Mystic Pillars Review

Arrange gems in a limited number of moves in the colorful world of Mystic Pillars. Uncover the story of the kingdom of Zampi, set in ancient India, and bring much-needed water to the diverse villages.

Format: PC via Steam
First playthrough time: 4 hours

Mystic Pillars. Level 28 with 9 pillars and 5 moves

Released March 4th, 2020 by Holy Cow Productions

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Quick Overview

Major Pros:
  • Unique puzzles
  • Beautiful colors
Major Cons:
  • No hint or skip
Minor Pros:
  • Uncover the story
Minor Cons:
  • Minor polish issues
Mystic Pillars. Spirit saying who woke me up from my deep slumber? ah! you seem to be new to this place.

The spirit who accompanies the player on their journey

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In-depth Review

Mystic Pillars has a unique puzzle mechanic. Players have a limited number of moves to transport gems between connected pillars to achieve the desired arrangement. Gems must be moved in sets equal to the number of pillars moved. That is to say, in order to move over to pillars, two and exactly two gems must be removed from the starting location.

Mystic Pillars. total gems moved is based on the distance between pillars

Moves require an equivalent number of gems

In some levels connection between pillars may also be one-way, allowing gems in only one direction between them. Since move distance is equivalent to gem amount, the player must either use many moves to move a small number of gems or fewer moves, but they must move a larger number of gems. I found this gameplay to be very unique and interesting and levels felt like there were multiple ways to solve them.

Mystic Pillars. Level 14 with 5 pillars and 2 moves

A blacksmiths themed level from the second village

In general, the puzzles got harder the further through the game, the player progressed, but all of the difficulty felt appropriate. The one struggle for some players may be that there’s no hint or skip options in the game. If a player gets stuck on a puzzle, they have no option to get assistance or delay that particular puzzle for the time being. Some players will likely find this frustrating. There were a couple of puzzles that I got particularly stuck on and I had to step away from the game and come back later with a fresh mindset.

Mystic Pillars. Level 50 with 9 pillars in a disconnected grid and 5 moves

A level from the village of alchemy

There are 100 levels in Mystic Pillars that span eight different villages. Each village has a unique look and color palette for the puzzles in that area. I really enjoyed the beautiful array of colors throughout the levels. It was very pleasing to look at without being overwhelming, despite how saturated it was. I think that was quite a feat.

Mystic Pillars. Level 80 with 7 pillars in a figure-eight connected with oneway paths and 5 moves

Example of oneway paths

As the player advances through the game, they uncover the story of the kingdom of Zampi. Zampi is set in ancient India and follows the story of the kingdom’s decline and struggles due to drought. Throughout the story, the player is moving the gems to break spiritual magic and collapse the pillars so that water can flow through the kingdom again. Each village within Zampi has unique characteristics focusing on different strengths of the kingdom, such as agriculture, trade, and scholarly advancement.

Mystic Pillars. Meeting the scholars of Zampi currently looking for ways to find water underground

Meet the residents of the scholar village

I noticed a couple of minor polish issues in the game, such as graphics that didn’t quite line up or times when sounds or animations wouldn’t quite play at the right time. None of these impeded the gameplay, but they were minorly noticeable and took away from that really polished feel of a finished game.

Mystic Pillars. Overworld view of the village of Huligi

Along the left, some houses appear out of focus due to misaligned visuals

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Recommendation

Overall, I found Mystic Pillars quite enjoyable. I enjoyed the unique puzzles that it presented and the beautiful colors. Some players might be turned off by the inability to get help with puzzles from within the game, but I found that the difficulty was still appropriate. I recommend Mystic Pillars for any players looking for a new type of puzzle game, particularly if they are attracted to its visual style.

What unique puzzle games have you played?
Let me know in the comments below!

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