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The Mageseeker: A League of Legends Story review: the best case for Riot Forge yet

mageseeker review league of legends spinoff the a story garen and sylas fight
The Mageseeker: A League of Legends Story
MSRP $30.00
“The Mageseeker: A League of Legends Story is an exhilarating action title that you don't need to be a League fan to enjoy.”
  • Compelling protagonist
  • Nuanced narrative
  • Dynamic combat
  • Rewarding progression
  • Slow start
  • Weak side-missions

I don’t actively play League of Legends, but I love exploring the world of Runeterra through ancillary games and media like Legends of Runeterra, Hextech Mayhem, Arcane, and even books like Realms of Runeterra. The amount of lore packed into the series rivals that of universes like Warhammer 40K, Marvel, or DC. This all went relatively untapped until the last couple of years, though, when Riot Games made a concerted effort to establish the Riot Forge publishing label focused on indie games set in its universe, which has just yielded its best result yet with The Mageseeker: A League of Legends Story.

The small-scale project, developed by Moonlighter studio Digital Sun Games, is a retro-style action game following the journey of Sylas. He’s a League of Legends champion that was imprisoned for years in the mage-hating Kingdom of Demacia but eventually breaks free and begins a pro-mage revolution. That journey plays out across an intense action game where Sylas uses the chains that once held him to steal magic from his enemies, traverse the environment around him, and build up a rebellion through its narrative and gameplay.

While it’s slow to start, The Mageseeker is an excellent action game I’d highly recommend to those who enjoyed titles like Hades. What’s more exciting, though, is how it allows newcomers to learn about Runeterra without committing to learning a competitive MOBA.

Break the chains

The story of Sylas is a tragic one. He was a child separated from his family due to his ability to sense other people’s magic and was recruited to the Mageseeker organization. There, traitor mages under orders from the Demacian Royal Family hunt down other mages, all of whom are wrongly outlawed within the Kingdom. Sylas was locked up for 15 years after an accident but broke free after stealing the magic of one of his closest friends. After breaking free, he is eventually recruited to a rebellion by a spunky mage named Leilani.

The Mageseeker affirms that many more champions could benefit from an in-depth treatment through avenues like Riot Forge.

The Mageseeker transforms all this backstory — once just lore that hardcore League fans would have to go digging to find — into an emotionally compelling narrative. Sylas is an excellent anti-hero character, not only because he has a memorable design and charmingly gruff personality, but because he grows over the course of the adventure. He’s mean, cruel, and vengeful when he breaks out of prison. That one-mindedness does help give him the power and drive to complete his adventure, but it’s also a weakness that gets him in unfavorable situations.

Over the course of the story, Sylas learns to open up to those around him and learns that while feelings of rage and vengeance can start a rebellion, hope is what sustains it. The lore can be a little overwhelming at first, but as the writing hones in on certain characters and the allegorical disdain for real-world bigotry, The Mageseeker’s narrative only gets more engaging.

A conversation at The Hideout in The Mageseeker: A League of Legends Story.

As this is a linear, story-based action game, a lot of pressure is placed on the writing and characters so that the adventure maintains meaningful stakes. Fortunately, Digital Sun Games succeeded and had great material to work with to do so. Arcane succeeded in humanizing Jinx, one of League of Legends’ wackier characters, and now The Mageseeker affirms that many more champions could benefit from an in-depth treatment through avenues like Riot Forge.

Getting exponentially better

While the narrative is a significant component of The Mageseeker, most of its playtime is spent taking on hordes of enemy creatures and Mageseekers as Sylas. You don’t need to know how to play as Sylas in League of Legends to pick up this game, though. Every title from Riot Forge has been different, drawing on different genres to suit its characters’ styles. Hextech Mayhem is a rhythm game and Ruined King is a turn-based RPG. The Mageseeker is an isometric action game with combat reminiscent of Supermassive Games’ fantastic Hades, which makes sense for the character.

The Mageseeker isn’t a roguelike, though: It’s a linear level-based action adventure that draws on classic The Legend of Zelda games. Sylas explores colorful locales around Demacia, using his chains to clear large gaps, find hidden collectibles strewn about, and eventually use them in combat to steal spells from enemies.

