Getting a First Look at the Upcoming Japanese Folklore Card Battler Mahokenshi

Hey all, I’m back with a rather fun game that I got to take a very advanced look at. It’s Mahokenshi. The game is being developed by Game Source Studio and published by Iceberg Interactive. It is scheduled to release on the Steam platform for the PC in January, and you can already add it to your wish list there if you want. The developers gave me an advanced look, although only the first five levels are complete at this point. Still, that was more than enough to be able to dive into this impressive card battle type adventure.

Editor’s Note: If you are looking for another game preview, check out our first look at Zero Sievert, an apocalyptic shooter adventure that was previewed earlier this week.

Mahokenshi is described on its Steam page as: “Begin your journey to become a mighty samurai mage! In a blend of adventure, strategy and deckbuilding gameplay, choose how you will follow the way of the Mahoken. Explore the Celestial Islands, build your deck, battle challenging demons, and protect the land from the forces of corruption.”

So, let’s see how Mahokenshi plays.

Plot: The plot is pretty standard. A hero (you get to play a handful of them) answers the call to protect their homeland from evil. Honestly, as someone who studies Japanese mythology, I thought that Mahokenshi should have gone much deeper into the lore. What we get in Mahokenshi is very basic given the deep history it has to draw from. Maybe more will be added as the game keeps developing?

For instance, the setting of the game is the Celestial Islands, which is a bit more Chinese in terms of mythological setting than Japanese. That does get talked about a bit so it’s not inaccurate, just not at all what I think of when I think about Japanese mythology. When I think Japanese mythology, I think of Oni, Yokai, and the various Kami. Again, I’m not saying it’s wrong, because it isn’t, but it didn’t mesh with my own view of Japanese mythology like another game that I reviewed earlier this year, Ghostwire: Tokyo, was able to do.

Gameplay: Here is where Mahokenshi really starts to shine. The game is a card battler, but it also is a turn-based strategy game of sorts, which makes for a nice combination. What I mean by that is that you move your character around the map to complete objectives and defeat enemies, but the actual combat and movement is affected by the four cards you draw each turn.

The cards you draw can allow you to attack, or maybe move to a spot regardless of that space’s terrain penalty. There are other cards that are also really helpful in battles, like one that heals your character if drawn. The healing card was easily one of my biggest aces since it repeatedly saved my bacon multiple times.

It was a lot of fun playing the five missions currently available, and there were some optional “challenge missions” I’ll admit to skipping, but Mahokenshi definitely wasn’t too difficult to play, nor was it a walk in the park. The balance the developers have set in this early build of their game is pretty spot on. Those who are used to card battling will be able to shine here, though not without thinking through their strategy, and not without getting challenged.

Overall, Mahokenshi is pretty intuitive, and you quickly can get sucked into the card system even as a complete newbie. Also, earning points from me is the fact that you can play as Misaki of House Topaz who is the fox girl, an Asian myth/trope that I enjoy. The fluffy tail is a trope for a reason.

Art: The art is really nice, although you may need a fairly powerful gaming rig in order to get everything out of it. A console version of Mahokenshi might be a good idea so that everyone can enjoy the effects and graphics with the same hardware.

Music: The music is decent, but not compelling enough to just bask in like some games I could name. It does its job by enhancing the gameplay.

Overall: Mahokenshi provides a nice twist on the card battle and strategy game genre. It’s not what I was expecting, but the five missions I was able to play in the preview were exciting and fun. If development on Mahokenshi continues like this, it should be a solid title when it releases in January.

For those who like: Turn based strategy games, card systems, mythology, fun gameplay and intuitive systems.

Not for those who don’t like: Any of the above.

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