Spellsworn Review

How do you make friends quickly and easily? You throw fireballs at them.

…Or if that doesn’t work, try chaining them to a rock/tree/other object and send them flying into a pool of lava. As a free-to-play PvP arena game, Spellsworn is good to pass the time.

For gamers who enjoy tutorials, you might want to give this game a miss – as there’s nothing here; you’re thrown straight into an arena with limited time to decide which spells you want to equip.

And then the fight begins. Without a tutorial, you’re forced to learn quickly, wait for your cooldowns, and hope for the best. With a variety of spells (offensive, defensive, area, utility and travel) and an ever-shrinking map, it’s only a matter of time before you’re watching the pros duke it out (or by some divine intervention, you’re victorious.)

The game has a steep learning curve: you quickly get a feel for each unique spell and its effects, but figuring out which spells work well together and which spells don’t, takes time (and many defeats. So many defeats.)

Thankfully, the community is friendly and happy to chat. Players seem happy to talk and give advice (who knew the chain hook spell could do that?). This is as close to a tutorial as you’ll get, yet feels all the more rewarding for it.

Speaking of community – it’s few and far between. There’s never usually more than 20 players online, so finding matches can be a challenge. Fortunately, you can add bots (that are just as tough as players), yet the feeling of companionship and rivalry doesn’t quite match up. Sadly, this is quite the problem – the game revolves around PvP, much like other battle arena games, yet it lacks in gameplay diversity (the three maps are visually different, but are all essentially shrinking islands with different-coloured dead zones).

The game’s visuals do the job: the orange projectiles are fiery; the white/blue ones are icy. Although one issue is the contrast of players to environment. It’s already a hectic game as it is, with both players and spells that ricochet around the map, it could perhaps do with a stronger definition on what’s-what, purely for the sake of clarity.

The game’s soundtrack is what you’d expect – sort of terror-stricken medieval siege band, which works well and places you in the world of Spellsword. Individual sounds for different actions work well too and complement the strength and uniqueness of different spells.

One final comment is the latency. Perhaps this problem doesn’t affect everyone, but there are moments when you’re sure your opponent’s fireball has missed, yet you find yourself hurtling off the map regardless. This might not be such a big issue if the game wasn’t already chaotic with the number of projectiles flying around. It’s not end-of-the-world, but after a few games, it does begin to grate.

The developers are keen to improve, and have released recent patches to improve the in-game mechanics. They’ve addressed bugs and taken measures to fix them, which is always reassuring.

All in all, Spellsworn is a fun game, that’s even more fun with friends. It does exactly what it promises and really does test your reflex skills. If you enjoy PvP arenas and magic, then try it out. There’s no excuse – it’s free!

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to editor@bonusstage.co.uk.

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