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Now that Beamdog's cartoony roguelite MythForce has spent a couple of weeks in early access, we can check out several previews for it. By the looks of it, the game in its current iteration suffers from a needlessly sluggish pace and some balance issues, which hopefully means the developers now have ample opportunity to properly utilize the early access model and address those issues.
At least in this early access state—launching exclusively on the Epic Games Store—the roguelite structure seems to be tuned towards dying early and often and restarting over and over to unlock character perks that make you just a little bit stronger. This works brilliantly in a game like Hades where the action feels fantastic from the beginning, and every run offers a different set of powers to juggle on the fly. By contrast, with a static set of character skills and a much slower pace, death in Mythforce is more of a grind. Start over and fight the same skeletons again, but with +5 starting stamina this time thanks to a level up.
Yeah, I'm sad to report that, at this point in time, the lovely visual style is all that the game has going for it. Mythforce is just really slow. At first I took this as a positive, not being fond of twitchy games and expecting some slightly more deliberate swordplay, but that's just not the case. It somehow manages to be simultaneously overwhelming and glacially paced, with the characters trudging around the arenas like they're wading through treacle. Each character has three abilities, ranging from teleportation to shield throwing, and they take an age to recharge. So you hold off on using them until you really need to, but they're not impactful enough to have felt worth saving.
It’s easy to end up trapped in a corner by a few enemies with no way to move as they wail on you until your stamina depletes. Running, blocking, and attacking all use stamina and you go through it rather quickly. Many situations end up feeling hopeless. It doesn’t help that it can be hard to know where enemies are coming from, as they like to sneak up on you while you’re fighting their friends. This includes enemy archers. The gameplay balance in Mythforce feels completely off to me. Nothing feels good or right, just slow and tedious.