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Old School, But Not Always Better for It

Shannon Doyle Posted:
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Do you remember when games used to be hard? When most games were played on a console and were heart-poundingly intense? Gameguyz, the makers of Magic Barrage clearly do. And they built the game to be a salute to what many people say was a better time in gaming. R2 Games remembers this time fondly as well and stepped forward as the publishers of this intense, some may even say manic shooter RPG.

Start Magic Barrage by picking one of three classes that are immediately available, or pay to have one of the other five classes unlocked early. Just don’t go in expecting to customize your character. The look you get depends on the class you pick. And even something as simple as picking your gender is off the cards. There is a short tutorial to get you started on your way before you’re thrust into the action for real. Once inside, uncover an oddly addicting and charming game that will have you coming back for more time and time again and happy to ignore any minor slights it may have. Anyone looking for something a little different from everything else in the market should give Magic Barrage a try.

Aesthetics: 7/10

Magic Barrage purposely has a retro, early gaming graphic style that is highly pixelized. Though some may dislike the old school feel it is an important part of what makes this game so charming. Unfortunately the screen is very crowded with the UI. This can be limited some with the ability to hide things like the quest log. But you do get the feeling of being boxed in and slightly claustrophobic. Though 8-bit music has a history of being annoying and clawing the soundtrack for Magic Barrage is upbeat and somewhat addictive, something you actually enjoy listening to and find yourself humming along to while you’re selling your latest loot.

Gameplay: 5/10

Combat in Magic Barrage is both incredibly complex and amazingly simplistic. The “bullet hell” style can be overwhelming at times. With magical shots coming at you from every direction, if you can’t keep a level head you’ll find your health drops fast. But shooting back isn’t as mind destroying. Just Press R to start the automated shooting, aim and when your bigger attacks recharge hit the right number. Crafting is confusing and there is no guide to help you. So you’re forced to stumble your way through it. The game heavily relies on instances, which means that the game is a pretty lonely place outside of the city. But the dungeons, which are accessed through portals can be done solo, so there is no need to worry about being alone. Rewards for completing dungeons are based on your performance and at the end of every run you’re given a grade. There are also arena battles and pets to play with to get a change of pace.

Innovation: 2/10

Nothing about Magic Barrage is really innovative. Instead the entire game is a call back to a time when games weren’t as easy. When something that looked very simple was far more complex than you expected. But don’t mistake this as a negative. While there aren’t any innovative features it is completely unlike most anything else on the market today simply because tastes and styles have moved on. However, it's clearly a riff on the indie MMO Realm of the Mad God, which makes its throwback style seem even more derivative.

Polish: 6/10

This is a very solid game with no bugs immediately apparent. And while you’re standing in the city you’re likely to see tips on how to do things which may not seem obvious. It has quite a few short comings though. The English isn’t always the best, and there aren’t really any instructions on how to play beyond the basics of movement and combat. Though both of these do fit in with the retro theme they are also things that really aren’t tolerated anymore and don’t feel like they were done intentionally. The UI crowding gives the entire experience the feeling of being incomplete. There are several ways it could be streamlined to make it more attractive with the use of menus and chat tabs.

Longevity: 5/10

People looking for a modern browser based MMO experience will be sorely disappointed in Magic Barrage. But anyone looking for a solid retro gaming experience will find a long life playing Magic Barrage. And with several classes available there is some replay-ability to the game. The intense and constant barrage will keep you on the edge of your seat. This is not a game to play right before bed.

Social: 6/10

Magic Barrage has a pretty standard chat system that is mostly used for advertisements or people yelling out random inanities. Making friends is quite easy and you’re invited to make a friend in one of the very early quests. Best of all thanks to the UI you can actually see little images of your friends and of others when they’re nearby. This makes identifying and finding your friends so much easier. All MMOs with high populations should consider something like this. You can also see people who aren’t your friends in this little UI box. That way when you are out in secluded areas and there are people in range they’ll display. There are guilds and they seem to be a very popular feature with pages upon pages of them listed for you to pick which one you want.

Value: 8/10

You really get your money’s worth with this game. It is free to play and though there is a store and there are things that make gameplay somewhat better none of it is required and it doesn’t feel at all like a pay to win game. Players can easily go their entire gaming experience in Magic Barrage without ever spending a penny.

Everything about Magic Barrage takes you back in time to the early years of gaming. With catchy music, terrifying bosses and an intensity that is lacking in more modern games. If you approach it as a modern game you will be disappointed. And if you’re too young to remember the early days you might find it a bit old school. Perhaps a refreshing change of pace, or just strange. But take it as the homage to the era that it is and it becomes a well-crafted game that is well worth spending time in. Magic Barrage won’t be for everyone. But if you enjoy high intensity, edge of your seat gameplay, a challenge, or are even the type to laugh as your car goes wildly out of control in a racing game then you owe it to yourself to give this one a go. 

5.6 Average
  • Accessible on any PC
  • Intense gameplay
  • Retro graphics
  • Few directions
  • No customization options
  • Poor English in spots


Shannon Doyle