Sooner or later, you're going to need to improvise to survive in a roguelike. Backed in a corner, with just a little health. The only way to escape is by using your skills and items as effectively as possible.
Ms Spell is all about improvisation, a revolving door of random spells defining your tactics as you survive its dangerous woods. Unfortunately, its promising mechanics aren't enough to overcome this roguelike's repetition and simple design.A woodland journey
Of course, being simple or repetitive aren't necessarily negative aspects. Pickering's previous roguelike MicRogue was small, simple, and surprisingly strategic. But while MicRogue kept your moveset consistent, Ms Spell challenges you to survive with an ever-changing magical arsenal.
Ice spells that freeze a single foe or encase every enemy onscreen for a few turns. Fireballs and fire from above. Teleporting that swaps your position with an adjacent enemy. Healing and shields.
Pieces of parchment scattered throughout every level adds a random spell to your item pool, letting you wield one-use magic attacks at the most opportune moments.
This shifting arsenal is Ms Spell's greatest aspect, forcing you to constantly adapt and react. Is it best to use a freezing spell? Swap places with that skeleton, or use a fireball?
Every enemy has its own unique behaviour, so weighing your options against the foes present and the layout of the level is key to surviving.Haven't I been here before?
But survive for 10 stages, three or four playthroughs, and Ms Spell's novelties can start to wear thin. It certainly doesn't help that the level variety is limited to trees in different layouts.
The nature of roguelikes means you'll always be facing rats and knights in those early stages, always juggling similar spell loadouts.
Once you've encountered all the enemies, and reached later levels multiple times, Ms Spell offers little variety in its bestiary, arsenal, and arenas.
Ms Spell's random spell casting makes for a fun roguelike adventure through the Dreadwoods, but it's an adventure that quickly grows same-y and stale.
It may work well as an entry for roguelike neophytes, but genre veterans might be disappointed.