Magus Review (PS3)

As a fairly ambiguous PSN game from a small-time studio, chances are this is the first time you’ve heard of Magus. Developed by the Tokyo-based Black Tower Studios, it combines elements from both the role playing and shooting genres to create a unique albeit underwhelming hybrid.

As far as the story goes, players don the role of a generic, skin-headed mute who also happens to be a God with unmatched arcane power. After breaking out of a dungeon, you must gather your companions and rid the realm of an impending evil.

In short the narrative is nothing more than filler, wedged between Magus’ awkward bouts of gameplay. Several hours into the game and you’re still unlikely to know just what is going on and why. To make matters worse the game serves up an anemic helping of secondary characters, none of whom bring anything interesting to the table. It’s a shame, yes, but then again if Black Tower were to conjure up a rich backstory and lore, it would be a wasted effort.

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This is solely due to Magus’ primitive gameplay. After fleeing the dungeon, players are given access to a hub, complete with a smattering of zones they can visit in any desired order. Aside from a few cosmetic tweaks, however, there are no real differences between them. Some are slightly more linear than others but the end result is still the same with players scouting for keys, unlocking gates, and taking down boss characters.

Gameplay in Magus can be likened to that of most third person shooters during the PS2 era. Using three different magic types – each with two attacks – players will find themselves idly strafing in circles, watching their enemies eventually crumble before them.

Green, Blue, and Red are the three schools of magic the game has to offer and, through levelling up, an increasing catalogue of spells will become available under each one. These include abilities such as damage-over-time attacks as well as quick heals and the power to summon companions. The big drawback, however, is that only three can be assigned to the face buttons at one time. Not only that, they can also prove pretty useless, a number of them having no value whatsoever.

The only redeeming quality Magus has to offer is its role-playing mechanics. Without a levelling system and loot, there would be literally no incentive to proceed after the first ten minutes. The repetitive missions and waves of enemies are a slog, sure, though these RPG staples help things move along. Players can equip themselves with a myriad of armour pieces, gems, and runes, boosting a number of in-game stats.

What’s Good:

  • Some unique, yet poorly-executed, ideas.

What’s Bad:

  • Looks incredibly outdated.
  • Flat story, vacant protagonist.
  • Gameplay is the epitome of repetitiveness.
  • Steep pricing.

As touched on before, Magus occasionally brings back memories of last-last gen, and not in a particularly good way. NPC models are repeated far too often, environments are flat and featureless, and animations are rudimentary. Combine this with lacklustre cutscenes, dialogue, and sound design and there really seems little hope for the game at all.

Though Magus isn’t a complete write-off, it has very limited appeal in an era dominated by outstanding visuals and flawless gameplay systems, especially hovering at the £20-mark. It may explore some interesting ideas but, ultimately, Magus is a disappointing first co-development venture for publisher Aksys.

Score: 3/10

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2 Comments

  1. Aww… Jim. I actually feel sorry for you, for having to play through it for review!

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