Sunday, March 1, 2015

Below the Cut: Mysterium (Game Boy)

(Source: Giant Bomb)
Mysterium - Rating(4 RPP)
1) 0 - Character Advancement: practice/experience based advancement, stat or level increases, multiple classes or characters, customize characters
2) 0 - Combat: character stats used for combat, additional combat options, turn based
3) 1 - Items and Equipment: store to buy and sell, equipment decisions, item decisions
4) 2 - Story: main story at the forefront; world full of hints and lore; descriptions for objects, people, and places
5) 0 - Exploration: open world from the beginning, visited locations remain open
6) 1 - Quests and Puzzles: side quests not related to the main quest, puzzles and riddles to solve

It's hard to say why this was lumped with other RPGs. I think it has more common in with adventure games, although the active combat, weapons, and armor muddies that genre definition. There's no character advancement, no skills, and no character stats or levels. Combat is completely active with a single attack button to fire the current weapon. Shields are the only form of armor. Both weapon and armor have a power score that adjusts combat prowess. There's no buying or selling, and no reason to equip the most powerful equipment. I suppose it's the first-person dungeon crawler perspective that does it.

There are some useful items outside of combat. The game centers on using elemental pools, and tossing in various items to exchange them for different items. This include weapons, armor, and keys. Keys are necessary to make progress through the maze of floors, each with its own key element. Between each floor--and from scrolls--a bit of the story is revealed. Each item has a good description, necessary to understand what will result from each mixture. It's one big puzzle, and it culminates in a final floor that tests your full knowledge of how each item interacts.

This is the type of game I really enjoy figuring out, and I did so a couple years ago when I was first researching the list. I've since done some speedruns, and currently have the time down to 15 minutes. I plan on improving that with a goal time of sub-14, but it takes a lot of memorization and optimization, especially for the final level. This isn't an RPG though, no matter how you look at it. Adventure? Sure. Puzzle? Probably. RPG? Not even close.


  1. Mysterium's description intrigues me. It reminds me of Princess Tomato and the Salad Kingdom, which also had exploration through first-person mazes, puzzles, and "combat" (a rock/papper/scissors minigame), but no character advancement or leveling up.

    If Mysterium ever comes on the 3DS eshop, I just might buy it.

    1. It's definitely a curio for it's time. A strange side project developed by Maxis, and published by Asmik. Asmik is known for other puzzle games, but Maxis' involvement stands out as very strange. I don't think the game sold very well. It's rather unknown, so it probably won't ever have a remake.

    2. Huh, never even heard of this game but looks worth checking out. I tend to enjoy adventure titles.

    3. Let me know if you enjoy it. I like knowing how games sit with various people. I'd say it's more puzzle oriented in the end, but adventure is a good secondary.