Let me start off by saying this: The Magic Circle: Gold Edition is one of the most unique ideas for a game that I’ve ever played. We all have played games that we have deemed “unfinished” or said that they could have used more time in the over to bake but The Magic Circle bases itself around this idea. You are a character in a game that is in development hell and you have to try and finish it from the inside. Sounds interesting doesn’t it?
The gameplay in the game is most similar to what most people call “walking simulators” but that isn’t all you will be doing in the game. If you want action you will be glad to know there are combat encounters although it won’t be you fighting and there are some puzzle solving bits as well. You play as someone who was testing the game but you find yourself trapped inside it. You then are introduced to the various members of the team that are designing the game and they are depicted as these giant eyes floating around the game world. You get to hear them argue back and forth about what they should do to finish the game and what kinds of things should be put into it. You then meet another character who was also trapped in the game a long time ago and you two have to work together to try and escape.
The dialog in the game is one of the high points for sure as you spend so much of it listening to the design team argue and the former tester you’re working with known as PRO talk to you. The game made me laugh as well if you like the humor found in things such as Monty Python you’ll probably enjoy this too. Graphics wise the game world is mostly black and white only but there are moments when you have a little bit of color. Regardless of that everything is well drawn so that even though it is black and white it still looks good.
You move through this unfinished world by walking and jumping but one of the interesting things you can do you learn about when you find your first crack. In these you can absorb power that then lets you fill in unfinished pieces of the world. You may come upon a bridge that isn’t there yet but by using your powers you’ll be able to fill it in. Another neat feature is the ability to capture creatures in the world. You first shoot a creature the same way you fill in areas in the world and then get this you can edit their properties. You can change how they move about the world, how they attack, set who they identify as an enemy. You can also name them whatever you want. Certain creatures even have different abilities that when trapped then unlock for you to use and give to another creature if you so choose. You’ll need to use these creatures as well to solve some of the games puzzles and you can direct them later in the game in the direction that you want. Should you leave one of your creature friends behind you can bring up the in game map and summon them to your current location. Handy for sure.
The game isn’t really long but it will either be shorter or longer for you depending on how much you explore. My first time through the game took me around 5 hours but I’m sure you could finish it in around 2 or 3 if you were just trying to get through it. Trying to collect everything or unlock all of the achievements will lengthen the game for sure. I do wish it was a bit longer and more fleshed out as it’s such an original idea for a game and I would have liked to play more. I also wish that you the player could engage in more actual combat instead of letting your creatures do it for you. Also a problem I have with many of these kind of games is that there isn’t a run button. The walking speed isn’t terrible like some other games but a run button would have been appreciated.
Overall if you are looking for something original and funny I can’t recommend The Magic Circle: Gold Edition enough. Getting to play through a story about a game in development hell is unique and unlike anything else out there right now. The voice acting is done well and being able to change the properties of the creatures and things in the game is pretty fun too. It has some issues but if you can look past those minor flaws you’ll find a great experience here.
*Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.