Pretty quick review for this one. Mahou Arms is a beat-em-up that is very early in Early Access. There are two story levels available, and one playable character with a single weapon: the scythe. I think there’s potential after some quality of life changes or more player aids such as a command list (based on update blogs, these changes are being acknowledged and will be implemented as the system mechanics become more stable). Enemy variation is very low as of writing, and made combat become pretty tedious after figuring out the same dash attack to launcher to knockdown optimal combo. Update: So progress has been made to improve the enemy behavior, and to clean up the movement and dodging. The sound design was also made a bit crisper, but I would still not recommend picking it up until perhaps closer to the end of the year depending on how progress is made.
Mahou Arms in its current form features two missions and quick training arena level. The missions are laid out with light storytelling comic spreads to start off the level. Once you get control of your character, maps are relatively confined with slight deviations from the established path occasionally rewarding exploration. Gameplay feels like a mix of Musou games (Dynasty warriors with tons of enemies surrounding you) and Devil May Cry combo trees. As of now, you only have access to a character with a scythe, and combos are limited to combinations of light and heavy clicks, along with off the ground aerial raves/launcher into meteor drops. The combat system has just enough there to keep you entertained, but player progression is nonexistent at this time, and there aren’t enough enemy types to break the eventual ennui. The game provides a good amount of healing items to sustain yourself, although supplying up during the course of a mission was scarce. In this way, the game really challenges you to reach every new checkpoint marker. It was extremely frustrating because the sheer enemy density and slightly unresponsive dodging can make taking potshots commonplace. Often I found myself, when in a pinch, spamming the jumping finisher or dash attack to corner enemies and never let them attack. Lower difficulty settings alleviate this, but from my experience, most gamers who would gravitate towards Mahou Arms are likely much more gluttons for punishment. It’s doubtful that the highest difficulty, Nightmare, will even satisfy them, although the updated AI behavior does pay dividends so I’m not sure. The lower difficulty made enemies a bit too mindless and defenseless for my liking, so you may feel like you have to settle for slightly underhanded tactics to survive the higher difficulty “as it was intended”. The developers are also actively improving the balance in this department, so I feel hopeful in those regards. Apparently, the game is also going to include adult content and dating sim elements, but none of that is evident in the current build of the game aside from the default relatively skimpy clothing.
I admire the work the developers are putting towards crafting a game as ambitious as this, but I feel compelled to mention some of the shortcomings to fans of the genre who may see this as an instant Early Access purchase. I would recommend wishlisting it at the very least, but it’s difficult at this time to wholeheartedly vet Mahou Arms in its current state. It took me a while to feel comfortable having enough content to warrant this review, so I may update it yet again if substantial additions sway me one way or the other.
Mahou Arms is developed by Dischan Media.
Early Access available on Steam for $29.99.
A review copy of the game was provided by the devs.
Hellfirebam has not awarded Mahou Arms the Indie Gamer Seal of Approval. I think one more major update would push me over the edge, and I like the direction they are taking.