It’s a tale as old as time: A society has collapsed in on itself, as an elite class seeks to consolidate its power by oppressing another group. In the face of such injustice, a revolution forms. The Mageseeker: A League of Legends Story explores an uprising through the eyes of Sylas, a rogue mage who is hated and despised for his tragic past and powerful abilities. Due to a stroke of luck, he escapes his prison beneath the capital city. Sylas now has to build an army, overthrow the regime, and confront his own demons.
Mageseekers are agents of the government, empowered by the hypocritical nobility to hunt and persecute mages — unless their magic can be exploited to the benefit of the state. As the game continues, the question becomes not whether the new revolution against the Mageseekers of Demacia will succeed — it seems inevitable with a cause this just and a cast so determined — but what kind of world will be built in the aftermath.
In League of Legends, Sylas is a bruiser who fights by swinging his giant chains and stealing magic from enemies, turning their ultimate abilities to his own purposes. The Mageseeker builds on that play style. You control him from a top-down perspective in this action-RPG using his giant chains to strike enemies, but also to hookshot across rooftops and tear down enemy towers in melee combat. I found The Mageseeker to play much better with a controller than a keyboard and mouse, especially when Sylas’ positioning and direction makes the difference between life and death.
The Mageseeker’s difficulty is very malleable; I can adjust Sylas’ damage, his health, and the strength of incoming attacks to my liking. This makes the game either a tense and tactical blitz in which I have to carefully consider each move and elemental spells I deploy, or a brainless button mash that lets me beat ass to get to the next story beat. And there’s no shortage of ass to beat, since Sylas is Public Enemy Number One.
As I run through each level, I’m incessantly attacked by wild beasties, Mageseeker agents of the state, and terrified soldiers. I duck into melee and score hits so that I can build up my mana bar, dash across the battlefield to steal potent spells from a caster in the back line, and then use my own formidable arsenal of spells to clear the battlefield of giant golems and elite troops.
Sylas starts out relatively weak, fresh out of prison and distrustful of everyone around him. He has trouble finding a place to sleep, let alone swaying anyone to his cause.
Before long, though, this rebellious himbo is rescued by a much more reliable band of mages, who provide him sanctuary and shelter. These new allies help Sylas upgrade his gear, equip a loadout of spells he can bring into missions, and also grant him new missions. In exchange, I can upgrade their forges and abilities with resources I plunder from Demacia.
The Mageseeker does a great job of reframing Sylas apart from his slightly discordant League of Legends biography. League poses Sylas as the leader of the rebellion, and as such, his vengeful nature and inability to focus on the greater picture become elements of the mage rebellion as well. It teeters on the infuriating centrism employed by games like BioShock Infinite — yes, it’s bad to oppress people, but it’s equally bad for the oppressed to fight back, etc.
Instead, the revolution is painted as reasonable, justified, and led by mages who had established an infrastructure before Sylas ever busted out of jail. Sylas becomes a force of nature, a metaphorical tornado they can unleash on Demacia’s strongest bastions — as well as a figurehead to draw in new recruits. A supporting cast does wonders in giving Sylas room to breathe and experience a more natural arc. The Mageseeker is also very aware of who the bad guys are; the Demacian nobility verges on comedically villainous in some scenes, and they certainly don’t live up to the gleaming white streets and just values of their nation.
It’s very easy to fall into a Mageseeker hole and lose a few hours to its fluid gameplay loop. Levels are relatively short and snappy, punctuated by high-impact fights and challenging boss encounters. These missions are bridged by intriguing cutscenes and a much more complex plot than I had expected. The Mageseeker achieves the delicate dance of being a feast for League lore fans while still remaining approachable to new players. The only time I stopped charging forward to find more fights and plot was to stop and read some documents, or marvel at the hidden secrets of Demacia’s prisons, laboratories, and academies.
There are a few typos in the game’s UI, like the status effect ‘inmune’, or receiving a blessing with an extra S. But despite a few small issues, I otherwise found this Riot Forge title to be another smooth ride through League’s increasingly complex canon. The Mageseeker makes the smart move of setting up some truly hateable villains, and then lets me smash their hopes and dreams — what more could I want from a game about toppling the elite?
The Mageseeker: A League of Legends Story will be released on April 18 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Windows PC. The game was reviewed on Windows PC using a pre-release download code provided by Riot Games. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. You can find additional information about Polygon’s ethics policy here.