Lately I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing games from new independant companies that are just starting to make their way into the game industry, most of them with mixed results. But at least they’re trying, and now we’ve got a new contender from Japan just getting their start in the indie genre, Black Tower Studios, and their debut title Magus for the PlaySation 3.
The most charitable thing I can say is that playing the game is like watching a classic cheesy film, where you know it’s bad but you can’t stop watching. Because sometimes being so bad makes it so very, very good.
In the world of Magus you start off as an unnamed mage that everyone just calls Magus. Turns out he’s been locked away in a dungeon for some time, beaten yet not broken. Soon a mysterious woman named Kinna busts you out and informs you that you’re actually a god-like being and that she’s your slave to control as you will. OK, so far, so good. You can never go wrong with god-like powers and willing slave women…
It then falls upon you to escape the dungeon and explore / fight your way around the world to find answers as to who you really are and how you came to be sealed away in a dungeon. Thankfully, the controls in Magus are simple and come off like a hybrid RPG / third-person shooter. You move / aim with the left and right analog sticks, shoot basic magic with R1, use a more powerful basic attack with L1, drain magic energy with X, and more powerful spells /abilities that are come in the forms of red, green, and blue can be mapped to the square, triangle and circle buttons.
As with most RPG’s you’ll gain more abilities and become more powerful as you defeat enemies for experience points that, along with skill and ability points, allow you to power up your stats and strong magic attacks. Likewise, you’ll also come across plenty of armor and loot that will also help you become and look more powerful. The only downside to this is that the game is already pretty easy, especially since Kinna keeps most of the bad guys at bay and is invincible while you pick off enemies from afar. So anything you get to make you stronger is just overkill.
This also leads me down the path of everything wrong with the game, though keep in mind my earlier boast that sometimes being on the wrong side of good doesn’t mean it’s bad. Confused? So was I after playing the game, but I’ll do my best to explain.
First off, they claim to use the infamous Unreal Engine, yet everything looks like a glorified PlayStation 2 game. The models for the characters are pretty bland / generic looking. The enemy AI is also pretty bad, as they just wander around waiting to be killed. This is made even worse by the slippery / floaty movement of every character on the game, making it feel like an RPG Ice Capades or sorts. There is also some voice-acting present, though it’s not very good, as everyone talks but your character (save for yelling out Harry Potter-like spell names as you cast them). At times when you talk to others you’ll get to choose your replies, similar to games like Mass Effect. But all choices lead to the same conclusion and make good use of the game’s T rating, as there is a lot of senseless profanity in most of the choices you can pick.
Yet, despite all of these things, I still enjoyed playing the game. I want to say that it’s the overall easiness / god-like power you have over your enemies that makes it so enjoyable. As with some bad movies, sometimes it’s just fun to leave your brain at the door and just roll with the badness. And that’s what we have here; it’s just awesome being able to blow away your enemies and have the confidence of knowing nothing can stand in your way. This added to the fact there’s plenty of loot and gear to collect / customize yourself with, and all while being a budget title ($30 or less) makes things even sweeter.
Magus is like watching a cheesy cult classic film; it won’t win any awards and you’re bound to get funny looks from people while experiencing it, but you’ll be smiling and enjoying it all the while. In a nutshell, the game is so unflinchingly bad, it’s good. Most game reviews will tell you to avoid this title like the plague, and most people should. But if you’ve got a hunger for some cheesy fun to help lightnen an otherwise blah RPG adventure then here’s your magic ticket to some low-budget excitement.
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