ICYMI: Life is Magic
“Life is Magic” from Red Robot Games is a free iOS and Android MMO that uses geo-location to populate your world. A game with a gorgeous art style and crisply animated sprites that pop off of your screen make this game something pretty new to handheld devices. When you start the game you have the ability to pick between three archetypes. The Monk, Machinist, and Mage are at your disposal, each with strengths that range from magic specialties to melee combat.
What I believe sets this game apart is how deep the gameplay is. It incorporates many systems that we have become accustomed to in the MMO space and transitions them to the small screen with ease. You can travel across the actual world via “Travel Tokens” that you accrue in your dungeon crawls and find various weapons, armor and treasure. Whatever you find can be equipped, sold or gifted to other characters in or around your vicinity or in your party.
Players can join your game via an invite system and help you battle it out against a varied range of mythical creatures. These creatures are held within level-based dungeons. These catacombs of doom each contain ten levels to complete and hold one of the game’s coolest gameplay systems.
Each dungeon is based on a risk/reward setup: for every level you complete you are shown the loot you’ve obtained for killing that room’s beast. You are then given a choice to leave with your loot to fight another day or go deeper into the dungeon. The deeper you go, the harder the enemies are and the better the loot gets. This adds so much to the gameplay because it pits you against one of man’s oldest questions: do I manage my health or go for more gold and equipment?
Whether you cut and run or fight to the death, you can use your new-found goods to purchase or upgrade your gear in one of the geo-located shops around where you are at the time. The map is laid out just the way a GPS would display it but with a fantasy theme on top. If you are looking for health potions, go to your local super market or bodega (say it with me bo-de-ga). Need new weapons or armor? Head to your local hardware store or, in my neighborhood, weave emporium. It was a ingenious idea of how to populate a world and it pays off even more when you travel to different places because it gives you a sense of everything around you in the real world.
Battles are turn-based and fluid, each move is beautifully drawn and sounds great. Strategies abound to use and figure out. I might have missed it but I would have loved if there was s digital manual somewhere within the app for more advanced gameplay tactics. Most of it you’ll find via trial and error and I guess that is most of the fun.
Lastly, since the game is based on the free-to-play model, there is only a certain amount of adventuring you can do per day, unless you are lucky enough to level up during a play session. You will notice a numbered meter in the upper right hand side of the screen with a lightning bolt symbol. These points seem to be the game’s action points. Open a dungeon or go deeper and you use some. Have a jaunty discussion with a barmaid, lose some more. It’s an artificial barrier that most games of this ilk seem to employ but I understand it. There are also ways around it…if you want to spend real world money. If you die during a battle but want to keep your loot, you can spend ten lightning points or spend money to buy some more. You can totally get most of what you want for free but there is a business model for the developers if you want to invest in the game.
Life is Magic is a great game, especially because you can tell that the folks over at Red Robot Games had a very focused idea of what they were trying to build and the world they wanted to create. That focus has produced one of the best looking and fun mobile MMO experiences I’ve played in a long time. In case you missed it you should really get your hands on this game.