A behind-the-scenes Mist Legacy review exploring the top-down F2P MMORPG from French-Canadian indie studio Virtys.
Myth, Mists, and Mystery: The Mist Legacy Review
Having left early access in September, free-to-play indie MMORPG Mist Legacy is alive and kicking. Set in a world ravaged by beast-filled Mists, the lords of the realm seek answers as well as power. Amidst these Mists, there are Walkers -- strangers in the lands coming from a civilisation considered mythical to most. And you, the player, are one of them, albeit with a heavy burden upon your shoulders.
Disclaimer - Before diving into this Mist Legacy review, a disclaimer for the sake of journalistic integrity: As one of the bows in my writer hat, I've been working as Mist Legacy's primary English language reviewer since February 2022, editing and enhancing the majority of the English text. I've endeavoured to make that involvement a boon to this Mist Legacy review by using those insights to honestly say who I believe this game is and isn't for while endeavouring to keep my judgment as neutral, critical, and objective as possible.
With that in mind, let's start talking about Mist Legacy's English-language texts which are the best examples of video game writing I've ever encountered -- whoever wrote them deserves to win a Games Award, a Steam Award, an Oscar and eternal praise.
Disclaimer out the way, enjoy our comprehensive Mist Legacy review!
Wandering Mist Legacy’s world feels like somewhere between playing a boardgame and exploring a landscape painting.
Mist Legacy Review: Gameplay Introduction
Mist Legacy is a top-down PC MMORPG with the majority of gameplay occurring in an interactive map-like fantasy world. Hidden amongst the mountains, deserts, and forests are nodes which unveil to reveal points-of-interest such as Events, Places, and Scenarios (quests).
As well as turn-based combat encounters, many of these points-of-interest are solved through skill-based progression -- a core feature of Mist Legacy. Many encounters can be solved with different skills in D&D style dilemmas: Will you deal with a shy bandit through a show of force, persuasion, or performance?
Each skill is upgraded via its use, shaping your character based on your actions: Cutting trees in an alpine area? You'll gain experience in both "Lumberjacking" and "Mountains". And there are a great many of these skills, from "Academics" and "Botany" to "Swamps" and "Underground" (these latter, terrain-based skills determine your ability to access higher-level areas).
Gear plays a powerful role in augmenting skill levels. Every player has their own "Domain" which comprises Mist Legacy's base-building and crafting elements. Tools, weapons, clothing, armour, vehicles, and structures can all be made of myriad materials. Want to craft a Leather Jacket? Well using Bear Leather, Lan Fibres, and a Laidor buckle might give you a boost in Swamps and Subterfuge but you'll be stuffed Underground and limited in armour class.
Mist Legacy Notable Features:
Regional and Factional Reputation Systems granting access to new quests, rewards, and loot.
Night & Day System determining monster-types, interactions, activities, and danger levels.
Turn-based Team Combat reminiscent of Final Fantasy which gets more exciting as your ranks swell.
Domains which act as a personal base for construction, storage, lodgings, crafting, player-to-player market interactions, and more.
Classless Skill-led Progression with myriad skills such as athletics, perception, sewing and woodworking granting the game a full RPG experience.
Relaxing Exploration via point & click or keyboard.
Fairy Tale Feel complete with attractive, colourful aesthetics and nostalgia-inducing character designs.
Mist Legacy Review: 5 Things We Loved
The Community -- The very first time I asked a question on General Chat, I not only received instant answers but had people going out of their way to craft me new gear. They still send me a "hello" whenever I log in. There is an active and positive Discord where many of the staggering 46,000 playtesters, as well as other players, enjoy back-and-forths with the devs.
The Setting -- Mist Legacy takes place in a French-inspired medieval world set later than most fantasy games' feudal eras. Fantastical creatures still run amok though some are considered mythical - those who believe in them are deemed conspiracy-peddling loons by the most "enlightened". Reoccurring themes of science vs magic are especially prominent in the different guilds - from the nomadic Caravaneers and sage-like Circle to the noble yet self-righteous Protectors of the Rose and might-loving Claw Assembly who find honour through violence. You can join and progress through all the guilds simultaneously though you will have to choose which to favour.
The Relaxing, Rewarding Gameplay -- Mist Legacy is an intentionally slow-paced game. Between the turn-based combat and the calming musical score, it's a great game to unwind with. A lot of resource-farming is required for progression, but the grind is rewarding -- especially when you hit milestones such as your first pasture or cart which allow for massively increased carry capacity. Preparing the best gear before heading off on a far-flung adventure feels like real questing.
