At first glance, the Disney Mirrorverse looks like a kid making up a story with action figures. Characters from all Disney categories – heroes and villains – come together to fight an evil force that threatens all of reality. These characters aren’t their normal selves, trading their kids’ movie characters for something a little more angular. It’s a bold and exciting choice, never seen before by this group of characters, and the mere existence of this world is an exciting prospect. Unfortunately, Mirrorverse’s audacity comes at a cost, literally, as the idea is buried beneath crystallized loot boxes, microtransactions, and complicated progressions. What could be a whole new world for Disney is instead just the latest mobile game.
Disney Mirrorverse is an action role-playing game set in the Mirrorverse, where enemies known as Fractured are increasing in strength. You battle these groups with teams of three heroes called Guardians, chosen from the 44 characters that make up the roster. Each of the 44 fills in one of four archetypes, Melee, Ranger, Support, and Tank, indicating how they fight. These classes are standard fare: Melee Guardians that use swords and other hand-held weapons, Rangers Heroes that rely on magic and bullets, Tanks that stay in the face of enemies while taking damage, and assist with healing teammates, debugging enemies, and more. You get new Guardians through Crystals – Mirrorverse’s version of loot boxes earned through the game and purchased with in-game and real-world currency. Crystals come in many forms, some highlighting specific Guardians or securing specific ranks, and are opened with a typical loot box screen via the in-game shop.
As a longtime Disney fan, I can’t stress enough how exciting it will be to see these characters in this new light. Belle in Beauty and the Beast comes out of the library as a powerful mage, wielding a staff powered by the magical rose itself. Her villainous partner, Gaston, went wild with Game of Thrones with a massive bow and shoulder-length wolf fur. Adorable bear Baloo wears a Disney afternoon TaleSpin outfit and uses a giant airplane propeller as a broadsword. Not all characters receive such revolutionary designs – Elsa is an ice-driven elemental, for example – but even characters that don’t stray far from their origins have their own appeal. surname.
There are many modes to send these heroes to battle, the main one being the Giant Story mode. The story consists of seven chapters, each with at least 10 stages of enemies to conquer. You attack by tapping the corresponding buttons in the bottom right corner of the screen – basic attack by tapping, strong attack by tapping and final attack by touching it when it is activated. You can also move with the joystick that appears in the bottom left – which can be swiped to glide quickly – and can quickly switch between each of your three Guardians by tapping their photo. they are on the top left. The attack buttons work without issue, even when switching between standard touch and button presses, but I had a lot of trouble with the quick swipe function. Most of the time when I glide, the Guardian I’m controlling will take a small step instead of dashing, often resulting in being damaged by the attack I’m trying to avoid. A few times this resulted in that Guardian’s death, which made the lack of response even more frustrating.
Each level has one to four battles, in which the team fights the enemy until the last one falls, then automatically moves on to the next battle. Only the final battle of the level has any flair: a short cutscene introduces a Fractured version of the Guardian acting as the “boss” of the stage. Once you’ve conquered that Fractured Guardian, you’ll see a brief victory pose, collect rewards based on how many stars you’ve earned, and move on to the next stage. There are other formats to explore, including Supply Runs, where you can earn one of the nearly limitless in-game currencies, and limited-time events themed around Guardian specific, but this core stage structure remains consistent throughout.
This is where the Disney magic runs on the Mirrorverse: This is the scope of the game experience. Whether you choose story, Bow Run or any other mode, each stage plays out the same way. When the final battle is over, you’ll see the same victory poses, followed by the same rewards screen, and then it’s back to the stage selection menu. It’s repetitive to the point of boredom, completely burying any excitement the original concept had generated.
All of these coins are used to purchase the resources that power the game’s various systems, from lengthy to gratuitously complex.
However, there is one mode that almost saves the day: 1v1 Showdown. This pits one of your Guardians against a unique AI broken Guardian for 30 stages, with enemies powering up in stages. While the main three-player combat system can sometimes fill the screen with action sequences, these 1v1 battles are more focused and intense. I get that “item-free, Final Destination” vibe from these challenges, as the mode distills the combat system down to its purest form. However, the matches go by quickly, meaning that before you know it, you’re at the end of the 30s, but it’s exciting how long it lasts.
However, most of your Mirrorverse playtime is spent in menus, doing everything but fighting: collecting quest rewards, buying and opening crystals to get new, highly selective Guardians Mirrorverse currencies, etc. I’ve counted eight different currencies that are used exclusively in the game’s store, and while most of this is earned through playing the game, Orbs – are used to Buy Crystals to unlock Guardians – can be purchased in bulk for real money. The store offers bundles of currency, resources, and even Guardians, which it will constantly remind you of as you move through the menus.
All of these currencies are used to purchase resources that power the game’s various systems, from lengthy to gratuitously complex. Get Motes, the resource used to level up Guardians. One comes in five colors, one for each of the four layers and a fifth color that can be used for any of the layers. They also come in three types: Small Type, which can only be used by Guardians at levels 1-20, Main Type for Guardians at levels 21-50, and High Grades for Guardians at levels 51- 100. That is 15 Types of items important to your progress. Also, every 10 levels you also need to increase your Guardian’s “rank”, which requires additional items called Gems which, again, come in both color coded and generic versions . Oh, and you’ll need Books to upgrade each Guardian’s individual skills, and there are six different types of Books to collect.
All of these complex systems create a situation where progress is halted until the in-game store replenishes the resources I need to continue. For example, my main party is Tron, Elsa and Maui. Tron and Elsa are both Ranged Guardians, but at levels 26 and 25 I can’t power them up, since I only have Minor Ranged Motes. Maui, meanwhile, was stuck at level 30 while I searched for two more level 1 Jades to boost his rank to four. It’s infuriating, even more so when I think about how great the Mirrorverse core idea is and it makes me want to play something else.
Energy – a classic mobile game in which you can play a finite number of missions until you are forced to wait a certain amount of time to play again or pay to speed up the process – also appeared, but I was able to gain more power than the counter suggested, so the mechanic’s usual limited nature is not so obvious. At one point, my energy meter said I had 84 energy out of 40 after upgrading my account; while I was happy for the overflow, it eventually subsided and I was back in the waiting game.
I could go on, but the Mirrorverse is being crammed with predatory tactics like this. They cut off any remaining desire to discover more of what is truly a bold and unique in the Disney universe, which is a real shame. I hope these Guardian versions of the Disney characters I grew up with will have more time to shine and show off their new abilities. Instead, I was buried in resources and currency, which caused these great heroes to appear on the menu screen, and was a huge disappointment as a result. I’m looking at the Mirrorverse, but I don’t like the reflection.