythForce characters lack any personality. The intro builds them up, as does the character select screen. Still, despite some slightly different movesets and individual dialogues, there’s limited scope for ‘identifying with them’ or even having a favourite. There are no 80s morals, no opportunity to bag an action figure, and though they look the part, the baddies are more Hordak than Skeletor. Well, that’s subjective – maybe you’re a She-Ra fan.
Sure, MythForce looks tremendous, but take the visuals away, and it’s quite a mundane first-person experience. A few more cutscenes, some out-of-character habits from enemies, level variety… ok, I’m being picky. I didn’t encounter any technical issues, but the overall gameplay and experience were, unfortunately, on the average side.