This Way Madness Lies Review

This Way Madness Lies by developer and publisher Zeboyd GamesPC (Steam) review written by Pierre-Yves with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

This Way Madness Lies by Zeboyd Games is the latest in their lineup of fascinating RPGs. With the barriers weakening between the real world and those of Shakespearean Plays, it's up to the Magical Girls of the Stratford-Upon-Avon High Drama Society to save all the worlds from the invading nightmares.

Let's get one thing out of the way first, Zeboyd Games knows how to write a story. Having personally started with Cthulhu Saves the World all those years ago, the more recent Cosmic Star Heroine (PS4 Review / Switch Review) left me both wanting and waiting to see what would come next. So when I learned that it would be about Magical Girls and Shakespeare? There was only one thing to do. Brush up on my Shakespeare and hope that it didn't end up like the anime Is This a Zombie!?

So taking it from the top, and then maybe going a bit over that, our adventure isn't a complicated one. But! It's a fun one. Split between phases, you'll be guiding our protagonist Imogen and the rest of the party in a few ways. The first is through dialog in a classroom where you'll have to answer questions on a particular Shakespearian play. I hope you brushed up! The second is backstage where you can talk to each party member or manage your characters and abilities. The third are story events that can lead you into battle which is why the second phase is important to manage character abilities. Lastly is a bit of light dungeon crawling in another world to fight against the nightmares that are plaguing it.

The flow, while perhaps simple, felt appropriate as this adventure isn’t a very long one. Perhaps clocking in 6-7 hours depending on if you had to grind for a level or three to defeat the final boss (guilty over here) This Way Madness Lies doesn’t have any filler to speak of. It keeps to the main point and I rather enjoyed it as regardless of the act that you find yourself in, you’ll have everything to be equipped for the task at hand. And while you’re told that “you don’t need to fight every enemy”, you probably should and then fight some more as you could need it.

Fighting enemies is easy enough as you can either run into them on a map, or, select “Battle” from your party menu. Either of these options leads you into combat where you'll be in control of Imogen and three others. Each armed with different skill sets from the standard physical and magical attacks, you'll also have status ailments such as poison or stun and healing abilities such as party wide healing or individual regeneration.

What continues to be neat about Zeboyd Games combat is that a lot of these abilities are "one time" uses until a character rests for a turn. Resting is really easy as it's simply selecting to defend, but the tricky part is knowing when. Some abilities will compound themselves over time becoming stronger the more times that they are used, or stronger based on how many others have been used.

Only adding to the variety and the strategy are Unite abilities that are only allowed to be used one time per battle. These abilities range from being able to do powerful full wide enemy attacks to being able to resurrect a fallen ally. While party or enemy wide abilities are available on individual characters, they can't hold a candle to those under Unite. So the question becomes, do you use them right off the bat and try to clear the field of battle? Or do you save them up for a few turns and then unleash them once you’ve had the chance to charge them up further?

In either case, short of some of the boss fights, battles won’t take very long. This probably helps in the case of the shorter adventure as battling doesn’t get the chance to become stale. With a good deal of skills and abilities available per character, there’s a good deal of customization that can be done so if something isn’t working under your normal routine? There’s more than enough to potentially switch off to make the situation work in your favor. If that’s not enough? Swap out some party members for others and see how that goes!

Finally, as this isn’t all about combat, the dialog itself is brilliant. So while we are talking about Shakespeare and the wording of ye olde English, Zeboyd Games have perhaps outdone themselves. For every piece of Shakespearian dialog, there’s a “Zeboyd Translation”. These translations had me laughing pretty hard at times as it’s clear that these are “modern” translations and sometimes you wonder how “A” became “B”, but that’s probably the point of it all!

If I were to have one complaint, and this is more of a joke than anything else, it would be that it took me way too long to find the skip animation button for the Magical Girl transformation sequences. As a general complaint to these, and the same can go for Gundam with the multi-part suits such as the Impulse from Gundam SEED or the assembly of the Voltron in Voltron, once or twice is enough. We don’t need to see it over and over again as it chews up my 20 minute episode.

So the point being made is that, I thought it was intentional that we had to sit through it like we would have to otherwise while watching anime live and the more times it happened? The more I laughed about it as I thought to myself, now you’re just doing it on purpose. Once you do find the button though, the prompt doubles down on you asking “Keep Watching” or “Skip. Also, I kick puppies” guilting you into not skipping. Well played Zeboyd Games, well played!

On perhaps a final note or two, This Way Madness Lies worked really well on a Steam Deck. While it may say that "Steam Deck Compatibility is Unknown", there was never any issue while playing in either handheld mode or hooked up to the TV. Aside from that, and I’m sure Richard will agree when he gets to sit down to this, the music was awesome and worthy of a Memorable Music article. The opening theme, the background music while exploring, the combat music of normal battles and boss fights, or the 'you won' the battle theme, they were all great to just let them run for a bit. This probably also padded my time closer to 7 hours instead of 6.

So overall, Zeboyd Games’ This Way Madness Lies is a great bite sized RPG. Between the great dialog of the Stratford-Upon-Avon High Drama Society, the well designed combat system and the awesome music to wrap it all together, saving the worlds from invading nightmares was a lot of fun.

Score: 8.5 / 10



Post a Comment

Random posts

Our Streamers

Susan "Jagtress" N.

S.M. Carrière

Louis aka Esefine



JenEricDesigns – Coffee that ships to the US and Canada

JenEricDesigns – Coffee that ships to the US and Canada
Light, Medium and Dark Roast Coffee available.

Blog Archive