Magicite is a rogue like platformer that mixes elements of exploration and survival. Developer SmashGames drew inspiration from Monster Hunter and Spelunky to create a merciless platformer that will challenge players. The game recently left Steam’s Early Access program, but is still being actively updated thanks to funds raised through Kickstarter.
Magicite does not have a story. However, the townsfolk in between levels do have a few things to say. That little bit of writing that contributes to a surprisingly light-hearted game, considering the unforgiving difficulty level.
Fans of Spelunky will be right at home. Magicite draws from Spelunky’s merciless platforming chops and mixes it with a survival system popularized by Minecraft and throws in a dash of RPG gameplay mechanics for good measure. Players will kick off the game by creating their character. At the start, players will have extremely limited customization choices. Besides a few cosmetic choices, players can only roll random stats and two random traits. After a few solid runs, more customization options will be unlocked. New races, hats, and companions will provide some extra bonuses that will make the game a bit easier. Each race has a different set of starting equipment with some tweaked stats, hats impart special effects, and companions provide a passive bonus. There is enough variety that players will be able to create preferred builds for solo runs, group play, and so forth.
Once character creation is out of the way, players will be teleported to the forest biome with a few items based on their race. Each level is randomly generated, meaning success is based on a whole load of skill and a little bit of luck. At the end of each level, players will be presented with three possible biome choices that are randomly generated. Between the levels, players will visit a small town where they can purchase supplies, sell unneeded items, and craft equipment. As they level up, they will gain more stats and have access to three branches of skills: melee, magic, and ranged. Characters are able to wield up to three skills, and all three are assigned randomly from a pool. Magic seems to be the toughest of the three paths, as finding the items to craft staffs is more challenging than melee weapons or arrows.
Players will need to harvest resources to manage hunger and craft tools while surviving against numerous traps and hostile creatures. Crafting is a relatively simple affair. Tools can be made by combining two other items together. The system is very simple and there are only a small handful of combinations to memorize as many are repeated with different grades of ore. Unlike similar crafting based games, it is not necessary to have a wiki page open on a second monitor to keep track of all the crafting recipes in Magicite. The equipped items are crafted with the help of NPCs in the towns between levels. The NPC-based recipes are equally simple, mixing a base material with different grades of ore. Overall, Magicite’s recipes are designed to emphasize smart resource management, whether alone or in groups, versus complex crafting systems. I find solo play to focus more on inventory management as there is a surplus of resources with limited inventory slots, while more teammates turns the balance towards spreading a very limited amount of resources among the group.
Magicite is a tough game. In this sense, it is clear that developer SmashGames took a page from Spelunky. Health pools are low and potions are scarce. Bringing friends can make things a little easier as downed players can be revived in group play. On the flip side, more people means managing knockback in combat is a little more difficult. Reviving friends triggers a three second timer which leaves the reviver vulnerable. Strangely enough, if the reviver dies during that cooldown, the revive will still go through. I am not completely sure if this is intentional or this is a glitch.
The controls in Magicite are strictly keyboard and mouse based. The keyboard is used for moving, while the mouse is used for interacting and aiming. The controls are tight and responsive, which is a must for a platformer this challenging. Personally, I am not a fan of the default bindings for the dash keys, but the keys are easily rebound.
Magicite is deliciously retro with its own unique flair thanks to the square shaped characters and vibrant colours. The game’s darkened backgrounds help give that extra pop to Magicite’s colour palette. The game scales up to high resolutions very well and runs without any major hiccups.
Like its visuals, Magicite’s audio is retro inspired. Curiously, there is no menu music, but once the game kicks off, players are greeted with a solid chiptune soundtrack. Magicite’s sound effects would fit right at home on the SNES and other 16-bit systems.
Magicite is a fantastic game. It is challenging, chock full of replayability, and loads of fun. The audio and visuals are highly polished. The controls are extremely responsive and SmashGames expertly mixes survival, platforming, rogue-like, and RPG elements into one slick package. Magicite is a must play for co-op fans, platformer nuts, and anyone who likes a challenge.
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