How Metroidvania is it? High Fit. The world is a bit disorganized, but besides that all of the Metroidvania tropes are there.
Primary Challenge: Ranged Combat
Time to beat: ~5 hours
Review Info: The Steam review code was provided by the developer through Curator Connect.
Buy Myastere -Ruins of Deazniff- if you like…
- Grappling Hooks
- Fun Localization Quirks
- Treasure Chest Hunting
- Archeological Adventures
- Campy Plotlines
▼ Review continues below ▼
I try not to put too much stake into first impressions. I’ve played plenty of games where my initial feelings were replaced by genuine admiration or love for the work. About thirty seconds into Myastere: Ruins of Deazniff however, my brain was saying “oh… oh no”, and it doesn’t get better. However I should say that this game isn’t necessarily bad either. The biggest problem with Myastere is that it has come out during a time where mediocrity is very easily skipped; there’s so much less time for it. It also has very few novelties to offer. While the ability to use a grappling hook on any object isn’t common, it’s also no longer unique. I also don’t think I have to say that “Metroidvania exploration” is no longer necessarily a selling point all by itself, especially when the mechanics surrounding it are so unpolished. One thing Myastere does have is a hilariously poor translation, but not everyone is going to find that as amusing as I did. Myastere:Ruins of Deazniff clearly has some effort put into it, but the sum of its parts end up being well below the average.
The first red flag I noticed jumping right into the game is just how broken the grappling hook mechanics felt. The initial pull of the grappling hook feels fine, but if you hold onto an object for more than a second everything falls apart. You start to flip around like the physics engine wasn’t prepared for any player trying to do such a thing, and from that point there’s basically nothing intentional that you can do. Contrast this with something like the Worms series or Castlevania IV, where attaching to an object lets you swing predictably back and forth until you release yourself for a well-controlled landing. Controlling your swing isn’t necessarily easy to pull off in these other games, but with some practice you can reasonably predict where you’re going to end up. In Myastere, while hanging onto an anchor point, you bounce around like your main character is actually a water balloon, and the liquids inside her are influencing the directions she swings as they slosh around. Actually it’s more like there’s a couple of angry weasels inside her, jumping to opposite sides of her chest cavity as they fight over who’s fault it was that she’s in the air in the first place. The grappling hook generally works better if you pretend you can’t hang onto things. The initial motion isn’t completely predictable, but at the very least you can try to correct your momentum with your mid air control without having to contend with sudden changes in your direction. I’d say that they shouldn’t have allowed you to cling to things in the first place, but there is the occasion where it is useful. Grappling onto walls is less wonky, and some bosses have attacks that in order to avoid them you must grapple onto something – and in those instances wildly swinging in place is less of an issue as long as it’s out of the way. Ultimately the physics with the grappling is just one more thing that makes the game feel more frustrating than it has to be. If you failed to predict how you should jump,the idea that you could swing around and correct your trajectory is always sitting in the back of your mind, and when the physics have other plans it’s easy to blame the game for your failures. Get the swing right the first time and it’s fine, even quite fun once you get used to it. The bigger problem here is that Myastere sets expectations it can’t fulfill.
In speaking of bigger problems, Myastere’s level design vast and unguided, which filled a quarter of my 4.5 hour playtime with wandering around trying to figure out where I was supposed to go. The usual tropes that apply to other Metroidvania games aren’t present here. I found cutscenes in areas regardless of whether I was supposed to be there, which made other cutscenes kind of hilarious from a presentation standpoint when I did find where I was supposed to go. The “right” way has a reveal that kicks off the main plot of the game and even includes some emboldening music to get you pumped, but I didn’t see this scene until after I had spent a good 20 minutes shooting cultists in suits of armor that belonged to an entirely different subplot. As it turns out though there is no “right” way, as Myastere’s Steam store page currently advertises that areas can be visited in any order for a new story experience each time you play. I’m not necessarily saying that it’s better if a game railroads you more, but if you are going to have a more open level design then you have to carefully consider how the player is going to be rewarded for their efforts. Just finding dead ends isn’t fun, and the longer you play with nothing interesting happening the more boring and/or frustrating the game feels. Myastere ultimately does reward checking every nook and cranny, but it does so in a way I would never recommend.
A lot of the gating in Myastere is accomplished with doors that have coin slots in them. Find the right coins and you get to pass. This is required to beat the game. You find these coins in any treasure chest. There are multiple types of chest you can find, but there doesn’t seem to be anything that indicates that a chest is going to have one of these coins. So basically any random chest could be exactly what you need to move forward. You can also find coins hidden in corners of the map, where you might see a bunch of sparkles glittering in the air. When you pass through these sparkles the coin appears. I don’t actually know whether the hidden coins are required or not because it’s really hard to tell which coins the gates actually need. The coins have symbols on them and they’re color coded, but since many of these coins are optional, it’s really difficult to keep track of them, especially since the symbols on the actual gate are very small. Not that it matters anyway, because knowing what the coin looks like doesn’t give you any hints on where it actually is. It’s possible that the game randomizes the coin locations – I don’t know because I haven’t tested it – but that would only exacerbate the issue that I’m trying to convey. It’s frustrating having to check everywhere you’ve already been just because you might have missed a chest that will allow you to continue on with the game – which is what I had to do at least a couple of times.
