MageStory in Review – There’s a little Gandalf in all of us

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You know, Diablo for the iPhone has been long sought by many players and devs. Today, we’ll take a look at the variation on the Hack-and-Slash genre by MageStory which was released back in June 2009. Is it worth the dough? Is it better than Dungeon Hunter? Well, stay tuned to find out!

MageStory has you play an old and experienced mage who is on his way home from a hard life’s work of teaching students in the local magic school. While passing through a remote village, you chance upon the story of a nearby crystal dungeon and naturally, you explore!

The game positions itself as a classic Diablo-style RPG game. You basically go around killing endless mobs. The several included quests really pass by quickly and without much effect on gameplay. You go where you can and kill what you can; consider it a pseudo sand-box hack RPG.

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MageStory is called an RPG by its developers, but unfortunately they appear to be excessively bold about it. There is really no aspects of role-playing anywhere in the game. There is NO character development whatsoever. No skill or stats! You gain EXP and level-up after some monster killing, but the only thing this affects is your health bar and whether you have access to the cave/dungeon (opened at level 6). And that’s it!

You may say, what about spells? Well, the spells are bought at the local merchant. There are only 8 spells, 4 fire based and 4 wind based. They range from simple bolts to fire walls and tornados. There is no mana in the game, rather you have to buy pages and “charge” the spell books with them. Pages are school specific. A variety of potions to restore health is also available for sale as well as a “town portal” feather. Mind you, it is only one way.

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The interface provides an interesting concept. You walk by touching the relative spot on the screen and cast spells also by touching a spot, but holding the cast button with a second finger. To allow better use of fingers on both hands there is a cast spell button on each side of the screen. Spells are selected by previously tapping on the required spell book. And while this looks fine in theory, in the heat of battle it simply doesn’t work out that well. As soon as you start casting spells, you stop moving and get overrun. With the limited area of sight on the iPhone and quite fast enemy movement, the gameplay is reduced to finding a bunch of enemies and furiously tapping on the encroaching mob, mixing it up with potion drinking. And once you meet enemies with ranged attacks it really becomes no fun at all.

One thing I can about MageStory is that the graphics are great. The style is very close to Diablo 1 and 2 and the detail is excellent. The music and sound effects also warrant only praise. The performance is excellent as well, no lags noted whatsoever on the 3G.

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Overall, the game feels more of a test of the graphics engine, than of a Diablo-clone. The gameplay is boring, and in the world of RPGs, or even pseudo RPGs, the lack of character development is killer. The spells are poorly balanced, with the third tier spells clearly not enough for the dungeon and tier 4 spells still being too expensive to buy. One thing worth noting is that the game has support for Wi-Fi multiplayer, but I doubt you’ll be able to find any companions for it. I even doubt you’ll want to. But still it may be worth a go for only 99 pennies, though there are lots of better ways to spend your hard-saved cash.

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App Summary
Title:MageStory (v.1.11)Developer:VeryPixel Inc.
Price:$0.99App Size:33.1 MB
  • Amazing graphics and effects
  • Wonderfull music and sfx
  • Boring and repetitive gameplay
  • No character development
  • Only 8 spells
  • Rather clunky interface

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