Mystic Pillars – Remastered – PS5 Review

Mystic Pillars Remastered is a puzzle game by Holy Cow Productions. Originally, it saw the light of day on PC in 2020. I’ll admit the remastered tag seems a tad generous but this thoughtful effort kept my brain in gear whilst turning me on a little towards Indian culture and folklore. It’s a pity the many puzzles lack some variety.

The story is interesting. It’s told in a mix of static text boxes and some more lavish cutscenes that are narrated in Kannada. It’s a tale of folklore involving a corrupted King who blighted the earth with mighty pillars. As a traveller from afar, you are tasked with ridding each village of the unsightly towers and restoring the land to its natural state.

The cutscenes are vibrant and well animated. You’ve arrived after the point of disaster so these scenes do a wonderful job of filling in the gaps. There’s not a lot of extravagance to Mystic Pillars Remastered‘s presentation but these scenes show a real confidence. It’s a nice window into Indian culture and it’s told very much like a campfire story in it’s native language. It helps that the narration has a warmth to it and I hung on every word.

There’s other storytelling to take into account. These are less impressive, usually involving a guide introducing you to a new village. The imagery is static and, as such, it can feel underwhelming. There’s still a great use of colour but lacks the lively nature of the cutscenes. Despite this, it’s clear the narrative has been given a lot of attention and it does elevate the game a touch beyond a simple puzzler. Visually, it does slightly distinguish itself from the earlier PC counterpart. Not by much but there have been alterations to village backgrounds and some scenes.

Mystic Pillars Remastered has simple enough rules to comprehend. Each pillar behind with a number of gems associated with it. Each level has a solution in the top right to accomplish. The pillars are typically connected by strands and these are used to transfer gems between each pillar. There’s a limited number of moves to achieve this so the levels become an exercise in figuring out the right solution. As far as I can tell, there’s no alternative ways to solve them so it becomes crucial to have your logic on point.

To begin with, the first 15-20 puzzles were good at easing me in. I never felt things were too complicated and the required moves didn’t mean I was thinking too far ahead. I found it fun to think my way through levels. The maths itself is basic but factoring in the movements makes it tricky. As you progress through the game, the threads between pillars start to become one-way systems and that added complication does make things more interesting.

What it lacks in intricacy, it makes up for in sheer volume. Mystic Pillar Remastered‘s 100 levels will take a while to complete and, whilst levels can be quickly restarted, you can only undo your previous move. It does lead to moments where a fatal error can be committed to only to discover, a few moves down the line, you’re off base. In the latter stages, there’s plenty of gems to handle and plenty of opportunities to slip up. Still, as a logic puzzle, everything you need to know is right in front of you.

In general, the the challenge ramps up evenly but I do find the occasional moment where the game gives you a freebie. Anything involving symmetry and a few moves can feel like a breather. The puzzles themselves don’t change much in appearance. There’s a decent flourish when transferring gems from one spot to another and the pillars do change colour as you venture into new locales. Unfortunately, it’s a little bland during gameplay. Maybe that’s for the best as the puzzles are easy to read but it just lacks a sense of escalation. You’re always in the clouds with scaffolding adoring the towers and can feel so distant from the villages you’re trying to protect.

The simplicity of the puzzles can make Mystic Pillars Remastered breeze by. There is a consistent logic that make the mechanics easy to grasp whilst giving players plenty of time to ponder. Whilst it is better looking than the PC predecessor, these changes are small and you don’t really need the Playstation 5 hardware to achieve that. The refreshing storytelling aspect is the thing that offers the most intrigue. It’s not a culture I often delve into but it’s delivered with some real warmth and sincerity.

Mystic Pillars - Remastered
6 Overall
+ Has an interesting story that is confidently narrated.
+ The puzzles are easy to grasp and can be engrossing.
+ Colourful presentation and environments.
+ Plenty of puzzles to solve.
- The puzzles do tend to feel repetitive.
- There's not a lot visually to remaster.
- The other storytelling devices are a little static and bland.
- More feedback for when you've failed a puzzle would be welcome.
Whilst this is largely a no-frills puzzle game, Mystic Pillars Remastered does provide an intriguing narrative to pull you through. The tale of Indian folklore is wonderfully told in a warm, native voice that does a solid job of filling in the gaps. It's a shame the remaining presentation lacks the same punch. The puzzles themselves are simple to grasp and there's plenty to work through, if lacking in variety. At times, it's tricky but I never felt frustrated. It's not one long for the memory but offers a decent diversion for a few hours.

About Mike

Mike gets all the racing games because he understands that stuff even though he doesn't drive.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *