Games of the Year

7 Mages

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The oppressed peasants on Roven Island hire seven mages to protect their homes and crops. The legendary Roven Island is said to be the place where the gods rested after they created the world. The earth, water and air there are still imbued with magic, which lures magic prospectors. These prospectors conduct savage raids at regular intervals on one of the unnamed villages on the island, robbing the hard-working peasants of most of their harvest. And so, one day, the peasants put together the last of their coin and hire the mages to protect them. The epic RPG 7 Mages in the tradition of the greatest classics of the genre takes you around the magical island of Roven. You will visit gloomy crypts beneath the city, cross an icy mountain pass, submerge beneath the surface of the ocean and venture into the guts of a dead dragon.
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Game Discussion

Review by Anonymous
Review from Steam

With the Yes/No system of Steam reviews I choose the "Yes" but with two big caveats:
1- The game at the release data is a direct port from mobile devices. Devs seems to be very responsive and eventually we will have a game with fully PC capabilities, but for now you will have some weird things like tutorial referring to drawing your fingers or tapping buttons.
2- This is a very puzzle oriented RPG. If you are not good at puzzles or don´t find them funny -as is my case- do not buy this game. The puzzles in 7 Mages are more about experimenting and looking carefully -as in classic adventure games- than resolving geometrical riddles or having good timing and reflexes, like LoG.
-Apart from this, you have a classical grid-based RPG with turn based combat. The combat has some innovative approach: you can split your team and distribute each mage tactically on different squares.
-All your 7 characters are Mages but this does not mean that they can not use a sword.
-Another good novelty is that you can directly move from the map to another square previously visited and not blocked.
-Beautiful graphics, better, to my tastes, than most grid based RPGs like LoG or M&M X.
To conclude, an eye-candy decent grid based RPG, very puzzle oriented, responsive devs and a lot of fixes pending.
If you like old school RPGs with turn based combat and grid based movement, I would try instead The Quest.
NB:
Sorry for my english. But, when the game is very niche, reviews in other languages than English are almost useless.

Review from Steam

7 Mages is a very old-school turn-based dungeon crawler with some innovative mechanics thrown in. There hasn't been a game quite like this in many years - since Wizardry 8 or maybe even David Bradley's last masterpiece Wizards&Warriors. And the good news is that 7 Mages lives up to its pedigree, featuring great level design with creative puzzles and interesting combat encounters. Despite being a mobile port the game is perfectly playable on PC even in its current state, and doesn't require too much tweaking to make it feel like a native PC title.
Some assorted impressions:
- Even though it's been optimized for mobiles, the game is beautiful - the art direction is top notch and each location feels very unique and atmospheric. It's already miles ahead of Might&Magic X in that department, and with all the graphical enhancements the PC version will eventually get it will rival Legend of Grimrock 2, and maybe even surpass it.
- The perspective doesn't change in combat, but in structure the game is closer to Goldbox games or Realms of Arkania than pure first-person RPGs like Wizardry. In combat each character is a separate entity, with their own action points pool and initiative rating. You can split the party out of combat too, and sometimes have to do so to solve certain puzzles.
- Speaking of puzzles, 7 Mages is extremely puzzle-heavy. If you hate puzzles in RPGs, this isn't the game for you. In its puzzle density it's close to Legend of Grimrock, but the approach to puzzle design is very different. Unlike Grimrock, where every puzzle is built from the same building blocks, in 7 Mages each dungeon features its own set of unique puzzle mechanics, and many of them are inventory-based like in Adventure games.
- Level design also influences combat mechanics: in one dungeon you can't wear armor, in another one you can't rest and have to keep your characters grouped together, yet another starts your party scattered around the levels etc. Enemies are also fairly varied and able to stun or poison you, summon help or avoid ranged attacks etc. My only gripes with combat is that each dungeon only features two enemy types (with one exception) and most of the time they are much fewer in numbers than your party.
- The game is very old-school in that there is no hand-holding. Don't expect quest compasses or NPCs helpfully giving out directions and puzzle hints. The game is also not afraid to let you screw up in various ways. Got locked in a dungeon level with no food? Well, tough luck, unlike Grimrock you don't find it lying around in the dungeon.
- You generally don't find a lot of things lying around in dungeons, most of loot comes from enemies and it's mostly only good for selling in the town. But you can't carry out too much, the inventory is extremely limited. Initially you only get a handful of slots, ater you can buy bags and chests that expand that space. Moreover, potions and food don't stack, and you always need space for quest items.
- The in-game economy works quite well: even if your characters have good Charisma, the prices for good items are quite high and you never run out of money sinks.
- Character system isn't terribly detailed, this isn't Wizardry. There are no races or classes, you get four main stats (improved on level-ups) and skills for each weapon type/magic school/musical instrument (improved with use). On the other hand, there is quite a bit of depth behind this simplicity. There are no dump stats and almost all kinds of builds could work if you know what you're doing. If you don't, however, it's quite easy to make your character severely underpowered.
- In the first half of the game the world is quite open, you can visit many areas right off the bat - provided you can survive them. The second half is strictly linear. There aren't any sidequests, but spells are often hidden off the main path, behind a difficult battle or puzzle.
- The starting town is fairly large but most of the buildings and NPCs are just props, you can't enter/talk to them. Most of the dialogs boil down to clicking the only availible options, when there are more it usually involves some sort of service (training etc) - but, well, it's a dungeon crawler, they aren't exactly known for deep dialogs. Some options are locked behind Charisma checks, others require having a certain character in your party.
- The dialog part brings out my main gripe with the game: the English translation is terrible, I do hope it gets redone for the final PC release. As is Russian one, but Russian game writing is always terrible, so there's no surprise in that. German one seems to fine however.
Bottom line: if you liked Grimrock titles, or older dungeon crawlers like Wizardry 6-8, or RPG/Adventure hybrids like Quest for Glory series, chances are you'll love 7 Mages. If you think that the main purpose of an RPG is to tell a story, you should stick to Bioware titles and JRPGs.

