Game Reviews

‘Spellsworn’ Review: Fast-Paced PvP Action For The Warlocks At Heart


Quick Take: Easy to learn, hard to master, 'Spellsworn' is equal parts frustrating and rewarding.

If you’re a fan of games like League of Legends or Dota, you might have a new title to add to your collection. If you, like me, are completely new to the genre, you may still want to give Spellsworn a try.

A new game from the Swedish indie studio, Frogsong, Spellsworn is heavily based off of a Warcraft 3 mod called Warlocks. The premise is simple: defeat everyone else to prove your might. There are five rounds to come out on top, with shopping rounds in between to upgrade your character with new spells to help in your endeavor. Combat takes place in one of three ever-changing arenas, each one different from the next. The spells you can use are divided up between five different categories: offensive, defensive, area, utility and travel. You can focus on just one category or spread your gold out between them to get the best bang for your buck. In addition to the spells, you can also upgrade your character with new weapons and skins to maximize your power and look good while doing it.

When I first got my hands on Spellsworn, I didn’t know what to expect. The game does little to prepare you for the combat, so the first couple matches are going to be rough, even for experienced MOBA players. But once you get the hang of it, the quick pace and easy controls become second nature. Evasive maneuvering is a skill you have to pick up as early as you can to avoid spells that are slung your way and ensuring your own spells hit requires a bit of knowledge of the spells you’re using, including their speed, effects and cool-down period. It might seem like a lot to take in at once, but it’s fairly straightforward and you’ll be working on your tactics before you know it.

Spell customization options in Spellsworn

The customization, both in individual matches and across the game, is surprising given Spellsworn is Frogsong Studios’ first title. With more than 28 spells to choose from, you have a lot of options to customize your character to your personal play style by the final round of each match. The five categories of spells give you the opportunity to mix and match as you see fit. The skins and weapons you gain over time give your character a nice little flare, too, especially since the starting models are a bit bare-bones.

But while the controls are easy to pick up after a few matches, they are extremely hard to master. Spellsworn is 100 percent based on your skill as a player, and you’re going to lose a lot of matches when you first start. Or at least I did, as a MOBA novice. Players that have more experience in the genre might be a little better off. Considering this game has been in early-access on Steam for some time, there are certainly players out there who have already mastered their skills and will absolutely destroy someone who’s picking it up for the first time. And not because they have better stats or gear or anything, but because they’re already familiar with the mechanics, spells, arenas, etc.

Spellsworn victory screen

While that makes for an even playing field, at least as far as stats are concerned, it can be frustrating for new players at the beginning. There doesn’t seem to be any matchmaking at this point, but the game is fairly new and that may be introduced at a later period. Still, if you’re playing your first match and you get pitted against someone who has 100 hours logged in the game, there is going to be some irksome moments in which you just want to give up. Spellsworn is a game you have to stick with to develop your skills and hone your strategy to become even remotely successful.

Perseverance is a huge part of Spellsworn, and I can only guess it is for other MOBA games as well. If you have the patience to lose match after match until you finally come out on top, though, the victory is oh so sweet. If you’re looking for a game that you can get into and enjoy success early, this may not be what you’re looking for. However, as it’s free to play on Steam, it might be worth a shot even for those who are inexperienced in the MOBA genre. Just prepare yourself for a long road to that first win.

Spellsworn is free to play now on Steam. This review was based off of a pre-release access code provided by Frogsong Studios.

SCORE: 2.5 out of 5

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