Sylas steals an enemies powers in The Mageseeker: A League of Legends Story.

At first, The Mageseeker can feel a little basic to a fault. Fighting enemies with light and heavy attacks while exploring fairly linear levels feels generic at first. Coupled with the start-of-the-game lore drop, it might not immediately grab players — especially those unfamiliar with the world of Runeterra. But give it a few hours and its mechanics will exponentially compound into something approachable as Sylas’ rebellion grows.

My personal skills naturally sharpened over time, but the magic system deepens alongside that curve. At a base level, Sylas can use his chains to copy the abilities of any magical enemy he encounters. The magic he obtains falls into one of six elemental types, each of which is strong against an opposing kind of magic and weak against itself. For example, fire is strong against ice, and ice is strong against fire. Embracing this system is a vital part of what makes The Mageseeker’s fights dynamic, whether fighting a group of basic enemies or one of the game’s many spectacular boss fights against a recognizable Demacian League of Legends character.

 Anytime I successfully created an advantageous magic loadout based on enemy outlook, I felt powerful and clever.

The more varied the enemy encounter, the more types of elemental magic Sylas will ultimately have at his disposal. Once he copies a magical ability, he can learn it permanently at the rebellion’s Hideout and eventually bring four spells into battle after some upgrades. Sylas will also meet Outlaws tied to each element during his journey and can bring two of them into a level with him for extra combos of their element type. Eventually, Sylas also gains access to powerful Unchained attacks that he can use once after a long charge for a powerful attack.

Anytime I successfully created an advantageous magic loadout based on enemy outlook, I felt powerful and clever. It adds a level of replay value to the experience too and pairs well with that rewarding narrative arc that comes with watching Leilani and Sylas’ rebellion grow.

The Rebellion grows

Sylas’ efforts to grow the rebellion not only become more narratively engaging over time, but also create satisfying gameplay progression in a way that feels like it’s tied to the player’s actions. The Hideout becomes more bustling, and more shops open up. In turn, players can purchase new spells to add to their loadout, increase the power and number of healing potions at their disposal, and increase Sylas’ stats. In levels and assignments that Outlaws can be sent on, players will occasionally come across Mages who want to join the rebellion.

The Mageseeker scratches a familiar Hades itch.

When this happens, they join an Outlaw’s set of forces. As each Outlaw is assigned more and more mages, there are worthwhile rewards, like visual and stock upgrades to Vendors as well as power boosts to the Outlaw’s corresponding element and the special combos they give Sylas when tagging along on a mission. That means there are both visual and gameplay-changing rewards for successfully progressing through The Mageseeker, so the game can capture that feeling of being in a rebellion that’s only getting stronger as more people believe in its message and fight for the cause.

The Mageseeker doesn’t radically reinvent the action game genre, but it shines thanks to satisfying progression. That’s why including a Perk system in a couple of side missions, where Sylas can find a level-specific spell with an exclusive buff, feels a bit out of place and confusing. In general, the side missions didn’t feel worth completing unless I wanted to gain more supplies to spend at vendors.

Sylas fights Shyvana in The Mageseeker: A League of Legends Story.

Despite those out-of-place features and its slow start, The Mageseeker scratches a familiar Hades itch. It allowed me to enjoy the primary campaign and the uniquely satisfying sense of progression that comes with it. It does that while capturing the exponential growth of a fiery rebellion well and compellingly tells of the tough tribulations that can come along that journey.

The fact that it pulls all that off while utilizing a notable franchise’s characters and stories without losing that ambitious indie game feeling is impressive. Whether you’ve put thousands of hours in League of Legends, only engage with ancillary material like me, or have never experienced anything set in Runeterra before, there’s a good chance you’ll find something enjoyable in The Mageseeker. It sets a standard I hope future games from Riot Forge can meet.

The Mageseeker: A League of Legends Story was reviewed on Xbox Series X.

Editors' Recommendations

Tomas Franzese
Gaming Staff Writer
Tomas Franzese is a Staff Writer at Digital Trends, where he reports on and reviews the latest releases and exciting…
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