Review from Steam

Yesterday the "final PC version" has been released and 7 Mages left the EA on Steam. I am very disappointed with the PC release.
First disappointment - I expected a full PC game
The game never left Android! It's still wrapped in a clunky emulating software, it still looks like a mobile game and it still controls like a mobile game. The added support for keyboard isn't worth much, because the menu is still made for mobile phone. In terms of gameplay, you're actually better off controlling everything with your mouse, because it's faster and gives you an advantage vs. monsters. And I'm not mentioning bugs from using keyboard controls..
Second disappointment - the game gained crapload of lag
Installed size grew from about 200 MB to nearly 5 GB. The new shadows are nice, the sun reflections and heat effects are nice aswell - in your youtube video that is. But in reality, I cannot enjoy these new effects, because the game runs at crappy 10 FPS on a "Recommended" PC specs! Even if I lower the graphic settings, I still cannot reach 60 FPS and the game is choppy when you move or fight. So no thanks, keep ur shadows and give me back the mobile port with fluid gameplay.
---------- Early Access Review below ----------
7 Mages is a dungeon crawler RPG game with turn-based combat
Some Czech players will surely recognize the story and setting from an old DOS title called Gates of Skeldal from the same authors. This game definitely takes a thing or two from its older brother and improves the features for the current gaming community. This includes, but is not limited to:
+ Wonderful graphics
+ Combat system
+ Interaction with the environment
+ Thoughtful puzzles
+ Character progression
+ Great soundtrack (instruments required!)
One thing I really like about 7 Mages is the freedom of your character progression
While you only get to create your own avatar and the remaining 6 party members come with pre-defined statistics, there are options to remodel them to a different path in a timely fashion. For example, you can make your 7 Mages into Strength-heavy armored melee-only group and actually make it work. Or a no-weapon only caster group. And either path can complete the game.
Another great addition for me was the introduction of music as a form of combat
You can equip your characters with actual instruments and use them at any point during your gameplay to gain various benefits like healing or mana regeneration, useful buffs like speed or extra XP gain and the game even lets you manipulate your enemies, for example there's a song that will make enemies afraid to walk into melee range, another song will make you always go first in the turn-based combat.
Combined with the different elemental spells and weapons, it brings lots of variation and offers the player a multitude of choices on how to play the game, as well as providing great grounds for replayability with self-imposed rules for hardcore players
Also the music that your characters actually play is really nice and the more instruments you put into a song, the better it sounds.
The difficulty of the puzzles is well balanced
There are buttons, levers, trapdoors, teleports but also not so general stuff like making a temporary bridge out of lily pads to cross a swamp or redirecting the flow of the wind with statues to prevent it pushing you down from a mountain ledge. There is also a lot of interaction between stuff, like using a shield to redirect a beam of light or shooting a cannon to remove a thunderstorm. If you get stuck, there's a spell that gives you hints. I got stuck only twice on puzzles during my playthrough, first time I missed a teleport hidden inside a destroyable tree and second time I kept going in circles inside a teleport labyrinth, but after I drew a map I was able to make it work. And if you really get stuck after the hints, there's always the option to ask others for help.
Now for some negatives.
7 Mages lacks in the story department
Don't get me wrong, the story is decent, but compared to Gates of Skeldal, the dialogues are very straightforward, there is usually no choice in a story-related dialogue. Also there are no out-of-story moments, no sidequests and no ability to chat with random NPCs or between party members. For example, Gates of Skeldal had the option to talk with the Librarian or the Priest in town to gain some insight into the game lore and even these unimportant NPC conversations had dialogue options with consequences (angering the Priest by insulting his gods). You also had option to refuse party members as you go, which is not possible here. Considering that the 7 Mages are random people who grouped together for a common goal, some witty or sharp-tongued dialogues between them could be fun and I would definitely welcome those. I believe that's a missed opportunity in 7 Mages.
At times, the dialogues are weird
..well, if you consider the emoticon of a Fireball between sentences weird. Smilies are also included in the main storyline dialogues and to top it off, some lines didn't even make much sense and you have to consult your Log book to make more sense of it. I played the game in Czech as well as switching into English and it seems the translation is not at fault. Luckily, these will only affect your immersion, but not the actual gameplay.
The combat is easy
The difficulty of combat is rather easy (I played the highest difficulty, mind you). I often ran into situations where the enemy couldn't deal a single point of damage to me. The game gives you a sort-of combat check in the form of a Troll quite early on (can be seen in the video on Steam store). If you can deal with the Troll without looking at guides, you will probably be able to handle any combat situation in the game. Luckily, the change of pace between combat and puzzles alleviates this issue.
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A final note about the controls - it might feel a little clunky due to the fact that Early Access version is a mobile port, therefore some actions require you to hold your mouse button pushed and involve some portrait juggling for party management, but those issues will be gone when a full PC version comes out.
All in all, I will definitely recommend the game to anyone who likes dungeon crawling, puzzles or turn-based combat. Buy it and enjoy it, it's worth the money. Plus, you get a full fledged PC version later when it comes out.

