Recently, we here at TechRaptor managed to get an early look at Mahokenshi, a deckbuilding strategy game set in a world inspired by Japanese myth. You play as four heroes empowered by the divine strength of the Kami as they defend the Celestial Islands from evil. Now, thanks to some time with developer Game Source Studio and publisher Iceberg Interactive, we can reveal the game's fourth and final hero: the magically mighty Misaki.
Like all Mahokenshi, Misaki is empowered by a Kami. In this case, she has gained the divine power of the kitsune, a fox spirit. Because of this, she has the ability to conjure fireballs, summon mystical wards, and even teleport. It is through this great power that she fights for and defends the noble House of Topaz.
In other words, Misaki is Mahokenshi's archetypal mage. She can summon helpful spirits with her wards, strike enemies from far away with fire, and even teleport. She's all about setting things up, then burning things down.
But this doesn't necessarily mean Misaki is a walking artillery. In order to balance her long-range power, there is a greater focus on energy management. Every action in Mahokenshi costs energy: movement, playing cards, etc. Because of that, there will be a lot more risk with Misaki. Do you spend all of that precious energy for a powerful fireball and leave yourself vulnerable? Or do you set up some wards to help regain energy and plan long term?
This does mean that playtesting Misaki led to its own unique challenge. Game Forge Studio's David Cicurel explains:
We really wanted to do a character that had range and area of effect a lot more than other characters. Other characters have some. Kaito has area of effect but not range. Sota has a bit of range but no area of effect. She has both. That has created a lot of power. This is why we did a lot of playtests on her. And she was a bit more powerful than the others. We didn't want to balance that reducing the power of the cards, so one of things we did to adjust the balance was reduce Misaki's life and hit points.
In other words, Misaki is a glass cannon. The reason why you need to set up wards and pick your targets carefully is if you get cornered, Misaki will be cut to ribbons. But if kept at a distance and with enough prep time, she can bring devastation to a map with a fiery blaze. Those who are familiar with the classic Dungeons & Dragons wizard will understand this dynamic all too well.
While we were unable to play Misaki at time of writing, there was some concern about her portrayal. This is because the Kitsune do not just control fire, they are usually depicted as tricksters and seducers. Because of this, Misaki is portrayed as sexy with fox ears, a tail, and a revealing outfit. While Japanese culture is popular in nerd circles, there is a risk of having different parts of it picked apart and thrown together with no regard for context.
Thankfully, the design of Misaki was done with careful consideration. Cicurel did confirm that the development of Mahokenshi was done with the cultural consultation of Chivalry Japan, a marketing and consultation agency based in Tokyo. This ensured that game's lore and visuals properly expressed Japanese culture while allowing the team their own creative freedom. Cicurel even mentioned the importance of having such talks, having them early, and taking feedback to heart.
I am a Japanese-culture fan, but I know that is not enough. So working with people who are in the culture was also very important. Misaki is a strong female character, so we worked also with female game designers that helped us also find a balance that was appropriate for me but also appropriate for them.
In conclusion, Misaki brings some long-range power to the world of Mahokenshi. If you want to feel like a powerful mage in a Japanese-inspired world, setting demons and oni ablaze with divine power, she is the choice for you.