Have You Played… Mirage: Arcane Warfare?

Mirage: Arcane Warfare Pit

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

I’m genuinely sad that ‘Chivalry with magic’ didn’t excite enough people for Mirage: Arcane Warfare to have an active player base. Despite giving the game away for free for a brief period, the servers for this multiplayer stab n spell ‘em up are still empty. It’s a shame, because the game is great for all the same reasons that Chivalry is – with magic attacks that add to that experience rather than detracting from it.

The melee combat works in exactly the same way as Chivalry. It’s the deepest system I’ve seen for melee brawls, with advanced techniques to learn that are as satisfying to pull off as they are effective. You can speed up or slow down your strikes by moving the mouse appropriately, or even – in a move that’s fondly called ‘the matrix’ by the community – duck under attacks by looking directly upwards.

There was plenty to think about without the addition of magic, and maybe that’s why people are still chopping off heads in Chivalry rather than Mirage. For me, the spells felt like a natural extension of the combat, making dances more colourful, varied and exciting. It brought a touch of games like Overwatch and Paladins into the fight, where learning the nuances of each fighter’s different abilities could give you the upperhand.

My favourite character was the Vypress, an agile assassin type who could teleport. Skillful use of my abilities meant I could occasionally win 2v1 fights, which would never really happen in Chivalry. Maybe one day the game will go free-to-play and I can get my fill of mage murdering.


  1. Anti-Skub says:

    The magic does detract though? The art style is kinda ugly, the combat floaty and weightless, it’s poorly balanced.It’s Chivalry, but worse.

  2. interdimensional_ says:

    This game is gorgeous and magical, but I imagine there aren’t enough gamers w/ enough breadth to get into sand and sorcery :(

    I bet if it were a Chivalry expansion it’d have piqued a lot more interested. Slowly ween them off the HEMA by association.

  3. Lord of Beer says:

    32 total players online right now…. farcical. They tried to make an Overwatch clone, badly misjudging what drew people to Chivalry.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    I wanted to like this one, but the controls were clunky and the game was ugly, and it just never caught on.

    Kinda sad, because obviously a lot of people put a lot of work in, and it just sorta flopped.

  5. Viral Frog says:

    To me, Mirage was just too much like Chivalry… except all the bits that made Chivalry great had been removed.

    • Beefsurgeon says:

      Yeah, they really misunderstood their own game. Chivalry’s strength was the the combination of a realistic-ish theme and extremely visceral mechanics. While I think a refined and expanded sequel could have been very successful, puffy pants and magic wands were not the right direction.

  6. nimbulan says:

    The problem is the magic DOES detract from Chivalry’s top-notch melee combat mechanics and feels strongly unbalancing. They managed to make the melee feel weightless at the same time. The game feels like they just threw a bunch of extra mechanics at Chivalry without any regard to how well any of them work or fit together. It seems to be even buggier (somehow) than Chivalry as well, when the bugs and the developers’ refusal to fix them are what killed Chivalry. The whole game’s just one big disaster, honestly, and it deserves its fate. I can’t say I’ll feel bad if it results in the studio closing after their persistent neglect ruined one of my favorite games.

  7. morganjah says:

    I believe the author might have typed this entry, tongue firmly in cheek.

    • Baines says:

      The RPS staff were generally positive towards Mirage in its previous coverage. Criticism largely came from RPS commenters.

  8. ScubaMonster says:

    Tried it when it was free and just didn’t get into it at all. The combat didn’t have any heft or weight to it and didn’t care for the art style, and not just because it was cartoony. The characters just were blah.

  9. Freud says:

    I don’t start to play multiplayer games until I know they have a healthy player population.

    Most of them just end up being a wasteland after a few months, so it’s a waste of time.

  10. Lobotomist says:

    Its simply bad game. Its interesting how a studio that made great game like Chivalry , can make a blunder like this one.

  11. JaxAttackPC says:

    The reason this game didn’t take off is because nobody wanted it.

    Torn Banner Studios happened to stumble upon a highly addictive and skill-based combat system that worked, and then neglected it. For years, we asked for fixes and tweaks to fine-tune the gameplay, eliminate some cheese and make the game more enjoyable for new players, and they gave us a half-baked outsource DLC called Deadliest Warrior. Still, we held on to the hope that they’d at least fix these issues in their next game, which we assumed was CMW2. Instead, they give us a watered-down melee/magic game that fails to capture what actually made CMW great.

    The reason for this is due to an exodus of Torn Banner’s key developers – one of the key programmers left to pursue school, leaving behind a mess of spaghetti code (ask any modder about it). The artists got screwed by some “questionable” contracts that left them without a job and less payment than promised (ask Scott Petty for the deets if you want). In the end, Steve Piggot was manning a skeleton crew of people that were not only completely out of tune with their creation (they were fucking terrible at Chiv) but also didn’t listen to their community, except for one dude, their community manager – who either quit or was laid off recently, after the crash of Mirage (Reithur). Balance fixes never happened, community feedback was ignored, and the game actually got worse with subsequent updates. Meanwhile, Torn Banner was taking Steam Workshop content and selling it, with none of that money actually benefitting the game.

    Some people got fed up, and some decided to actually do something about this. A handful of competitve players, and some modders who worked on Mercs/Compmod (the balance fixes that TB never gave us) got together and started working on an experimental project called Slasher. OVer the coruse of a few years now, that’s turned into Mordhau, which is flat-out superior to Mirage and CMW in every way.

    The reason Mirage didn’t succeed is because after neglecting their playerbase and game for years, they tried to make something nobody wanted. When you don’t listen to your customers, someone else will come along and do a better job than you. Ironically, Torn Banner’s customers are the ones putting you out of business. :D

    • Malagate says:

      Thanks for making me aware of Mordhau, reminds me of War of the Roses as well as Chivalry – hopefully will be better than both.

  12. Hollow Hiki says:

    I actually got the game on giveaway, and was rather excited to play. Too bad my potato pc didn’t agree to that.