Mythforce, a new roguelite inspired by fantasy cartoons from the 80s, almost looks like the setup of a joke. Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One: A Knight, Thief, Mage, and Ranger enter a dungeon. Then they all die because they ran out of stamina.
There are two types of clashing video games in Mythforce: one is an action-packed dungeon crawler where you kill dozens of enemies while chatting with your co-op crew, the other is a deliberate, slow-paced combat that demands precise sword swings and dodging. stay alive for more than a few minutes. I’m up for either approach, but the former seems more in line with Mythforce’s cartoony tone and multiplayer roguelite structure. It might be too hard for a stray step in front of a fire-breathing statue to burn half my health when healing potions are apparently the rarest commodity in this fantasy world.
I was surprised at the weight Mythforce puts behind its first-person sword swings when I held down the mouse button for a charged strike. It looks a bit like Vermintide in those moments, which I mean as a compliment. But here, being hit by enemies only a few times meant big trouble: my thief was squishy as hell, and I sometimes took damage even while dodging backwards from what seemed as a sword range. First person combat can sometimes make it hard to tell exactly where your hitbox is, and I’d just discount that in a game like Vermintide, where healing is pretty prevalent and the average enemy is a small fry you can eliminate with a giant hammer. Only three enemies walking slowly towards you pose a major threat here, and playing a ranged character feels much safer than engaging in melee.
Mythforce has a certain charm to it, with a nice mix of cel-shaded characters and slightly blurry 3D backgrounds. The art style captures the Thundercats or Masters of the Universe aesthetic and suits well what otherwise looks like a generic dungeon crawler world. The four hero classes available at launch are classic D&D. The first enemies you encounter are, of course, skeletons. The procedurally generated rooms you fight are each filled with a handful of color-coded enemies, chests, and jars to open for better loot.
It’s cozy and familiar from the jump, but if you survive for a while you start encountering enemies that diverge a bit more from D&D 101, like mushroom men that shrink at will to circle around. your frustrated sword thrusts. These weirdos are one of the reasons I wish Mythforce leaned more towards windy hack ‘n’ slash – I want to know what kind of creativity lurks later in the dungeon.
At least in this early access state – launching exclusively on the Epic Games Store – the roguelite structure seems set to die early and often and restart again and again to unlock character perks that make you that bit stronger. It works brilliantly in a game like Hades where the action is fantastic from the start, and each run offers a different set of powers to juggle on the fly. In contrast, with a static set of character skills and a much slower pace, death in Mythforce is more of a chore. Start over and fight the same skeletons again, but with +5 starting stamina this time thanks to leveling up.
I’ve played Mythforce solo and in groups of two and three players, and I feel better with a larger team. There’s a degree of scaling here, but the damage dealt by enemies and traps is even more punishing when you can’t let a teammate fend off enemies while another spends a good 10 seconds standing still for revive a downed ally.
I can see myself with a completely leveled character in Mythforce looking back at how far I had come and appreciating all the power I had accumulated. Developer Beamdog, founded by ex-BioWare devs and best known for enhanced editions of Baldur’s Gate, clearly wants this to be a game you can play for a while before maxing out your various XP bars and perk unlocks. . But prioritizing that meta layer seems to have left the pieces a bit too barren to be interesting and a bit too punishing a fight to make me want to come back for another run after losing the gear I had just scrounged.
A year of early access may turn Mythforce into an exciting roguelite, but at first glance it looks like the game you’d turn to if you had a rabid co-op squad that’s already exhausted Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, Gunfire Reborn, and Risk from Rain 2. I especially hope to see Mythforce become a lot more playful with its 80s cartoon inspirations. More Skeletor chaotic energy, please.
The first episode of Mythforce will launch in Early Access on April 20.