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Throughout the years, I have battled through riveting RPGs, crowning myself a hero after hours upon hours of binging. Hell, I’ve even reached ‘expert’ status on Guitar Hero by repetitive harmonic button smashing. No big deal. However, I hadn’t yet had the pleasure of being a protagonist imprisoned in an incomplete fantasy game. Well, that is until I took a stroll through the psychedelic world of The Magic Circle.    

The Magic Circle is undeniably one of the most bizarre experiences I have ever endured within my video game collection, but in a way where I took delight in every aspect of it. In all honesty, it emanates a sensation that made me question whether or not I had taken any recreational drugs. Now just to be clear, ahem, I most certainly hadn’t, that’s just simply how The Magic Circle is molded. Surely, that peculiar emotion was conveyed flawlessly.

magic circle scenicBeginning as “the hero,” I started my journey through an artistic unfinished world, listening in on the constant bickering of designers Ish and Maze. With the back-and-forth indecisiveness that lingers between them, it’s not rocket science identifying why this fantasy game has reached a lull. That’s where the hero comes in. As savior of this fictional video game, I held total responsibility to seize the tools needed to take control of its development from the “gods” and to ship the game myself. The only catch was accomplishing this from the inside. Thankfully, this is all possible with a little help from an A.I. that despises all developers, but is pretty fond of the hero.

I know, it sounds weird and relatively complicated. Trust me – it is.

The Magic Circle is an interesting combination of comical and gloomy, revealing troubled backstories of each designer involved in the creation of the game. I felt like a chump, for one minute I’d be laughing hysterically and the next I’d be counting my blessings and empathizing with a video game character. Additionally, the soundtrack reflected the rollercoaster of emotions brilliantly. Even if I wasn’t sad, a string of sad sounding chords would play and ta-da, hello sadness. How did it come to this?

magic circle change logAnyway, distributed across the map are Change Logs. These fancy logs are viewable floating cards containing concerning thoughts on the game’s development from various project managers. Little did I know that a handful of these developers’ notes hint at solutions to numerous puzzles scattered throughout. It’s helpful to keep them in mind, especially since several puzzles require some major critical thinking.

I must admit, the most charming feature of The Magic Circle was the ability to acquire allies that accompanied me on my journey to rid of the god-like fools. Because of all the uncertainty that resonates between the designers, the hero was never actually granted with any powers or weapons. That’s where my nifty little minions came in.

magic circle alliesRanging from creatures that are so ugly that they’re cute to an actual rock, I had assembled quite the team of badasses. The exciting part, though, was actually “trapping” them and editing their behaviors. For example, I was able to alter how they moved, attacked, who their enemies and allies were, and whether or not I could pick them up and throw them around. Depending on what the ability was actually transformed the way they appeared. This feature ultimately made them distinctive amongst other similar allies. Hell, I even gave them all names to show them how much I cared. With each new creature or object I encountered, fresh abilities were up for grabs. I typically assigned the fun ones such as “flight” to whichever friend I liked best that day.

Yeah, I won’t lie to you, I totally played favorites.

Not only did The Magic Circle offer allies, but each creature or object had a special purpose. Well, most of them did anyway. I had to get creative when assigning abilities because there was no way a cyber rat was going to fly me across a river of boiling lava. I eagerly put on my thinking cap and had to prioritize common sense, which was sloshing somewhere up in my brain.

magic circle puzzleAdditionally, each puzzle I encountered offered numerous solutions. Creativity plays a huge roll in The Magic Circle, crafting various techniques to achieve that pat on the back. Since they can be a bit of a head scratcher, it’s incredibly rewarding once you muster your way through them.

Overall, I was unquestionably pleased with how The Magic Circle panned out. Its one-of-a-kind plot and fascinating features were a breath of fresh air from what I’m typically used to. Granted, it lacks some replay value and may appear short to some players, but undergoing this experience was both mind-bending and enjoyable from start to finish. Keep in mind, folks – there truly is a method to the madness.

8 Reviewer
Users 0 (0 votes)
Pros
-innovative -stunning art style -interesting plot
Cons
-low replay value -short playthrough
Summary
In a nutshell, The Magic Circle is a quite the strange escapade, but definitely an entertaining one. Controlling a protagonist that holds full responsibility for completing an undeveloped game encompasses a unique twist you don't often see in the video game industry, and it is awesome.
Criterion 18
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A PC copy of The Magic Circle was provided by the publisher. To learn more about our score,read our review policy.

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Amanda has been obsessed with the video game industry since she mustered through an array of nearly impossible Sega Genesis games. When she's not writing, you will typically find her with her gaming computer, eating pizza, or watching Dragon Ball Z.