A gamer and writer at heart who wants to combine his hobbies into one. I am 25 years old and I'm from the Netherlands. Having played many games over the years, I wanted to express my love for them, however obscure they may be!
Hello all, and welcome to a very special article! I have been writing on the Nepiki Gaming site for quite a few years now, just casually writing about games I love–or in some cases, unfortunately don’t love. During this period, I have been approached by game developers and publishers alike, asking if I was interested in covering their game on this website. I unfortunately had to reject a few, mostly due to time constraints or due to it not feeling like a game that would fit my tastes. After all, I want to cover as many games as possible, but in an objective- and respectful manner. But now, an offer arrived in my mailbox that I simply couldn’t resist, and that would make for a perfect first promotion: a golf-like puzzle-platformer called Mage Drops.
Like, this was a game that hooked me already with its description pretty quickly. And how could I not, when the premise is a 2D Platformer with golf mechanics? Add to that a mystical theme with magic- and myths, and you don’t have to do much else to sell ol’ Nep over here.
Of course, as with every promotion, the usual disclaimer applies: while a code has been provided to me, I have been given complete freedom in what I want- and don’t want to write. All of the opinions down below are therefore my own, and I strive to be as objective as possible. All positivity I have is very genuine, but that should make sense given that the promotions I accept are also games that I am really interested in and want to get known to the public.
So first of all, let me get you up to date with everything Mage Drops related first. The game is currently in Early Access on Steam, and there is also a demo available to try out. This demo covers the basics, as well as the first out of a total of eight worlds. The Early Access version currently has seven worlds available. The full release date is tentative, with early 2022 being an estimation. The key differences between Early Access and the full release will be both an improved soundtrack, as well as a complete story. For my first impressions, I’m mostly going to cover what is currently available in the demo, while also sharing a few teasers that are currently available in the Early Access build.
Mage Drops, aside from being about golf combined with platforming, is also advertised as a challenging physics-based platformer, and nothing about that is a lie. It can get genuinely difficult because you don’t only have to deal with physics, but you also need to reach the hole within a few shots. But don’t let this scare you off, as the game is very accessible. Not only can you select between multiple difficulties that change the number of shots needed to finish a level or even add completely new paths, but also enable ”tourist mode” that gets rid of the required number of shots altogether. And so far, there don’t seem to be any punishments for your choices so if the game gets too tough, don’t let it stop you!
Let me actually emphasise on the difficulty further. I mentioned that by not enabling tourist mode, you would have to finish the stage in less than a specified amount of shots, but that’s technically not true. You would have to finish the stage within that amount if you want the gold medal. So far, gold medals (or any medal for that matter) look to be completely optional. And personally, I consider that to be a good thing considering how the game is set up.
Mage Drops‘ level design wants you not to just finish the level and move on with your day, but explore it and be encouraged to find the most efficient path to the goal. While you may have no issues getting a par on easy mode if you take the most obvious way, hard mode encourages you to either perfect that path or take a completely different one that you may have not even thought of. Furthermore, there are collectables to find in the levels that will eventually have more meaning further down the game.
For now, I want to talk about the tutorial, cleverly named the preliminaries. This course consists of a total of 9 levels, each individually teaching you about all of the mechanics. Shooting the ball is first of course, and it’s fairly easy to get the hang of. There’s a prediction line giving you a rough indication of the angle the ball will be shot in and where it will land. But since we are playing a game where magic is also prevalent, there is some slight manipulation that can be done to the ball, like adjusting the speed- or falling down like a rock. Due to this manipulation aspect, the platforming actually feels pretty good to do.
And that’s basically all there is to the controls! There are multiple camera options to look around and also a quick revive button to start again, and that’s all you need to know. As mentioned before, the level design here is what makes or breaks the game, and especially the big number of different stage-specific gimmicks. These are also shown in the tutorial, with water bubbles to bounce off of and the ability to rotate wooden planks and grow trees to use as platforms.
The first official course keeps this trend going by introducing more- and bigger levels, old- and new gimmicks like conveyor belts and one-way see-through walls, and the collectables that I mentioned earlier. The difficulty is definitely increased over the tutorial but like I said, the accessibility options do enough to remedy this. After this world, the demo ends. Now for me, I also wanted to keep it mostly to the first world as I definitely have the intention to revisit this game when it goes out of early access. That said, I did make it through the second world and parts of the third world just so I can give you a slight teaser of what you can expect from the full version. *ahem*:
”Venture into the forgotten depths of Atlantis and test your skills in underwater golfing, going along with the currents while adjusting yourself to this whole new set of gravitational mechanics. Then, explore long-forgotten ruins from an ancient war, and use the cannons to your advantage to make it through. Many more dangers will be awaiting you… but are your skills up to the test?”
That sounded epic, didn’t it? Anyhow, I hope I’ve been able to give you a good impression of the game so far. To close off, I wanted to list some feedback points I have about the current Early Access version. These may very well be fixed by the time the game leaves Early Access (or are already on the to-do list) and if they are, I’ll be sure to let you know when the time comes.
- The most important feedback point for me personally is the ability to distinguish levels from each other, and to show how many collectables there are in each level and how many you’ve collected already. Something like a name for a level (puns always work!) on the very start, and a level select screen that shows said names, the collectables, fastest time etc.
- When not playing on Tourist Mode, I noticed that there was a time bonus. I unfortunately couldn’t really figure out how this worked, or what influence it had. Building off of that, maybe a timer would be nice!
- When playing with Keyboard and Mouse, which is most likely going to be my preferred input method, I would probably like to see a window for what inputs are available, or one that can easily pop up. This is probably an issue only for me, but I’ll most likely forget what the free camera button is if I haven’t played in a few hours.
And that’s all from me! I am definitely looking forward to the final release, as this feels like something I’ve genuinely never played before. To keep up to date with everything Mage Drops related, you can wishlist the game on Steam, and follow Orchid of Redemption or myself on Twitter. When the release date is in sight and nothing out of the ordinary happens, you can also expect full coverage of the game here on the site, as well as watching me stream the game on Twitch. And as always, thank you so much to the developers for giving me this chance to promote a game that I feel positive about. See you next time!