Mirador shows a lot of promise but lacks any real content to be a game you can truly invest in
Indie games always come in different forms, you get some games that are new pieces of art, they capture you instantly and become a world wide phenomena or just a cult classic like with Cuphead or Celeste, there are also some indie games which are absolutely awful and feel like they’ve been rushed together with a tiny budget and no real creative direction, and then there are the games that have a brilliant concept and a really good front but fail in their execution.
Mirador, the latest game by Sauropod Studio who are known for their previous title Castle Story, falls into this category of being a great concept, but falls into the trap of being poorly executed.
Mirador: The Concept
Mirador is an online co-op hack-and-slash boss fighting game that takes a lot of inspiration from the souls series and other games like Torchlight and Diablo. The concept as I say is really interesting and grabbed me as soon as I read it. Mirador allows for complete player control when it comes to the games design. Every boss within the game is completely player made, there is no preset bosses created by the studio. This means that players can experiment with the mechanics, the boss designs and just how they can experience the game.
With a concept like this, it makes it stand out from games like Dark Souls and the top down action RPG’s like Diablo. It brings something new to the genre and I like the way it tries to focus on player made content.
The ‘sentinels’ are your bosses that you face against throughout the game, as I mentioned they are all player made and you can customise them to your hearts content…sort of it really depends on what resources you have at the time. There are tons of unlockable armours, abilities and weapons to find in the world which you unlock from defeating other enemy bosses or having your sentinel defeat other players. But the best thing about the design is the fact that you can decide what the mechanics of the boss are. You can pick their movements, you can choose their abilities and in which order they can be activated and you can make a really challenging boss to send out and fight against your enemies.
The game is also online 24/7 meaning that when you come back to the game after a while you can see how many players your boss defeated and how many times it was killed, and on top of that you can also gain a set amount of loot, meaning that when you come back to the game after a break, you will most likely have some nice loot to go through…unless your boss is terribly designed.
Mirador: The Graphics
The game goes for a really nice minimal design, it’s concept art on the loading screens is pleasant to look at, the textures seem really sharp and all round the game looks similar in style to torchlight 2, with a cartoony glaze over the top of everything.
Having the characters as small woodland creatures also made this feel more family friendly for all audiences. It wasn’t as dark and gritty as Dark Souls for example, yet it still gives off a dark, cold feel to it which fits with it’s narrative description.
Mirador doesn’t really have many loading screens, there is one when you hit start from the menu and one when travelling from your hub to the outside world, but after that the game uses some lovely transitions to go from one location to another. When passing through a gate, the new location wipes over the whole screen as if it had just been freshly painted on. It’s a lovely addition and going from one location to another felt like a real treat.
There are also some lovely particle effects which really add to the gameplay. When using an ability like the dash for example you only get 3 you can use, they do regenerate and to alert you that they are recharged, there is a nice blue particle stream that appears on the bottom of your screen which instantly grabs your attention, allowing you to be aware that you have a dash ability ready to use, which can come in handy in battles.
The particles also display what type of move the boss is making, for example when the boss is teleporting, a nice blue square shows on the screen which helps the player know what is coming. The same applies for when the boss using a damage over time move or a slow down move on the player. These visual aids are very useful, nicely implemented and quite nicely designed using their brilliant particle effects.
Mirador: The Soundtrack
The minimalist world is also enhanced through the extremely relaxing and minimal soundtrack. Granted there aren’t many songs in the soundtrack, 2 in fact, but the main theme certainly has the same vibes as Zelda’s Breath Of The Wild and GRIS’.
For me the soundtrack was really nice, especially as sometimes the combat could be quite stressful, but to then be in a quiet world with a relaxing backing track just made me feel calm and not feeling irritable when playing the game.
There is also some more fast paced music over the top of the boss battles which was certainly fitting, but unfortunately was a bit too quiet to really hear it over the combat. That or I was just too focused on the battle.
Mirador: Some Fun Combat
Speaking of which, the combat can be really enjoyable at times. When you are up against a fair, well designed boss, the battle can be a nice challenging experience that can have a really nice pay off.
