The Magic Circle Review: GO TEAM QA

April 30th, 2016 -

In recent years, breaking the fourth wall and the concept of “meta” has become pretty popular. So naturally, it was only a matter of time until a game that was about making a game that was left in development hell and forced you to finish it from the inside out eventually graced our hardened gaming hearts – is there a more convoluted way to say that? So, how exactly does a game like that play out? Well, think of an environment that isn’t completely finished – textures aren’t applied, dead ends, seemingly pointless areas, developer logs noting the issues of certain parts of the game… it’s all in there. And to go along with it, you’ll be faced with the humans that are creating the game, who are viewed as gods. Think Users from Tron. Of course, if there are Users, there must be Programs…


The game is very puzzle centric, with obstacles that you’ll often overcome by hacking the objects around you. Now, when I say hacking, I don’t mean you’ll be writing code like Quadrilateral Cowboy (someday…), or even getting into the more difficult gameplay of Hack ‘n’ Slash. Rather, you’ll look at a screen that says whether an object attacks, moves, has a special ability, who it considers friend or foe, and you can either edit those values or strip the object for parts, as it were. All the words you collect can be used on another object – so if you see a rock is fireproof, but don’t feel like making that rock sentient for killing an enemy that spews fire, you can apply it to one of your other pets that, hopefully, attacks. Dead or alive, it doesn’t matter, as you are able to bring anything back to life. Speaking of life and death, you can expect to die in order to solve puzzles. In the game world, when an object is created, it is there for good. While you can delete it, it still has a presence that you can detect and bring back, or in the event of you dying, interact with in the afterlife.


The voice acting in the game is wonderful, although I couldn’t help but imagine the people themselves or existing characters two of them play. James Urbaniak is Doctor Venture. He always will be to me, so unless he does something different with his voice, that’s who I imagine every time I hear him (yes, I know he has worked on many other characters – shut up). Ashly Burch is… well, she’s Ash. While great at creating different voices, as seen in Borderlands (Tiny Tina is probably my favorite character), it’s still recognizably Ash. Stephen Russell has played notable characters in games (Nick Valentine in Fallout 4 most notably in the past year), but I don’t have a particular image for him in the game. And I like that – he is the disembodied voice that is guiding you – not a character that belongs in another universe. Karen Dyer is another character that’s voice keeps me in the game’s world. It’s recognizable, but not to the point of being distracting.

In regards to how the game is set up, you can expect it to be linear at first, and later branch into a more explorative realm. You’ll come across obstacles you can’t figure out, and go elsewhere to find a solution. Luckily, the game offers many solutions to a single problem. While it isn’t quite the limit of your imagination, your imagination will definitely help with solving some of the puzzles. Graphically speaking, as mentioned before, the game looks very incomplete. While this is intentional, it can become grating after a while. The game parodies the development of a game quite well, and if you’ve ever worked on a game with a team, you’ll either really enjoy the dialogue or fall into a quiet rage, weeping to yourself as you wish you never had to relive that experience. Either way, it does what it sets out to do.


The Magic Circle is a great look into what its like for game developers, albeit a parody, for those that have wondered what goes into making a game. For people that think it’s all fun and games (no pun intended), they can see the pain, drama, and backstabbing that goes on in certain teams. Obviously this mentality is not exclusive to games – many industries suffer these issues. But to see it play out in an interactive format that so many people think is a dream job of making money the easy way is eye-opening. It’s a short, but enlightening and fun experience that you likely haven’t had before.



  • Stellar Voice Acting
  • Multiple Solutions to Puzzles
  • Writing When it Works…


  • And When it Doesn’t

The Magic Circle was developed and published by Question. The game launched on PC July 9th, 2015, PS4 on April 26th, 2016, and X1 in the near future for $19.99. The game was provided to us for review on PS4. If you’d like to see more of The Magic Circle, check out the official site.


Here at FFoP we use a rating method that you may be unfamiliar with, so allow us to clarify. When we review a game, we see what sort of BRA fits. Buy, Rent, or Acquire is the rating we give out – we’ve boiled it down for simplicity. A Buy is worth the full retail value; a Rent is something you may want to try before you buy, or grab at a discount; an Acquire is something you can play, but we’d suggest borrowing it from someone, grabbing it in a game bundle, or some other means. If you want further clarification, please feel free to get in touch.

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