Like the grappling hook physics, combat is also extremely unpolished – partly because the grappling physics are involved. You can deal massive damage to enemies if you happen to grab them in the back, but your options for sneaking up on foes are pretty limited. For the most part you’ll just be shooting everything with your gun. The gun has limited ammo of multiple types, but one of the most popular drops in the game is bullet packs of 60 shots or more. I could talk a lot more about how poorly the ammo is handled, but that’s not as important as the basics like telegraphing or providing interesting challenges, which Myastere also has a lot of trouble with. The “stand and deliver” style of combat where you just fire shots until a thing stops moving is only engaging if there’s an imminent danger involved – such as a sturdy zombie slowly walking toward you with little space behind you to run. Since you can snipe most enemies from a safe distance, firing a dozen shots before a thing dies just gets old. If you’re not at a safe distance, you can usually grapple your way to that location pretty easily. The scrappy hit and run style could have been fun, but that would have required an attack that hits for more damage, and greater risks if you don’t keep your distance. Myastere’s style basically makes mundane things like bees the most dangerous thing in the game since they’re much harder to hit. You can grapple attack most bugs regardless of whether you get them in the back, but you’re more than likely to trade hits in the process. Any time you do take damage feels unfair in general, mostly because of conveyance issues. The end result is that I felt more dependent on random health drops than I did on my own skills.
Bosses are merely an extension of Myastere’s other problems. Some have their moments when they feel like a normal boss from any other game, but most of them have physics and conveyance issues that make fighting them feel more like a slot machine than a fun endeavor. Almost all of them have one or two attacks that make it easy to be trapped with nothing else you can do but take damage, at least until you’ve gained enough experience to know how to manipulate their AI. Conversely, there are many bosses where you can find blind spot in their pattern, and then just unload all of your ammo until they’re done. The final boss’ second phase was one of these fights – which I guess I shouldn’t complain about since failure in that instance would mean I’d have to fight the frustrating first phase all over again. That final boss is actually a great case study for many things you shouldn’t ever do when designing a boss. It could be a lot worse, but there are so many design pitfalls there that are at least worth studying. All of the bosses are at least doable – but part of that is because you might get lucky and find a few health drops along the way from the adds they summon. Needless to say, after playing the game on normal, I wouldn’t recommend playing Myastere on its higher difficulty level.
Myastere’s “story” is really the thing I’d recommend the most, but not because it’s good. In fact if you’re able to make heads or tails about what’s going on, Myastere is just an amalgamation of some pretty generic archeological adventure tropes. The thing that brings Myastere into epic territory is its frankly terrible localization. It’s even better if you understand at least a little bit of Japanese since the game is fully voiced. Aaurae will say a long sentence that might get a four word translation that generally gets the meaning out there, but not in a way that any English speaker would think to put it. My Steam screenshot folder is filled with many more linguistic gems besides the two I decided to include in this review. It’s just so bad it’s good. As someone who has endeavored to learn a second language, I fully understand the challenges involved with getting basic grammar right. I’m not making fun of whoever localized this game, but I do think the outcome is wonderfully cute.
I haven’t had a lot of positives things to say about Myastere: Ruins of Deazniff, but that’s mostly because anything positive it does is done better in some other game. Myastere could be a lot worse, but that’s also not exactly high praise. Its physics are wonky in a design environment where physics are crucial. The fill-em-with-lead gunplay contradicts your theoretically free movement capabilities. The bosses have critical conveyance issues, and end up as trial and error grindfests as a result. The more open exploration is poorly directed, resulting in more time spent scavenging for any treasures you failed to open rather than intelligently planning your route. Myastere is playable, but in today’s indie environment that’s just not good enough. There are some “so bad it’s good” elements to enjoy with its story, and it can be fun to master the grappling physics in spite of their limitations. In my opinion though those better elements aren’t good enough to surpass Myastare’s shortcomings. If you want a fun grappling hook focused Metroidvania game then I’d recommend Kunai or Environmental Station Alpha. If you want silly localization woes, then there are plenty of poorly translated Anime shows out there that don’t have frustrating boss fights to slog through. Myastere: Ruins of Deazniff isn’t bereft of talent or anything, but more than usual there are more better things you could be spending your time on.
Boss patterns range from really easy to exploit to poorly telegraphed and random, with only glimpses of really good boss design to be found
Platforming is thankfully not actually challenged often, since the grappling hook physics are at best wonky
Technically you're rewarded for checking every corner since even the most mundane looking collectable could be a required key to move forward. It's cool that finding artifacts gives you experience points, but the world itself is fairly uninteresting
There really aren't any puzzles in this game
The localization makes the story more entertaining than it otherwise would be
Static shots look fine, but like many polygonal 2D platformers movements are generally stiff and unnatural looking, with very little variety in the backgrounds
The soundtrack is appropriate if not a bit forgettable
There are multiple difficulty modes if you're really interested in how the game's mechanics work with adjusted values, but otherwise this is more of a completionist's game rather than a diverse playthrough game
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