Review from Steam

Review :
One of the rare dungeon crawlers I couldn't finish (and I beat Ruzar & Heroes of the Monkey Tavern which are both severely lacking in their own way), but if you're a DC fan, I think you should still check it out. This game offers some fresh & original ideas, which are unfortunately generally badly executed. So if you want to be surprised more than enjoying a well tuned gameplay, you may have a nice time with it.
Here a few of examples of the bad execution :
- after the 1st level, you get to a city and you are free to choose between going to the swamp (whose location is obscure and whose path is guarded by an overpowered troll that needs exploit-like action to be beaten even at medium difficulty if you hadn't picked the correct setup for your 1st mage), and embarking in a ship. The ship seems to be the obvious choice as it's easy to get in there. It is however much much harder than the swamp (I couldn't kill the 1st mob with the only mage I had control of). The walktrough (by the game author?) here
- so to finish the swamp, you have to find a teleporter hidden in a tree which is on the side of your path, alongside dozen of other trees. There's no particular reason to check that particular tree among all the other ones you'll meet in the swamp, so even if from close you can easily see the teleporter inside it, there's a big chance you'll never notice it.
- most of the combats can be done from a distance, throwing fireballs at unresponsive enemies ; and if you want to fight normally the necromancers of the swamp, they'll spawn an infinite amounts of skeletons raising the combat difficulty from ridiculously too easy to extremely painfully hard
- the way to beat the Troll is to step back as soon as you don't have enough mana anymore to cast the spell to block him ; he won't follow you, but instead he'll go back under his bridge. You can then sleep to regenerate your HP & mana, while the Troll doesn't. And you can't know he doesn't get his HP back, because he doesn't have an HP bar. F*cking great
Pros :
- Nice & varied scenery
- It's possible to split your group (which can lead to pretty confusing situation and puzzles built around that possibility >_< )
Cons :
- Combat from a distance is fast & easy and in realtime, and close combat is slow & painful (but not really hard) and turn by turn
- Combat is already cumbersome with 2 mages, I can't imagine how it'd be with 7 >_<
- Horrible camera effect when turning ; for the 1st time of my life, I have been seasick while playing a game :-|
- The dialogues are a constant puerile pun fight that never ends ; it's like all the characters are trying to be Batman's Joker but all fail miserably
- You are regularly thrown into unclear puzzles, with nothing teaching you the different possibilities to solve them, and without textual nor environmental nor mechanical hint
- Bartering prices depend of your current character charisma instead of your best character charisma, which leads to unnecessary extra clicking
- The game is a mobile port and it really feels on the interface and some gameplay elements which should be clearly not like they are now if they were correctly thought for mouse + keyboard controls ; eg : Escape doesn't open the system menu ; can't turn using keys during a fight (you have to click & drag with the mouse instead) ; there's no tooltip, so you have to guess what are the spells by checking their description in your spellbook and looking at their icons in your spellbar ; etc., etc...
- Starving kills you pretty fast ; you can get on the ship without buying food and there's no food on the ship ; prepare to die with no chance of survival. And in a general way, it means if you want to double-check you didn't miss anything or looking your way (or try to find that nearly invisible mandatory thing you had missed), you're going to have issue with your food provisioning

