Mittelborg: City of Mages
Publisher: Samustai LTD
Developer: Armatur Games
Release date: 2nd April 2021
Approximate size: 1.1 GB
Age Rating: PEGI 12
Reviewed on: Xbox Series X
Screenshots: Xbox Series X / Xbox.com
Mittelborg is a turn-based strategy game with rogue-lite elements, published by Samustai and developed by Armatur Games.
You’re the great chancellor in charge of protecting Mittelborg, the beginning and centre of the universe and the all-important Tree of Order.
You’ll start the game with an overview of Mittelborg, which is the same screen you’ll see through most of the game, within Mittelborg, you’ll need to protect the Tree of Order by positioning mages around Mittelborg to help defend specific structures against incoming attacks known as a temptest.
Each Temptest is coloured dependent on its attack style, and each attack will damage a specific area of Mittelborg, once that area’s health is diminished, the Tree of Order will start to take damage.
Initially, you’ll only have to defend against the red tempest, which is a direct raid against the Garrison found in the centre of the screen, you’ll soon enough have a mage who you can position in the Garrison to reduce damage.
Progressing through the game you’ll start to see different tempests, blue attacks will damage the tower of light on the right of the screen, and purple, won’t do damage, but the breeze will allow the wind catcher on the left of your screen to absorb resources for restoring or upgrading other areas.
There’s a path of the temptest bottom right which gives you an idea of what attacks are incoming, but sometimes these are hidden which will require some tactical thinking or upgrades to give a better idea of what you’ll have to deal with. Sometimes it’s as simple as knowing each purple tempest will include a restorative breeze, so if there’s only a red or blue symbol, and a single hidden event, you’ll know the purple breeze will be that hidden event allowing you to position your mage(s) accordingly.
To help defend against the ever-increasing attacks, you’ll be able to improve your defensive areas, to reduce the damage they take, positioning a mage in the structure will further strengthen its resolve, and as you gain more mage, you’ll be able to defend multiple areas at once.
Likewise placing multiple mages in one location will grant more defensive power, but maybe it’s worth leaving some in the Wind catcher to absorb extra resources when that purple breeze comes along.
Eventually, you’ll be able to build more areas to further strengthen a location as well as utilise the portal and small events to gain benefits such as additional mages, or resources.
Overall gameplay does feel a little similar to rogue-lite turn-based games like Neoverse, Slay the Spire or Monster Train, however, Mittelborg keeps things very simple, there are no fancy graphics, only a few storm effects surround the screen and there’s no complicated cards or abilities.
Sadly the overall presentation doesn’t match any of the aforementioned games which leave Mittelborg feeling less appealing and with no real variety from one session to the next, repetition soon starts to set in.
It’s certainly not a bad game and many will find it’s slow pace combined with an increasing challenge a pleasurable experience, but with text-heavy delivery, and little in the way of sound or graphics to enhance the presentation, it’s going to have limited appeal to those who aren’t specifically looking for a turn-based strategy game.
Graphically it’s incredibly simple, bold icons show the storms and health/energy, the background barely changes except when you shift to a new world, your mages aren’t little guys wandering around, they’re just a black and white icon, and these deadly storms are just a clouding vignette around the edge of the screen.
Audio is also sub-par, the music is somewhat bland and repetitive, and it seems to fade in and out too often, leaving you in near silence half the time and then reaching for the volume button when it picks back up. There are a few effects that suit the game well, but many will prefer to put some music on in the background and concentrate on Mittelborg’s strengths which are the long-term gameplay.
As for value, While the PC version on steam is over £11, the listing on xbox.com (at the time of publishing) is £6.69, which does represent good value and is a good price-range for Mittelborg.