Megamagic: Wizards of the Neon Age (PC) Review

By Brandon Howard 28.05.2016

Review for Megamagic: Wizards of the Neon Age on PC

Megamagic: Wizards of the Neon Age can best be described as a single-player real-time strategy game, and it bears more than a passing resemblance to the Diablo series in terms of gameplay. Where BeautiFun Games' newest title really strikes a unique chord is through its bright, Saturday morning cartoon aesthetic. Bringing the best of 80s and 90s nostalgia to Steam, Megamagic has more than enough tricks up its sleeve.

From the first seconds of the opening cut-scene, Megamagic: Wizards of the Neon Age feels like a crossover special from the early 90s era of animation. It's bright, it's flashy, it's totally shameless and absolutely endearing. If nothing else, it's got its aesthetic down pat, with tons of references, a catchy electronic soundtrack, and techno-punk visuals that never feel out of place.

The story doesn't quite enjoy the same luxuries, and the first few chapters, in particular, are something of a chore to get through. The tutorial starts off with a mysterious man escorting his two sons through a monster-infested suburb, and while it serves as a good way to introduce players to the basic game mechanics, it doesn't set up the rest of the plot very well. It does introduce several major characters, but it also poses several questions that take a maddening long time to answer.

Screenshot for Megamagic: Wizards of the Neon Age on PC

Phoban, one of the two sons from the opening cut-scene, is the main character, as evidenced from his ever-present goggles, the true 90s sign of the protagonist. After taking a test to become an apprentice wizard at a local temple, his best friend, an ever-present magic cloud known as Fum, is recognised as a powerful magical creature, and the pair quickly becomes renegades from the Order, the council that governs magic.

What makes early chapters tedious (although it does continue to be a problem throughout) is that the environments are often larger than they need to be, given the scope of the story and game. There's a lot of areas to explore, but for the most part, there's nothing to be gained from exploration. There's a lot of fluff going from one area to the next, and it's more than a little annoying when you're simply trying to progress.

The unnecessary padding is the biggest problem with Megamagic. There are multiple areas where random gameplay elements, such as stealth or running sections, occur, only to never reappear in the game. These sections do little more than break the main flow of gameplay, and they do so in a way that breaks the engagement from the story and the gameplay alike.

Screenshot for Megamagic: Wizards of the Neon Age on PC

The game is described as being role-playing with strategy elements, and that's exactly what it is. While Phoban himself can wield a variety of elemental spells, he can also summon monsters to fight with him. Primarily, Phoban casts buffs or damage spells, while his minions take the brunt of enemy attacks. It's possible to control the minions separately, ordering them to attack specific enemies or adopt certain roles, but the system isn't super intuitive overall, and it's generally easier to let the AI handle it while Phoban sits back doing the spell-slinging.

The gameplay systems also contribute to the game's slow start. Of the twenty spells and sixteen creatures available, only a very limited amount are available through the first few chapters, and a lot of the early abilities aren't super useful early on or ever. After the world opens up, and more options for spell and creature loadouts become available, it's a lot more fun to experiment with different playstyles, and that's where it really starts coming into its own.

Screenshot for Megamagic: Wizards of the Neon Age on PC

The often too-big environments are still a problem, as there's little in the way of side-questing to be done. There are four temples where Phoban can learn specific disciplines of magic, granting him a powerful state to cast empowered spells, but there's little reason to venture off the main path. That is, until halfway through the game when Phoban receives discs that have to be decoded at eleven computer stations around the map. This wouldn't be too bad if there was a quick travel option, or some way of moving around the world better, but tracking down each station for a bit of lore can be a chore.

Despite that, there's something about Megamagic: Wizards of the Neon Age that keeps the story interesting and the gameplay fun enough to make it worth playing through to the end, even if it does end abruptly. The backstory of the world is surprisingly deep, and there are some genuinely likable (if not somewhat cliché) characters you'll encounter throughout. The aesthetics and gameplay all come together, even if it does take a while to get off the ground.

Screenshot for Megamagic: Wizards of the Neon Age on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Megamagic is surprisingly deep and enjoyable after its noticeably slow start. The gameplay itself only improves as more diverse spells and playstyles become available, and the story is engaging enough to keep you invested in it through the roughly ten hours it'll take to complete. There are some spots where the maps and gameplay could have been tightened up a bit, and the story could have used a little more dialogue and exposition overall. Despite its shortcomings, it's an impressive adventure that RTS fans definitely won't want to miss, and the story is captivating enough that a sequel would be welcomed.

Developer

BeautiFun Games

Publisher

BeautiFun Games

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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