The Domains -- Having a base to return to gives the game a multi-genre feel, a bit like Lost Ark. Only instead of a whimsical tropical paradise, you have a Domain hidden amidst the Mists. Portals scattered around the map offer fast-travel opportunities between your hidden Domain and the main continent of Pireiria. You can also use your Mist Lantern to teleport back to your base at any time, though you will lose any resources acquired on that expedition.
The Aesthetics -- Mist Legacy has a charming storybook look that matches its gameplay. While sometimes the character models are a little rough around the edges, they're vibrant and memorable. In fact, they remind us of the brilliant character portraits of one of our featured artists -- Melinda (check out her work if you haven't already). The top-down world is stunning; a brief glance might make you think it was static but the subtle movements of fireflies dancing in the swamps, gently bristling trees, flowing clouds, and tumbling waterfalls give it life. Wandering through Mist Legacy's world feels like somewhere between playing a boardgame and exploring a landscape painting.
Mist Legacy Review: 5 Things We Didn't Love
The Pacing -- With many skills to upgrade and high-resource farming demands for construction and upgrades, I found myself going in circles too often to always enjoy the grind. Although the discovery of hidden nodes makes re-covering old ground enjoyable, for my tastes it is just a little too slow. Though with more content (something the team is working on), the otherwise relaxing pacing would tip back into a positive. Switching terrain-skill-level gating into terrain-skill-level nerfing could also fix this.
The Resource Distribution -- Resources seem heavily concentrated in the early area around Kortombe so even when new exciting areas are accessible, it often doesn't make sense to spend much time in them. If there were additional, resource-rich areas to explore, this wouldn't be an issue.
The Crafting UI: You're also gated by terrain skill levels, which isn't a bad thing -- there are many ways to increase your terrain skills permanently or temporarily. The most direct way is by crafting gear. It's a really cool, unique concept that you can build different variants of gear from the many different resources but I found myself wishing the crafting interface would more effectively show comparisons between currently worn gear vs potentially craftable gear.
The Exploration Gating -- At one point, I found myself held back by having too low an Exploration score. It was only when I found a level-appropriate Exploration-enhancing node that I was able to upgrade that skill enough to progress and once more be liberated to explore. While this works as an incentive to upgrade your character, it can be frustrating to have to level up an ability in order to unlock tasks that help you level it.
The Points of Interest Requirement -- On a similar note, when you discover a hidden point-of-interest that is too high level for you, it isn't saved on the map. I'd opt to change this so that a marker remains - rewarding eager players rather than forcing them to rely on memory or re-exploration. This would also deter players from using immersion breaking player-made resource maps.
Mist Legacy Updates, Changes and Evolution
The good news is that most of these issues are on the tiny-yet-hardworking team's radar. Plus, most would be fixed by adding more content -- something that the team is working on. There are frequent updates to Mist Legacy; beyond quality-of-life fixes, there has been a narrative introduction added, extra Scenarios and more. Moreover, while I've been playing, I've gotten to enjoy the Sombersaison in-game event which adds activities and dialog options throughout the sweeping province of Ordval.
Amidst the texts, players will find intriguing hints about Pireiria's other, unseen provinces, Strata Obseka and Arangfort. I can't say much on these other than that they offer great promise.
Who is and isn't Mist Legacy for?
If you're looking for a fast-paced action MMORPG like Black Desert Online, Mist Legacy is not the game for you. It is a slow game, but intentionally so. And that pace is counterbalanced by a constant sense of progression. There are a lot of skills, but experience points are given generously, and the fact multiple skills can be levelled up simultaneously grips you into that zero-to-hero MMORPG feeling.
From the top-down view to the time-based nodes, in many ways, it plays like what so many browser and mobile RPGs promise to be. A game that players can pick up and put down for short play sessions as well as long ones. But don't be mistaken into thinking that means it's an easy game, Mist Legacy has a truly satisfying level of complexity without unnecessary handholding -- in many ways, it feels like a puzzle to be solved.
Moreover, it's a game that nails its nostalgic feel and has a lot of appeal to those like me who love tabletop games, pen and paper RPGs, text-based MUD games and other old-school delights. You can feel that the devs share a passion for those games and they've made Mist Legacy with that audience in mind.
Mist Legacy Review Conclusions:
It's true, the game needs some tweaks and some more fleshing out. Some areas are still inaccessible and after the first few regions, points-of-interest (which are a delight to discover early on) grow scarcer. But with these very solvable issues aside, it's a wonderful little game. It's charming, nostalgic, quaint, relaxing, unique and satisfyingly complex.
Moreover, it's almost Sid Meier's Civilisation-style addictive. It genuinely keeps calling to me and I find myself loading it up whenever I have 30 minutes free... Waiting for my rice to boil? Load up Mist Legacy. Stuck in the Brimstone Sands queue? Load up Mist Legacy. Really need to get to sleep at 1 in the morning before a big day? Load up Mist Legacy.