The move-sets are quite interesting and well designed, there’s nice audio and visual cues as I mentioned earlier and if I’m honest, some of the boss battles really felt like I was playing a Souls game, especially when you start to learn the move sets and get an idea for when you can exploit the boss.
But despite all those positives, that’s really all Mirador has going for it.
Mirador: The Negatives
To start with, Mirador doesn’t really have a story, which isn’t a bad thing really, not all games have to be, but the problem for me was, there was no real explanation into why I was killing things, where I was or what was going on in the world.
There wasn’t even a text log at the beginning explaining the events of the world, and there wasn’t even a tutorial which helped explore your character, the move sets or anything. The only explanation into everything was on the store page on steam. But for me, that’s not a very engaging way to tell the story about this world.
The annoying thing is that the story sounds pretty good, but it’s just not in the game. I don’t see why there wasn’t even an opening mission or two that set the scene and brought you slowly into the game. Then you could let the player go and have them fight all the player made bosses. It could be similar in style to Super Mario Maker, where it has a player made level mode and a story mode, but because of the budget of Mirador, this is probably why it only has an online.
While the hub world is nice and relaxing, there is honestly nothing going on at all. You have 2 training dummy’s which don’t have any health so you can even see how much your abilities hit for, you have some pointless NPC’s dotted about the area who don’t do anything apart from one which allows you to play a specific sentinel using a code which is a nice touch, and you have a workshop where you can test your sentinel and customise it with all your gear.
But honestly, the hub world is pointless and there is nothing there at all. It feels like it could have so much in it like daily, weekly quests, traders, a proper matchmaking and maybe some crafting. It lacks imagination which I feel very mean for saying, but sadly it’s true, it’s way too minimal and lacks anything to grab you.
While the sentinel menu is interesting and I think it’s a brilliant idea to be able to pick abilities and mechanics that can change the battle. There is no real attachment to the Sentinel, once it’s created, that’s it and if you want to change anything on it like a move set or it’s armour…well tough you can’t you have to dismantle the whole thing which destroys everything you have on it. This means you have to constantly grind loot hoping you get enough materials for a new frame in which you can build another sentinel. But then you get stuck in a cycle of getting better loot and having to wait to get a full frame before you can do anything. It seems like a weird system and I don’t see why you can’t just keep adding to your set sentinel instead of having to create new ones each time.
The only interaction you have with your sentinel is in this menu as well, or if you want to test it’s movements in a practice battle. This is fine, but I personally thought it would be better if it was actually within the world. Maybe in the form of a statue in the middle of your hub world for example, meaning you can see it’s armour at all times, I mean that’s the only reason you loot for armour, it’s so it looks cool in battle, and sure for other players it will, but for you, the owner you don’t really have that much sense in pride over your creation, at least that’s what I got from it anyway. I feel like there should have been more focus on really making you care about your sentinel instead of just having you go to the workshop to check on it.
Speaking of the Sentinels, that brings me onto the boss battles themselves. The real major problem with the boss battles are, they are way too hard (and yes I could “git gud” but there’s a bigger problem), they are also way too similar every time you come face to face with one, not only in their design but in their move-set.
Out of the many boss battles I faced, only a couple felt really different using heavy melee atacks instead of projectile attacks, which seemed to be the standard. But even though this was the melee attack was their main attack, pretty much all the other abilities were the same, meaning that you could play this game for hours on end and you will be fighting against pretty much the same boss over and over again with just a different set of armour or main weapon on it. If you are lucky you will get one boss that has a completely new ability that you haven’t seen before, like a ring of fire that surrounds the small arena, but that really is a rarity.
Most of the time you will be up against a boss that has a default ranged attack or melee attack, a projectile ability, a slow down ability, a teleport, a tracking missile and an attack for if you are too close to the enemy, and you will see these used every boss battle. There are also the same ability, not variations of a tracking mission, no. It’s always the same tracking missile on pretty much every boss.
It just means that after 3 or 4 boss battles, if that, it just gets repetitive and irritating.
