Tales of Mathasia Review
Welcome to the world of Mathasia, a strange land with four different regions! Meet your new friend, Mathilda, as you set out on a beautiful journey to count the flowers. Oh no. Oh no! Someone corrupted all of the flowers — what will we do?!
Tales of Mathasia is a children's education title in which you take control of the descendants of the ancient Mathematicians. The Corruption cast by Sparrow — an evil mage that sucks at math — has hit the world, and only the power of maths will be able to bring Mathasia back to its former glory.
Since Tales of Mathasia is a children's game meant for education, I want to mention that I'll be judging it based on that. My experience as an adult playing the game isn't the target demographic; instead, it's built for children ages 6–13. That said, to get it out of the way, it's not an adult-friendly title at all, and it's not something I can imagine most (if any) people will enjoy. Now that we've touched on that let's get on with the review!
The game takes place throughout four different islands: The Uncountable Mountains, Great Number Plains, The Dividing Forest, and Multiplication Islands. Throughout each of these, you'll learn a new mathematical skill to use to your advantage, which will apply for most of the remainder of your playthrough. By the end, you should have learned to count, add, and subtract numbers, though why "Multiplication Islands" exists without any mention of multiplications still eludes me to this day.
Throughout your journey, you will meet four characters that correspond to each section of Mathasia. While the writing is fine for a children's game, I was surprised at how much the characters spoke, as I felt I was going through dialogue after dialogue of voice-acted scenes that might go too long for children. However, my biggest concern with the narrative is the way that the game has terrible (and I mean awful) proofreading and grammar. Sure, its main purpose is to teach children to add and subtract, but wrong tenses, grammatical errors, and straight-up wrong words in sentences feel out of place when the game is meant to be educational.
Gameplay-wise, you'll go through learning how to count, sum, and subtract. Every skill starts with a tutorial on how to do it; then, you have three levels with incrementing difficulty that try to focus on ingraining this new skill. To heal Mathasia, you'll interact with stone tablets that play into the new mathematical skill (2+5, 8-2, etc.) with various equations, and you'll need to use the tablets provided to solve the issue rather than inputting a number yourself.
While the system works, there are a couple of implementation errors that even I — as a grown woman who is decent at maths playing the game to review — got anxiety from. My biggest quarrel with these is the ticking timer; at the edge of your screen, there is a stone pillar that ticks to zero (trust me, it makes sense in-game), and once it reaches the bottom, you take a hit to your life. Of course, as an adult who has fought the likes of Simon Manus from Lies of P, The Abyss Watches from DARK SOULS III, and even Sword Saint Isshin from Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, I should be OK with a small timer in a children's educational maths game…
...I was not.
Of course, it's not that I was suffering from anxiety as severe as some of the greater threats I've faced, but at the same time, the timer ticks surprisingly quickly. It also isn't something you can disable at all, meaning that you (or, really, your child) will be stuck dealing with that ticking down to their inevitable doom. While I understand the implementation of one to make it feel more like a game and a challenge, some equations felt almost unfair because of the stone tablets that you use to formulate your answer.
How this system works is quite simple: you get three, four, or five equations, and you get three tablets in your hand that offer different answers. However, the tablets are not always correct — in fact, they're often not. To remedy this, you throw a stone tablet into the well, get an extra point that can modify the equation (add +1, subtract -2, that sort of thing), and get a new tablet.
This system isn't terrible, and in fact, I was quite fond of it, but paired with the inevitable timer, it feels like a punishment and significantly increases the challenge that you face, especially near the later levels, where equations are five steps long, you never get given the correct answer immediately, and often the game refuses to give you the right answer. In the final level, on a five-step equation of only sums that could go up to 13, my tablets were filled with low, single-digit numbers that would never work (like one or two).
Again, the system in and of itself works perfectly well to discourage guessing and ensure that you need to find the right tablet or modify an equation the right way but paired with a timer, it went too fast for even me. Modifying the equation and remembering which equations I had to begin with to cross-reference with the deck of tablets I had on hand was something that, although fun, was only stressful and difficult with a ticking timer.
Either of these two systems would have made Tales of Mathasia feel like a reasonable title to teach children maths, but both paired don't work well at all. As a 6–13-year-old, I could not have stomached a timer with such long equations and the nearly mandatory requirement of modifying them to get the correct answers.
Tales of Mathasia (Reviewed on Windows)
Minor enjoyable interactions, but on the whole is underwhelming.
Surprisingly complex maths equations paired with a ticking timer might have been the single deterring factor in Tales of Mathasia if it wasn’t for the consistently wrong English and shoddy proofreading throughout an educational title.