Hey all. I’m back with a rather fun game that I looked at back in November when it was still in beta. It’s Mahokenshi, and now I am back for the full review.
GiN does not normally look at games that are still in beta, but we did with Mahokenshi because it offered a lot of interesting and unique gameplay possibilities. You can see our first impressions in that beta preview, which I very much enjoyed.
The beta was fairly limited in that you could only play with a single faction and then only for five missions. Even so, it was clear where Mahokenshi shined, which was in the gameplay. In the full version of the game, which is now available on Steam, you get to play with all four of the main characters, each with their own specialization which you can build into their battle decks.
The name of the title, Mahokenshi, refers to a special samurai from Japanese folklore who were also able to cast spells. So, kind of a Japanese mage, but one who also could wield a sword. If you think of some of the special powers from the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon movie, you will have an idea about what kind of character you will be playing in Mahokenshi, only in Japan instead of China.
And speaking of gameplay, Mahokenshi 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 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. It feels a little bit like King’s Bounty, at least the classic versions of that series where you would wander an overworld and then drop into specific battles. Of course, having cards makes it quite different because you do build your deck, but then also are subject to whatever comes up as you play.
As an example of combat, the cards you draw do almost everything, including allowing you to attack, or maybe to move to a new 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. Like in the beta, the healing card was easily one of my biggest aces since it repeatedly saved my bacon multiple times. Anyone building a deck should certainly include that one, because it’s nearly like a do-over card for when battles are going poorly.
Deck building is clearly at the heart of this title, and putting together the “perfect” build can become a bit of an obsession, with a perfect proving ground all around in the form of turn-based combat. Overall, that aspect of Mahokenshi is pretty intuitive, and you quickly can get sucked into the card system even as a complete newbie.
One thing that I was not expecting in the full release compared with the beta was the ramp up in difficulty. In the beta, only five missions were available, and I was able to get through them pretty quickly. They were challenging, but not overly so. In the full game, I found that the challenge factor ramped up pretty quickly after those initial few levels. Personally, I would have enjoyed just a bit gentler difficulty curves than what is present in the title after those first few levels.
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. My gaming rig is getting a little old, and really couldn’t handle everything visually that Mahokenshi offered.
Overall: Mahokenshi is an intuitive if difficult card battler mixed with a turn-based strategy game. Those who enjoy deep strategy and careful deck building will find a lot to like about Mahokenshi, especially if they are up for a challenge.
Developers: Game Source Studio
Platforms: PC, Steam