With Spells & Secrets, German developer studio Alchemist Interactive from Düsseldorf is looking to expand the rogue-like genre with a title focused on magic. Inspired by fellow wizard Harry Potter, Spells & Mysteries isn’t just a Hogwarts clone. Above all, it brings exciting ideas to the genre, so that a high replay value is guaranteed. But what exactly makes spells and suspense so interesting and why can it be the right choice, especially for beginners in what is currently the most popular genre? Learn in our exclusive preview.
Some spells pack a punch.
As you know from other games about magic schools, in Spells & Secrets you slip into the role of a student and you can customize your character at the beginning. The character editor here is really comprehensive and no matter what gender you identify with, you can find the perfect look for you. Once you’ve given your character a name, you’re ready to go. As a freshman, you arrive at the Griffenstein School and something unexpected happens in the first few minutes, which is why the hallways and rooms of the school suddenly fill with monsters instead of curious students.
Your journey always begins at the very beginning, in the Griffenstein School campus, which serves as your hub or safe space. In the beginning, the courtyard is still very barren and empty, but this will change as the game progresses. Incidentally, the courtyard isn’t the only safe place, as you can unlock and explore 10 different areas in total. At first you’ll only find a teacher there who will teach you new spells and a few things on which to test your magic even before you enter a dungeon, which is typical for the genre.
As the title of the game suggests, you don’t fight evil opponents with a sword, bow or ax, but with various magic spells that you can learn during the game. According to the developers, that’s a lot, so at some point you’ll be able to put together your favorites from a larger selection or experiment. Here the desire was clear and clear that nothing should stand in the way of the players’ furious creativity.
Take a good look around the rooms so you don’t overlook a treasure chest.
The dungeons themselves are randomly generated, so you always have to face new rooms and paths. First, in each room you’ll find an artifact that replaces or enhances one of the spells you choose. For example, if you have levitation in your repertoire, an artifact will amplify the action with lightning, causing an electric shock to the enemies you levitate. But you must be careful, as the attack can quickly backfire and strike you…
Within the dungeon you’ll face different enemies and you’ll have to figure out which spells are effective against which monsters. However, you can also work with your environment here, as the already mentioned Levitating spell lets you move furniture as well and has a certain power against monsters. Here joyful experimentation is desired and sometimes yields surprising results. With certain abilities, you can even transform into objects or monsters and – if you feel like it – defy the entire dungeon as a tiny, flying dragon. Of course, small bosses or big final bosses are also waiting for you in the form of a strong wizard who has a lot on the box and does not surrender immediately like the first colored blob.
Another part of the game are the unnamed secrets, that is, the secrets that are hidden in the castle. Every dungeon cell has one of these that needs to be understood. Here you also have to cooperate with your environment and some puzzles are easier to solve than others. In some cases, you won’t be able to solve riddles straight away because you don’t have the appropriate spells yet, but don’t worry, the secrets won’t go undiscovered for long. In addition, you can collect gold, potions and other things in dungeons or buy them in shops and vending machines. However, you lose all that if you die inside the dungeon and return to your center, so you only have your experience points. Classic roguelike.
In cooperative mode, you can explore dungeons in pairs.
The inspiration for Harry Potter doesn’t stop with the setting, however, as there are also so-called factions that can be compared to the four different houses of Hogwarts. Each faction has its own expertise in the game which brings its own benefits. For example, you can specialize in artifacts or potions, but you can also collect companions, called acquaintances, that you can tame in dungeons and then take one from your collection with you. can go. Companions that have already been collected will be placed in your hub, where you can interact with them even outside the dungeon.
Last but not least, Spells and Secrets also offers a co-op mode, so you can go with a friend. It allows you to simultaneously explore dungeons and throw yourself into battle against evil opponents. You can also duel in the classic way. However, beware of cooperatives, as a spell can quickly cast a spell on your friend and not your enemy.
Overall, Spells & Secrets already plays out very quickly and smoothly. Although the battles aren’t as action-packed as in Paatal Lok, for example, spells offer entirely new options for asserting yourself against opponents. The difficulty level is also kept very low in the beginning, so that beginners can have fun and don’t put the controller aside in frustration. Plus, the graphics are really cool, making you feel like you’re in a magic school and want to go straight to the next class with parchment and ink. Of course, there is a story behind this whole thing which also needs to be explored, so that a solid all-round package is coming out so far.
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