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Review: The Magic Circle: Gold Edition

by onJune 30, 2016
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When you think about Independent games, you think about little original titles full of imagination, and we are sometimes are left with gems of creativity, or extraterrestrial mutants that nobody understands where they came from (like Keyboard Drumset Fucking Werewolf). The Magic Circle bet on the same concept of originality, but is it good, or just plain weird?

Developed and published by Question (yes, that’s the name of the studio), The Magic Circle came out on PC last year, as a merge of puzzle, action genre, with a touch of black comedy that takes place in a world of unusual perspective. Released finally on console as The Magic Circle: Gold Edition, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 players will now live the adventure of gaming tester inside a game done by a bunch of developers, represented with floating eyes, portrayed like gods that fail to agree. Thus the game development itself starts being affected, to the point that it is been in beta for over 10 years and spread anarchy to a point of taking away your weapon as you land. Fortunately, an entity is here to help, a forgotten artificial intelligence created by the developers, who will accompany you in spirit to try to finish the game from the inside.

The humor in The Magic Circle is omnipresent, the conversations – or arguments – between the gods – which are the developers – are really funny. In the game, you will find files that are kind of sticky notes between employees to talk about graphics or gameplay problems: we finally imagine the atmosphere of the development office, their argument, the tension… Basically, welcome to development hell. All in all, the entire foundation of The Magic Circle is around the script.

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In terms of gameplay, you will need to repair the game from the core, which requires you to re-render enemies and objects, add decorative elements and textures that have been deleted. This work is done via a series of puzzles, each of which can be solved in several ways (you’re free to use the solution you prefer). To get through enemy lines, you can, via your ability, trap monsters to change the AI that the developers have given them, like whether they can fly, walk, stay static, what are their enemies and their allies, what is their weapon… In short, they become your instruments, and it is enjoyable to almost end up with a dozen minions under your leadership.

As you travel through this development hell, you will realize that everything is mostly in a black and white environment, as if drawn in pencil, but the ground around you and objects have color as if you give life back with textures. You will also discover a world with 1990s era graphics , to give us this nostalgic smile, reminding us of how 16 bit graphics is still beautiful. Apart from this small difference, the whole universe is well created to give you this impression of an endless beta game.

The duration of the game is sadly really short, too short in fact (around 3 hours), and even if the title offers us a mini-game at the end, it’s difficult to justify a 20$ price tag, when the PC version is currently sold for half of that.

The Magic Circle: Gold Edition was reviewed using an Xbox One downloadable code of the game provided by Question. The game is also available on PlayStation 4 and the original release on PC via Steam. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published.

What we liked

Greatly designed
A view in the world of development
A very interesting satire
Original gameplay

What is not fun

Short in content for its price tag
Puzzles can be too easy

Editor Rating
 
Concept
8.6

 
Graphics
7.5

 
Sound
6.5

 
Playability
8.0

 
Entertainment
7.6

 
Replay Value
5.0

Final Score
7.2


Our final verdict
 

The Magic Circle is an original game with a really good topic, and a delightful script filled with humor and sarcasm. But the game itself is amazingly short and extremely easy to complete for its price tag.

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