The Mageseeker: A League of Legends Story is Riot Games’ second foray into creating another bite-sized adventure in the League of Legends universe through its Riot Forge program. Digital Suns, developers of Moonlighter, created a 2D hybrid platformer and action game staring the Demacian revolutionary and mage Sylas. This story is focused around Sylas as he liberates his fellow mages from the oppressive Demacian state, and how he comes to lead a group of revolutionaries to follow his cause. However, while the gameplay is fairly solid, this title has the same issues as other pieces of media created through Riot Forge, and that’s consistency.
What The Mageseeker: A League of Legends excels at is keeping the essence of Sylas’ kit intact. Capable of “stealing” the ultimate ability of other characters in the wildly popular MOBA, Digital Suns translated this skill into a similar sort of ability. Sylas can effectively take the magic of whatever enemy he is targeting, allowing a single charge use of it against any foe of his choice. Additionally, siphoning this magic allows for it to be unlocked at the camp and permanently added to his roster of spells he can equip.
Abscond and Abduct are also part of Sylas’ kit in The Mageseeker. Using his petricite chains, Sylas can pull himself towards enemies, closing the distance to evade attacks or deal damage. It is incorporated in general traversal mechanics too, which allows players to access areas that would otherwise be just out of reach from his dash. This skill is especially fun to use. It really shined during a boss fight with the Veiled Lady (who is another immediately recognizable League of Legends champion), which required high mobility to counter her arsenal of spells.
Overall, The Mageseeker is a relatively tight 2D hybrid action game and platformer. Controls are snappy, with the exception of not really being able to dodge cancel some animations, and there is a good variety of spells at your disposal. Spells involve a rock, paper, scissor system, with fire being weak to ice and earth being weak to wind, and so on. It isn’t overly complex, and players can change the spells Sylas equipped during missions at altars to the Veiled Lady. That said, the levels will almost always have enemies from opposing elements, so the game never leaves you stranded without any actual option to defend yourself and lets you make the most of the assets available to you.
That said, while this entry into the ever expanding transmedia universe of League of Legends excels in combat, the narrative is exceedingly lackluster and contradicts already established canon. This is a problem with extended media for League of Legends in general, but it was a shame to see the same mistakes made in another one of of Riot Games’ Riot Forge projects. (This also is an issue in The Ruined King: A League of Legends Story.) Additionally, its portrayal of Sylas as a violent revolutionary tempered by the women around him begs the question as to what these characters serve in relation to the leading main character or his own motivations. It feels like wasted potential on behalf of Riot Games to introduce truly interesting new characters, but instead they’re relegated to providing character development for Sylas, who is already fleshed out in his own right. You’d also expect a little more bite from a game featuring a protagonist with such a heavy-handed allegory, given he literally beats his enemies to death with the very chains he was shackled with while kept in prison for some odd 15 years.
But I will give the developers credit for actively and passively pushing the message that revolutions do not happen on the back of a single person, but instead are achieved through a collective. One of the key components of The Mageseeker is the ability to recruit other mages on Sylas’ quest to dismantle the oppressive system set against Demacian mages. They can be taken into stages to provide Sylas with unique elemental passives. Additionally, recruiting more mages fills out your camp and player hub, which brings the gorgeously detailed area to life. The pixel art in the game is truly a treat, and perhaps one of the best aspects of the game in general.
The hub itself is also where players can upgrade Sylas’ passives, such as boosting his health, magic and physical damage, and mana. You can also talk to NPCs there to learn more about them and about the world of Runeterra for those unfamiliar with the setting or with League of Legends. That said, it isn’t a particularly great starting point for anyone unfamiliar with the lore, as it sets you in the middle of the mage uprising in Demacia, with only a few flashbacks fleshing out what caused these events to happen in the first place. Some of these flashbacks are, again, contradictory to what has already been established for Sylas in short stories. They feel more tied into the Lux and Katarina comic series, as opposed to the foundational lore present in League of Legends itself.
The Mageseeker: A League of Legends Story is a bite-sized adventure and decent enough 2D action game that will keep players entertained during its short playtime. While it isn’t overly mechanically complex, mastering its magic system is rewarding. However, those looking for a more substantial story which remains consistent with Riot Games’ previous lore concerning Sylas may feel a bit underwhelmed or disappointed.
The Mageseeker: A League of Legends Story is set to release on April 18, 2023 for the Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox and PC.