MindSeize by Kamina Dimension is a pixel art Metroidvania style game full of exploration, tough as nails boss fights and a plethora of upgrades. MindSeize does a lot right, but it stumbles in a few areas. However, even if it has room for improvement it’s an excellent example of its genre.
In MindSeize you play as a private investigator called M.C. Fox as you seek your revenge on an organisation called ‘The Ascended’. Which on the surface sounds like a generic set up to get you going with the game. In reality, MindSeize has quite a harrowing introduction where the main character’s daughter is kidnapped and he is subsequently crippled. At this point, he joins a mercenary force to hunt down the people who took his daughter. And he does so in Avatar style as his consciousness enters a mechanised suit. At this point, you can start running, jumping, shooting and sword swinging your way through each level gathering currency and battling bosses.
Within the first few minutes, MindSeize surprised me. Upon loading up the game, I thought I’d started some sort of pixel art visual novel, that’s how detailed the characters and setting was. I expected to jump right in and start exploring, the story set was a lot to take in. This was certainly a double-edged sword as on one hand it got me intrigued about the setting and characters but on the other, I was left confused as the motivations of ‘The Ascended’ are not explained at this time. However, once you take control of your character everything starts to slot into place and the story expands from there.
Running around as Fox can be exceptionally pleasing, especially once you have a few upgrades. Initially, MindSeize seems basic, but throughout the game, you unlock plenty of new weapons and other useful gizmos. Frankly, any game that lets me perform a slide, cancel that into a sword slash and slide again is going to be getting top marks. However, I think where MindSieze suffers is when you don’t have that freedom of movement or should I say the boss fights.
A large part of MindSeize is progressing through a level to a boss and, for me, they were the weakest area of the game. While they are imaginative and use the environment to their advantage, they didn’t always make sense within the narrative of the game and introduced difficulty spikes that would have caused me to stop and not return to the game if I wasn’t writing this review. Additionally, many of the ranged shooting attacks an enemy fires at you are not easy to see. The attack is either poorly telegraphed or extremely small making it difficult to avoid and easy to die against. On top of that, all the freedom of movement I mentioned before is removed as most boss fights take place on a single screen.
Another area MindSeize could have improved on is the general combat. While it definitely looks flashy and exciting, it does so to the detriment of feeling satisfying. Attacks like special lunging slashes with your sword deal serious damage, but rather than making you feel powerful they are rarely used over the more reliable normal attacks. As for ranged attacks, these are all well and good when aiming directly in front of you, but when trying to target something directly above or diagonally, you run into issues. Literally, you run into things. Because you are generally trying to aim, dodge, shoot and everything else, this means that you’ll try to shoot straight up and in doing so walk forward by mistake, miss and fall in a hole. While there is a button to shoot diagonally, this only works if the enemy is at that perfect trajectory which is rarely the case. As MindSeize demands precise control and timing from you, it needed to provide a button that forces you to stop moving so you can aim freely. Something like bringing your shield up which also roots you to the spot from Valfaris would have been a perfect addition.
And while I don’t mind dying a lot and retrying a boss fight, see my previous Valfaris review for lots of me dying, I do if the reason I’ve died is the controls, not being able to see ranged attacks very well or impossible to avoid attacks. Whereas in Metroidvania games I normally look forward to the boss fights as they allow you to combine your new abilities and skills into a challenge, in MindSeize they were necessary hurdles to get past so that I could enjoy the rest of the game. This is a shame because there is a lot to like from exploring the environments, testing yourself against normal enemies and utilising your skills through platforming challenges.
As it stands, I don’t think I can recommend MindSeize unless you are 100% sold on the combat. If you can master its numerous systems and put aside their many issues. From a narrative perspective, MindSeize is interesting but it feels like there is a different game needed to fully appreciate what it is trying to do. However, having said all of that, MindSeize is an accomplished Metrodvania with a massive map to explore, dozens of upgrades to access and a diverse range of enemies to test yourself against. While I don’t think the boss fights are the best part of the game, they are all different and provide nuanced challenges. And for many people that will be enough.
Thanks for reading. If you want more Metroidvannia coverage, then check out my article on Hollow Knight’s map. Alternatively, for more maps check out Gav’s article on the history of fast travel.
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