Review from Steam

Edit: Please read the comments below and check out Whiteswart's personal review on this game. His review was published when the game was well released from its very Early Access period when I played and reviewed the game. He also spent 15 times the time that I did in the game and likely (?) completed the entire game.
7 Mages is Napoleon Games debut game on Steam. It’s an old school dungeon crawler that was first released for mobile devices but fans of the game took such a liking to it that they literally demanded that the developers port the game over and onto PC and thus we have arrived at the early access. Napoleon Games was founded way back in 1994 and is based in the Czech Republic. They currently have two other games on iOS and Android in The Gates of Skeldal and Fish Odyssey which appears to be a basic type of runner or lane racing game.
It’s going to be more than a little difficult for people not to make comparisons to Legends of Grimrock given that the two games look so similar in appearance. However, don’t let that be considered a disappointment as the game looks like it could be very promising. It’s not without its faults but those faults are somewhat acceptable given that the title just entered early access and I believe that the developers are working hard to improve the game and to have it realize its potential.
Whenever a developer states in their description that the game was originally developed for mobile I worry that either the port is poor or that not all of the mobile interface has been removed from the game. In this case, the port thus far the game runs smoothly and I have no qualms in that respect but the devs really do need to replace the mobile interface especially throughout the game’s tutorial. I have not played the mobile version of the game but I imagine that the majority – if not all – of the commands haven’t been stripped out or modified yet. There are still commands telling you to swipe down on your screen, etc. While yes there are touchscreen monitors they’re not common enough that a game would have dedicated commands for them that override regular keyboard and mouse commands. Some of these commands do not have keyboard equivalent commands – or at least I have yet to find them – such as crouch.
A continuation of this is that there aren’t any quick key bindings for things such as ‘m’ to bring up the map or ‘i’ to bring up the inventory. To enter these you have to click on the on screen button. A further problem is that some of the interface isn’t always readily on the screen likely to avoid clutter on the mobile version of the game. One of these things is the spell menu. While an interface similar to the ones used in RPGs would be perfect for PC the game currently lacks this interface. This is more than a mild annoyance given how much mobile stuff remains in the game and I believe should have been easily enough to add to the game before releasing the early access game onto Steam but I imagine – and hope – that it will come in time. It truly is holding the game back on PC.
I would argue that the tutorial either doesn’t teach you enough or that the interface shouldn’t be completely revealed the moment you enter gameplay. For example, there is a lot of space for spells that probably doesn’t need to be there as it can be more than a little confusing for a beginning player. Little improvements and thoughts along those lines would do wonders for the game’s accessibility.
There are a couple of minor translation issues but nothing that isn’t able to be overlooked. The strengths of the game are already visible and they truly are the most important components of the game because what I have discovered to be its weaknesses are things that can all be vastly improved throughout the game’s development. For now I quite enjoyed the art work – the visuals are quite reasonable for a game of this genre and really do aide the immersion of the game. It is clear that the developers have an understanding of the art of storytelling. What there is of story keeps you wanting to play further into the game although apparently – I’ve never played it – it isn’t as developed as the Gates of Skeldal. I’m also a big fan of the combat system. Although fights are fairly straight forward and simple – to the point that I’ve played – the implementation of music (think something along the lines of Bard’s Tale) into the combat system is well executed. I would like the game to be a little more difficult but that may also come in time. Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t state that I found the puzzles also to be very well rounded and the execution intelligent in design.
There’s a lot to like here. It’s going to be a beauty when it’s completed and I hope that aside from making the interface and key changes that they do fully flesh out the story. I’d also advise to improve the translation and to smarten up the writing. The use of emoticons and a more professional translation would work wonders for the development of the game. But I imagine that when 7 Mages is released out of early access that it has a chance to be among the very best dungeon crawlers on Steam. A firm recommendation for fans of the genre.
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Review from Steam

Excellent and innovative "old-school" type CRPG. Has outdoor exploration, a bunch of unique dungeons, 6 mages to collect + yourself and more. Very good stuff.

Review from Steam

The gameplay is vastly better than most other first person party-based RPGs to have come out in recent years. It's quite fun and the puzzles are actually enjoyable. There's some innovation going on here as well, what with the ability to split up your party.
I have one gripe, and that's with the writing. It's bad. Like so bad. It's like a 12-year-old who was doing his aboslute best to be edgy wrote this crap. It barely makes any sense. At one point your main character actually sexually harasses a woman until your friend Dog (yes, that's his actual name) tells you it's inappropriate. At which point you start to insult her. For like a full minute. Because you want her to be your friend. And that's just an example of the writing when it's intelligible.
The writing is so bad it actually almost made me want to ask for a refund, but the gameplay is actually good enough to make me want to keep playing. I mostly just ignore the writing now.
tl;dr amazing gameplay but they hired a brain damaged chimp to do the writing

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