A Mystical Land Preview: Let's Get Social
Neil Kewn (Murxidon) - OnRPG Journalist
A Mystical Land is an upcoming browser-based RPG from Neonga AG. Entirely 3D, the game promises to offer a complete RPG experience mixed with social elements. In addition to the standard levelling and questing that graces most role-playing titles, integration with Facebook and other social networks means it's easier to find friends, share messages and update statuses.
Interesting in theory, but how does it work in practice?
After a short and limited character creation process you are dropped into Oak Valley, a starting area that comprehensively teaches you everything there is to know. Through a series of quests you are taught how to cook, craft, gather and fight. There's a surprising amount you can actually do in "A Mystical Land", from fishing to blacksmithing. These professions are all compiled in the Knowledge Book along with the game's many recipes. There are four classes to choose from (Warrior, Wizard, Hunter and Priest), and although they're pretty standard archetypes for the genre, each has its own distinctive role.
Combat is the standard affair. Clicking on an enemy will initiate a battle, whilst an action bar at the bottom of the screen lists spells, abilities and feats that can be used to defeat them more quickly. The controls are also very traditional, and will be familiar to anyone who has played a MMORPG before. Completing quests and winning in battle results in experience, and upon levelling up, you are rewarded with combo points that can be spent on unlocking or upgrading class-specific talents.
Neonga AG has implemented an Item Shop to fund development. Crowns are the in-game currency of choice and are purchased with real-world cash. They can be spent on a variety of character enhancements and special items (although admittedly the store is a little sparse right now). Actions like gathering and crafting deplete a characters energy bar, and it's likely that the impatient will choose to purchase energy as opposed to waiting for it to recharge slowly. Besides that, free players aren't particularly impaired by its presence.
A MysticalLand's visual quality is extremely impressive - if your system can handle it. Texture work and character models are sublime for a browser game, but that rarely translates into good performance. Even players with modest systems will have to turn down settings to obtain a playable frame rate, a problem made worse in areas with high population. I hope they can improve this drastically before the game leaves beta.
A Mystical Land is clearly aimed towards the casual end of the market. It should not be confused with a "My First MMO" for Facebook fans though. It is a full-featured, familiar RPG that both looks good and plays well. It remains to be seen how far the social mechanics impact the game experience, but there is enough potential here to entice both fans of the genre and newcomers. Overlooking the performance hiccups, A Mystical Land is shaping up to be something I would post on my facebook wall and not feel embarrassed about.