Mirage, that sounds... light. Airy. Like a cool breeze on a hot summer day. A fata morgana in the desert heat. A daydream... until the big dude with the giant axe chops you in two. So you just died. Again. What a bloody mess. Mirage: Arcane Warfare, the latest multiplayer brawler from Chivalry developers Torn Banner Studios, may be a lot of things, but "light and airy" is definitely not one of them.

Choosing from six varied classes with different weapons and skills, you set out to decorate 27 different maps with severed limbs and the blood of your foes. Mirage's gritty oriental fantasy world with its djinn and outlandish, tattoed soldiers definitely feels like it has more character than Chivalry's medieval knights and, well, knights. However, you shouldn't be distracted by the game's rather beautiful stages, as simply staying alive requires full concentration.

Using three kind of attacks with different speed and power requires a certain amount of practice. Frantic clicking won't help unless you want to be known as "that teamkilling noob", and things like successful blocks allow you to riposte slightly faster. There's a real sense of weight and risk when you're trading blows with your enemies, but sadly this comes at the cost of a steep learning curve. Prepare to die often, and learn from your mistakes.

Speaking of mistakes, Mirage isn't exactly a well-balanced affair. When you're fighting a single opponent, it comes down to skill, but few players stand a chance when faced with two foes. Doesn't mean that this doesn't make for some incredible, tense fights, but it's something to take into account. Most game objectives require good teamplay, and lone wolves certainly won't come very far.


The game also randomly rewards you with items after each match. These rewards are only cosmetic in nature and don't make that much of a difference, but they certainly soften the blow of frustrating, repeated defeats early on.

From huge, brawny berserkers to djinns sweeping around the battlefield on their magic carpets, from battles in inner city streets to fights in the palace, the setting of Mirage is truly magical. If you manage to stick around for a while, it is a pleasure to play despite its learning curve.

Compared with its older brother, Chivalry, the current player count feels light, even sparse. However, there's usually at least one game in full swing on your regional server. Even if Mirage doesn't find the roaring success of its predecessor, it improves on it in a lot of ways and is a good, even great, multiplayer title overall.

You can purchase Mirage: Arcane Warfare from Steam or the Humble Store for $26.99. For more information, visit the game's website or follow developer Torn Banner Studios on Facebook and Twitter.