On top of that, the sentinel abilities are so quick that half the time you don’t get the chance to respond in an aggressive way, meaning that half the fight you will be running out of the area away from attacks. The game also doesn’t reward you with aggressive play, most of your hits are pretty weak, your heavy attack takes too long to charge (especially when the boss’ attacks are so quick) and the ranged attack just doesn’t really do much in terms of damage at all.
Hit boxes are questionable to say the least, I tested them on the test dummies in the hub world and I was able to hit the dummies standing quite far back, almost double the distance that would make sense. This is in your favour for landing attacks on the boss, but it makes it a nightmare in boss battles when the sentinel can hit you even though you aren’t really near it. The hit box on you also lags behind your dash ability, meaning that even if you dash at the right time, the boss will still be able to damage you, despite the fact that you got out of the way, which is extremely frustrating, especially if you are very close to killing the boss.
The game advices you to also use a controller for the game if you are playing on PC which is fine as it works nicely with an Xbox controller. The problem is, it does allow a keyboard and mouse and it works fine so why it recommends a controller is beyond me. It would have been nicer though if they gave you the chance to change your key bindings for the game, instead you are just locked into the default keys. Which actually for me shows that it is probably better to just play on a controller.
And finally it’s a bit of a shame that there’s no loot for your actual player, it would have been nice to get a new weapon or shield so you can deflect more attacks, which is like a Godsend sometimes. But all the loot is focused on the sentinels which really is a shame. Getting a powerful gun after defeating a tough boss would have been extremely rewarding, and some sort of customisation we could carry at all times. I guess it would make balancing difficult, but if the sentries can get new weapons I don’t see why your character couldn’t.
But overall, combat had it’s moments of promise but it just got so stale and repetitive after the first 3 bosses that I really wasn’t excited to go back and do another battle and that’s quite worrying because that is all you can do in the game.
While I still stand by me saying the bosses are just way too difficult sometimes, there is a chance to play with friends and don’t get me wrong, that is great and that is probably one of the strong points of this game is. It’s a fun experience when playing with friends. But if you are a solo player, like me, and want to play with random people…well good luck because I didn’t find a single other player when playing the game. I selected the play with stranger option so many times but not once did anyone ever join me, making it a very lonely experience.
There needed to be a better matchmaking system if it was to have players play with other strangers, but the current system that it’s got at the moment just doesn’t work. I’ve played around in different areas hoping I missed something but I just couldn’t find out how it worked which made me come to the conclusion that not many people are playing the game sadly or as I said, the matchmaking is broken.
And that is really the problem with Mirador to sum it all up, it’s a great idea, but it just lacks so much. There’s really not much to do in the game to keep you playing for hours, days or months on end. It’s a 24/7 game yes, but nothing really grabbed me to want to go back to it. Graphically it’s nice and minimal and it’s music matches that perfectly. But when it comes to gameplay it just gets repetitive and really boring after a while.
If the game had more players than it has at the moment then maybe, maybe, it could be a great game with lots of new and refreshing bosses to fight that are all different in their designs, but unfortunately, unless it gets a big update, I can’t see myself going back and playing it or recommending people to jump in and start creating their own unique sentinel.
To finalise, Mirador is a great idea but is just executed badly, and unless it gets a big update or it increases it’s marketing to pull more players in, that’s all it will be, just a good idea that never really went anywhere, which honestly is a real shame.
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- Great concept
- Ability to play together with friends
- Nice minimal graphics and OST
- At times combat can be a fun challenge
- Lack of anything to do
- Lack of any players to play with
- Combat is extremely repetitive with copy and paste bosses
- Poor hit boxes and not really a fair boss battle a lot of the time
- Bosses look relatively the same
- No real customisation or loot for the playable character
- No introduction, tutorial or story to bring players in
- Poor all round execution
Mirador is a fantastic concept for a game, but it suffers from poor execution. It’s extremely repetitive, boss battles are the same majority of the time and a lot of the time you will find yourself asking the question, “…is that it?”. With a big content update this game could really go places, but it would also have to try and find a loyal audience who are willing to spend time in the game creating some fantastic bosses to fight against. But right now, it lacks a lot making it a disappointing experience.