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Mahokenshi review
Dan Lenois


Better to fall on your sword than play this game.

Dealing A Bad Hand...

Mahokenshi, developed by Game Source Studio and published by Iceberg Interactive, presents a number of interesting ideas, but fumbles the ball in its execution of said ideas. As a turn-based strategy game with deckbuilding and roguelite elements, Mahokenshi attempts to maintain an outwardly unforgiving nature, while at the same time making it fairly easy for players to learn the ropes and find themselves immersed in its gameplay loop. The reality is, however, you probably won't want to immerse yourself in this game. As someone who just came back from a root canal operation, that procedure was more fun than Mahokenshi ultimately proved to be.

Most of the game revolves around the player navigating the map via individual tiles. Anyone familiar with the more recent Civilization games will likely find themselves at home with this particular interface. The player is generally given at least one primary objective in order to clear the map. Some of the earlier examples can range from defeating a certain number of enemies, to defeating a specific boss, or reaching a specified point and performing an action before time runs out. Each subsequent map varies things up slightly in terms of both the map layout and the objective types. The player is only required to complete the main objective. However, a player willing to do the optional tasks will find themselves richly rewarded.

Losing A Fight Before You Even Begin...

The card system here in Mahokenshi (like the narrative principle of The Purge) is an interesting idea in theory, but one that fails embarrassingly in reality. Due to the intrinsically random nature, players can often find themselves engaged in a fight, only for the game to then present them zero combat cards in their hand. Having a few movement cards might be useful when crossing empty spaces in a map, but in a battle, it likely would be better to throw damp newspapers at your enemies than to attempt running from them, as even if you gain 10 or 20 spaces distance on them, enemies will still pursue you with a sheer single-mindedness that would make most military dictatorships sick with envy.

Combat itself almost incessantly devolves into a spam competition, as both you and the enemy replay the same meagre handful of basic attacks ad nauseum until one of you dies. There's very little strategy involved in this turn-based strategy game. Simply hurl damage at your opponent while ending your turn by supplying yourself with increased defence to offset any incoming damage during the enemy's following turn. When you take into account the sometimes incredibly slow speed which enemies take in carrying out their actions, opponents' turns can feel like an eternity.

Overall Takeaway:

For a genre that defines itself largely by putting as much control into the player's hands as possible, then punishing them if they make poor choices, Mahokenshi seems to delight in doing the complete opposite. However, this goes beyond minor genre-breaking creative choices. Its lack of support for higher-end monitors, such as 1440p and above, is baffling in 2023, considering that most mid to high-end gaming laptops come built-in with 1440p monitors, and even a growing number of desktop gamers have begin making the upgrade from 1080p to 1440p. The absence of other features normally present in a turn-based strategy game, such as game saving and loading functionality, is likewise puzzling.

While its art style is pleasing to the eye, the low resolution appearance of the textures, even when the game is played on the pre-determined "High" visual quality setting, make models and other assets appear blurry and indistinct. The minimalistic nature of the options menu makes it effectively impossible for players to rectify this through further increases and tweaking. The message is clear: Either accept mediocrity, in all areas, or walk away. Given said options, walking away may well be the only viable solution.

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fun score


Interesting art style, Decent content offering, Rich progression system


Poor combat system, Unresponsive controls, Tedious boss fights