Developer: Nerdook Productions
Platforms: Switch, XBox One, PC
Reviewed On: Switch
Release Date: 02/09/2021
Reviewed By: Keith Lavelle
Review Rush was kindly supplied with a review code
There’s been a murder! And it is you that has to solve who done it. With a mix of deck building, RPG, and diplomacy. In a dark dingy middle aged town.
There has been a murder in the small town of Silverhurst of a fellow Magister. You have been dispatched to solve the murder and you have 14 days to figure it out.
This is the basis of the game. However, the game is procedurally generated from the Magister you can play as to the missions that you can do. Making each game play out differently.
With this is mind, the approach to each playthrough will have several defining features. The main ones are the murderer and the motive and how the Magister itself changes the game in different ways.
So after arriving at Silverhurst, you re met by the major and told where the murder took place and this is your first destination. After arriving, you need to get the key off the innkeeper and then investigate the murder. It is now up to you to find out the motive, the murder weapon, and, overall, the murder.
We can break the Magister down in to three separate parts. Deck-builder/turn-based RPG, resource management (of sorts) and evidence building.
I start with this as this will define the game. When arriving, you have 14 days to find the murderer. It broke the days in to times of the day, early morning through to late evening. As you move around the world map and interact with the points, the day will move on to the next part of the day, e.g. Early morning to morning, early afternoon and so on. When you are at points on the maps you have three interactions, Talk to villagers in the village, talk to villagers out of the town and fight. Here I will talk about the village folk.
In order to find out who is the killer and why they did it, this is the most important part of the Magister’s day. You will need to talk to the possible murders to find out clues to who it could be. There are only a few folks that need to be talked to for information. However, information does not come free.
In-order to get the information you need from the key players of the story, gain their confidences, by increasing their trust from zero starts to three stars, for them to open up. This is done in several ways, from selling items, defeating bandits and so on. You will need as many folks to open up as possible to get closer to the answer. Some of the information is as simple as he wore boots, to pointing the finger to someone who was in the inn on the night of the murder.
If you confront someone and their story does not match up with the evidence collected, you can challenge them on it by presenting it to them. Like in Phoenix Wright (without the objection). This will open up new dialog and information. All the people in the village all have a motive to hate the dead Magister. So don’t go accusing everyone, or you could.
As The Magister is an who done it, so a lot of time is taken up by talking and using evidence to find. However, does to the writing this section did not get boring or forced. As it is broken up with side quests.
Deck Builder/Turned based RPG
These two parts go hand in hand together. I will start by outlining the RPG elements.
The Magister gains EXP in several ways, by collecting information on the murder, battles and as a reward (if chosen). On level up, you will get to pick one of three cards and add it to your deck for your fights. As rewards for fights, you could pick EXP or money you can as well unlock perks that affect the game. Both being important as The Magister needs to sleep that cost money or hires help to use in fights or give their insight in the case. There is not much expanding on the RPG elements, but there is enough their to keep the game ticking on. One part I enjoyed is the fact you will never become over powered through the game, so each fight will be a bit of a challenge.
Now let’s get on to the fighting!
Or let’s try diplomacy first. If the perk that allows Tactical Diplomacy is unlocked, you can, before fights, try to settle conflict without bloodshed. The aim is to lower the rage of the enemy to zero. Rage is random or can be changed with perks. TD is a mini game. There are ten turns to lower the rage or battle begins. This is also as a card game. You will need to gain essence by using cards to perform actions that will lower rage or add extra turns and so on. Each turn will also give you the chance to add a new card to the deck for a set cost of essence. It will be up to you to decide to act or buy. As you move up to turns, cards will appear that will hinder your progress, e.g. Anger. You can get rid of them or ignore them. If you ignore them, it’s an extra card that blocks usable cards. If you get rid, you lose essence. It’s got a great tactical element to it.
Lower Rage to zero the fight is over and rewards are reaped, however, lose and battle will begin. We conducted battle in a turn based style, where you are dealt a hand of cards and you are free to use any or none of these. Unlike most turn-based battle systems, agility is not a factor to when the Magister can act again. Instead, it works off time. Each card used will incur a time penalty, that will push the Magister back along the time line. This allows the player to control the flow of the battle to an extent. (I however, just attacked like crazy). If the Magister has a companion, they will act independently. Cards come in varying types, short range attacks, long range, defence and heals. Each with their own advantages and disadvantages. For instance, close range attacks do decent damage, while time penalty is low, it leaves you next to the enemy for attacks.
Not everything is as it seems in Sliverhurst. On the whole, the game works perfectly. Except for one problem. This is the controls in battle they suck. They are so fiddly and annoying to use. Think ice skating with no blades. This sums up the controls.
Overall, The Magister is a good game, with a lot of variety. With some well-written characters and plenty of intriguing, but let down by the poor controls. This would not be a major issue if fights were such an integral part of the game.
If you are looking for something different, and like Phoenix Wright, then it could be for you. But I would wait for a sale, unless you like ice skating.