There will always be a reason for a ragtag group of people to go on a journey, which is why it still works as a game premise. Little Bear Studios has followed this by placing it at the core of their title, Magic and Machines. This is a 2D pixel art-style game reminiscent of the very first party-based RPGs. Control a group of characters as they travel a fantasy world and solve problems all the while pursuing a much bigger objective. Enter all the houses and dungeons with the expectation that with every step you take, another battle could be waiting for you.
Why Magic and Machines?
The market is populated with so many kinds of fantasy, and each world needs a story of adventure. Magic and Machines has been designed to go with a solid setup. You play as Blaer, an apprentice from a small town learning to operate machines that are able to turn mana into energy. After an inciting incident, the Fire Stone that provided mana and power to Blaer’s town is suddenly stolen by evil forces. Several years later, Blaer follows up on reports of the other elemental stones being stolen. Along with his group of companions, it’s up to them to find out why these stones have been stolen and hopefully return them to their rightful places.
Powerful Magic and Machines
Magic and Machines offers a classic experience that calls back to the early days of gaming. It provides you with a quick setup and a turn-based style of battling. Despite the epic narrative in the play, things move very quickly in this world. You’ll be out the door, fighting, and into a time skip within the first few minutes. The game teaches you as you go, so the choice to slow down is your own. Once things get going, you can blast through exploration and story to get back to the action.
Then there’s the size and the characters. The world of the game is quite large with a lot of hidden spots and buildings to visit at your leisure. It helps that such a tour will introduce you to many characters who will join you on your quest. Each one is distinct in appearance and personality, with some surprises revealed along the way. This makes a difference during combat where you get to see their base stats and individual abilities come into play. It’s also convenient that they can all be equipped with whatever you find to help grant greater coverage in whatever strategy you may be attempting.
Broken Magic and Machines
There are many problems in trying to bring a pixel party-based RPG to the mobile platform, especially when it comes to the overall feeling. Magic and Machines struggles to capture all this in its current form. Simply put, the game needs to undergo some serious maintenance. The characters have the most detailed pixel art, which clashes with the enemies that look simpler and sometimes even look like they’re at different resolutions. This is especially noticeable with some of the objects and how they interact with the environment. Despite being about magic, the magic forces themselves look pretty flat in appearance and animation.
This leads to battles. Unfortunately, while fighting is quick and can be satisfying, it doesn’t look the part. The UI is chunky with the text being tiny while the battlefield is large and empty. Both enemies and characters barely show any signs of life when using their strongest abilities or being hit with devastating attacks. The Overload mechanic of empowering repeated attacks is interesting, but doesn’t hit as hard as it could.
Powered by Magic and Machines
Magic and Machines is a 2D pixel RPG about getting a party together to go on a globe-trotting quest to recover elemental rocks. It has the heart, scale, and speed to perform well on mobile devices. It’s held back by all the technical and visual issues that could make it even greater. There’s still time to enhance and improve it before and after launch though, just so people can engage with the idea of magic and machines even more.