If you want to play a game that combines the best traits from Metroidvanias, Soulslikes, classic RPGs, and narrative-driven games, then you may want to keep an eye out for Mandragora. The game is still in development by Primal Game Studio, an indie developer in Budapest, Hungary, but their recent Kickstarter has sparked interest among indie games fans. According to the successful Kickstarter page and a new interview with The Escapist Magazine, Mandragora takes the best elements of fan-favorite games and has created something new from them. So what can you expect?
Gorgeous art. Inspired by Ori and the Will of the Wisps, the art style is haunting and like something straight out of a fairytale. The 2.5D level setup may mean that the game is mostly side-scrolling, but this doesn’t hinder the design of the settings and characters with a unique painted quality to them. While Ori and the Will of the Wisps was a major influence, it was a trip to Ireland that began the idea for the game’s dark fantasy look. Twisting trees in dark forests, crumbling castles and churches, and windswept rolling hills invoke mental images of the folktales that came from this setting, and their influence is strongly felt in Mandragora.
Multi-level setting. First and foremost, this is a Metroidvania game. “There is a huge, interconnected 2.5D world with non-linearity and utility-gated exploration.” Inspired by a love of exploration in the original Castlevania games, this game will have that same feel but with Primal Game Studio’s signature art style. There is also the edition of Entropy levels where gameplay and visuals follow a new set of rules.
Challenging combat. Taking the combat style of Dark Souls and tweaking it for 2D gives players the chance to connect with their character while playing. Instead of button smashing to move quickly through hordes of faceless enemies, the combat will be slow and tactical. “It is based on enemy patterns, combos, and timing, which, once learned, becomes much easier to handle.” Referencing back to the beautiful design of the game, the enemies in Mandragora look so cool! There’s a giant wold and a large bat-like monster that stand out as lovely Gothic monsters to study and defeat. With that said, there are certain levels that will bring hordes, but most levels will be about understanding the enemy and the controls. There are 10 bosses and 5 mini-bosses, so there are plenty of opportunities.
Character classes and talent trees. There are six playable character classes, each with two sub-classes that are based on which way you lean on the talent tree for each character. This customization is pulled directly from classic RPGs that give players a sense of individuality in the gameplay. Play as a Vanguard, Spellbinder, Larcenist, Heretic, Warden, or Inquisitor, and see what kind of magic and mayhem you can use with multiple playthroughs.
Great storytelling. Mandragora pulls inspiration from The Witcher 3 in this category. “There are dozens of NPCs, primary and secondary quests, moral choices, and different endings. All this with high-quality voiceover work to further help the immersion.” So not only will you have multiple classes and sub-classes to make each play through unique, but you’ll also have different choices and endings to work through. It looks like the game is setting itself up to be played over and over again in the best way.
The Kickstarter campaign is now over, but it was hugely successful. Not only did the studio of 25 people meet their minimum goal, but they also exceeded every goal set for the game. With a total of 5,220 backers, the game raised $276,742, which is even more than their $275,000 “Bonus area with additional boss encounter” goal. It appears that the team is fully funded now and ready to bring this game to life. It will be available for the PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X|S in the future, but there is no announced release date at the moment. It is available on Steam to put on your wishlist for updates though!