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Games - Review - Might and Magic VI - The Mandate of Heaven - Rekindling the Fire (Magic) - A Review of a Classic RPG

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Might and Magic VI - The Mandate of Heaven - Rekindling the Fire (Magic) - A Review of a Classic RPG

In One Word

Unmissable

Genre

RPG

Released By / Year

New World Computing / 1998

Review

Status at time of writing: Playing. Level 12.

What is it?
Addictive first person RPG, where the player controls a custom made party of four adventurers, on a quest to find the so called Mandate of Heaven and free to explore an open world.

Notes
Might and Magic VI was released in 1998 and it is an extremely addictive game. I purchased the limited edition back in 1998 on a trip to Chicago (including a cloth map!), played it for a while, before it became a distant memory, replaced by System Shock 2, which arrived in 1999. That was until I read Matt Barton's Dungeons and Desktops book and was inspired to install it again, a couple of months ago. Loading up the game was like a trip back in time. I quickly decided to do a "Diary of Enroth" series for the site, but that turned out to be too time consuming, so the idea was shelved.

If you haven't played the first five games of the series, don't worry. MMVI has an all new setting, in the land of Enroth and you won't feel at a loss if you have no prior experience with the series.

The graphics are software 3D, bright and colorful, but quite blocky and will surely take some getting used to, compared to modern games, as will the controls. The gameplay is however fantastic and the game has an abundance of great little details, which makes it stand out.

Is this game still worth playing today? It all depends on what you want. After playing Skyrim for almost a year, I needed a break with something that could compliment it. Making a comparison between the two, it is interesting to see how much the genre has evolved in a decade. The evolution has made the playing experience much less taxing on the player's patience. On the other hand, some of the hard core elements that are in MMVI, have been sacrificed for the sake of a wider audience. I am not going to fault the approach of either game, since I enjoy them both immensely. Each game is also a product of its time.

Might and Magic VI is a hardcore RPG and the learning curve is steep. Though the game doesn't hold your hand, it includes enough help to enthrall those uninitiated to the lure of this genre. You create and control four characters with tons of skills and statistics to juggle. Starting out, your characters are weak and clearing a dungeon of monsters will test your patience. Great care must be taken. This makes treasure hunting and leveling very gratifying, as your party slowly becomes more powerful. It also makes the later level spells much more satisfying since it feels like your characters have earned their dues and deserve to be able to teleport or fly around the landscape at will.

For all I know, none of the monsters are leveled against your characters (a common tendency in newer games), so there is a sense of danger lurking around every corner, if you venture into an area where your characters are not supposed to be yet. In addition to that, the loot is not leveled against your characters either, so if you do decide to go on an adventure, the rewards can be as amazing as the dangers are exciting. The world is free to explore and you can decide if you want to follow the main questline or do something else entirely.

In addition to the core fantasy element, the Might and Magic series has always had some kind of Sci-Fi element show itself later on in the game. I'm sure it is somewhere in this game as well.

Below are some beginners tips to get started on this game, based on my experiences. If you decide to check it out the limited edition of the game, including the first five games in the series, can be purchased for $9.99 at gog.com.


Beginner's tips and hints
My party consisted of: Knight, Cleric, Sorcerer, Sorcerer. You'll be happy about the magic users later in the game, where you will gain access to some magnificently powerful spells.

When you create your characters, don't spend any points on luck. Instead take all the luck points you can and distribute them on other attributes. In the beginning town of New Sorpigal, there is a well, which gives permanent Luck bonus to all characters up to 15.

The first two dungeons, Goblinwatch and The Abandoned temple will require a lot of running back and forth from dungeons to temple to get healed. It is a good idea to spend some time clearing these dungeons to rise in level.

Then I stumbled on a secret in New Sorpigal, which will make life much easier if you decide to explore it. Hidden in the south wall of the bank, you can find a fly scroll. You can use this to get to the top of the Buccaneer's Lair guild, where a hidden teleporter is concealed in the northern wall. This will take you directly to the Shrine of the Gods, which is surrounded by high level dragons. You'll have to be quick and lucky here, if you are to survive. Immediately after teleporting in, run into the shrine and hit space to go to turn based mode. Each character should use the obelisk in the shrine to get 20+ to all attributes, permanently! In addition to that you will find a hidden entrance to the NWC dungeon on the western wall of the shrine. In this dungeon you will find plenty of great loot, including unlimited food, 10.000 gold, and cheap herbs and potions. The dungeon resembles the offices of New World Computing and you will even face off against series creator, Jon van Caneghem disguised as a goblin. This hidden part of the game showcases the humor, which has always been a central point of the Might and Magic Series.

When you leave the NWC dungeon, you have to be quick again to survive the dragons. I managed to find a teleporter back to New Sorpigal by running out of the shrine and exploring the stone wall outside and made it back without getting killed. I did this at level 5.

After doing this, battling monsters will be less frustrating since your characters have better accuracy. I continued to explore Catle Ironfist and the surrounding area but still got fed up with all the monster battles. I decided to try something out and ran all the way to Free Haven, leaving all the monsters in the dust. The lure of this city is the spell shops, where I was able to buy what is supposed to be devastating spells like Inferno and Meteor Shower as well as Fly, Town Portal and Lloyd's Beacon, which will make life on the road much easier and less frustrating.

In order to be able to get all these costly spells at level 10, I had my knight become Merchant Expert and by luck found a companion in Free haven which gave 6+ merchant skill points. Suddenly the extremely costly spells were much cheaper, around half price.

As of writing this, I am about to leave Free Haven to explore the rest of the world. I have heard of a pyramid with unimagined wealth, hidden deep in the Dragonsand desert. This is where I'll be heading, leaving the main story of the game to itself for the time being.


Conclusion
I am not sure exactly what it is about this game that draws me to it. I just find it extremely addictive and fun to play around with. In addition to that, it shines through that the developers spent a lot of time polishing the game and putting in small but unique little touches. This gives the game character and a certain charm.

The bottom line is: This game has soul. It is a classic RPG which is worth spending some time with, even today.






Update - January 17, 2013



SPOILER ALERT!



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Two months after writing the above article, I finished the game and saved the world. Yay! (I also blew it up, but that is another story)

I have to admit that I ran through the last half of the game after completing the council quests. I wish I had a year to play it and seek out every little nook and cranny but the reality is somewhat different.

Highlights since I wrote the article include the following:

· Entering Gharik’s Forge at level 14 and stealing the Hourglass of Time away from under the noses of an army of Warlocks. I was in way over my head but made it through.

· Using the fly spell to seek out remote areas with high level monsters, locating a chest and swooping down to grasp the loot as quickly as possible before flying onwards, or if things got really heated up, teleporting to the nearest town. I found some amazing things lying around.

· Clearing out the Warlord’s Fortress and leaving with 100.000+ gold.

· Entering The Oracle and seeing things take a sci-fi twist

· Trying to enter the Tomb of Varn at a ridiculously low level and being absolutely butchered.


There were many other highlights and overall the game is highly addictive and definitely worth seeking out if you want to try a classic RPG.

Thanks to these guides for making my life in Enroth much easier:

The Spoiler Centre - Might and Magic VI

Strategy guide in PC Gamer US Vol. 5, No. 9 – September 1998

And finally, my last screen of the game:

Might and Magic VI The Mandate of Heaven - The End




Written By Steen
Online: Thursday, November 1, 2012
Updated: Thursday, January 1, 2013 - Expanded the article after finishing the game