Come, stay awhile and listen, as I tell you the story of a game that tries to be Diablo but fails horribly – Magician’s Apprentice.
Magician’s Apprentice is a Steam Early Access game that pulls a lot of inspiration from Diablo games. It’s an action RPG where you take the role of a fresh magician recruit at the Academy of Magic, and then are sent off to fight evil undead and sorceress. At the time of this writing, the game only has a Prologue available for play, and will last you around an hour.
As of this time, Magician’s Apprentice has one character class implemented – High Elven Capitan. While I’m not quite sure what a Capitan is (it appears to be a Mexican city), she’s got more issues going on besides the spelling of her title. Your first look at the character models and animations in this game are her, and she gives a horrible first impression. She has an around 2 second animation loop that looks extremely stiff, and her character model looks like someone slapped a lot of stuff together and then took MS Paint to her crotch.
After the initial story bits – hopefully you’re able to speed read as it scrolls extremely fast – you’re placed into the Academy of Magic. The story starts to make little to no sense at this point, and as you continue from the tutorial into the prologue, it continues to make no sense. You’re introduced to characters, given a lesson in magic casting, and then sent off to the town on an errand. You end up finding that a village has been destroyed and skeletons and zombies are now everywhere. The story drops into nothingness now as you aimlessly wander around this village until you manage to find the Unknown Sorcerer behind everything.
Magician’s Apprentice’s combat tries extremely hard to capture that Diablo feel – namely the feel of a Sorceress. The Health and Mana appears are pretty much exactly like Diablo, with the hotbars trying to in some way copy it as well. The actual execution is where this fails, however. Given that all your attacks are magic based, they wind up becoming extremely expensive if you want to actually do damage and hit multiple targets. You have no physical attack – at least none that I could find – so you often wind up either running around in circles spamming your attack button or just sitting there and tanking hits while things die. At this point, most enemies can hardly dent you, though the ones that can are REALLY able to dent you.
While you obtain more spells as you level up, in order to actually use them, you’ll need to set them into your skills (note: spells in the game are called “runes”). Spells (or “runes”) are set in a sequence for each hotkey along with the mouse buttons. Not all spells can start off a chain, and certain ones can actually end the “chain” and will only branch down instead of right. Depending on how many spells you set in this chain, the mana cost will increase. You can also increase the mana cost of spells by adding on special effects that you learn as you level up. While I still had enemies to kill, I never did actually manage to figure out what the best combination of skills were for that point, and I don’t really have the urge to replay the game. Mixing and matching is pretty limited, so sorry, no chaining Fire into Lightning. At least it didn’t work for me.
In its current state, Magician’s Apprentice is a bit of a hot mess. Movement is extremely shoddy – you’ve got 8 directions you can move in, and some types of stairs end up proving near impossible to go down between the hitboxes and your movement abilities. The prologue feels very underwhelming and managed to frustrate me more than entertain me. A lot of the frustration comes from the fact the game gives you no indication that “hey, you’ve finished all you can for now”, and the fact that the sound effects are pretty garbage and actually seem a bit laggy. Then there’s the spelling. For a game that boasts English as it’s only language, the writing looks very poorly translated from some other language. If you’re going to make English the only language, please get a proper proofreader for your work.
At this time, you are best off avoiding Magician’s Apprentice like the plague. At the current asking price of $10, there is not enough content to justify it. Even though anyone who buys it will receive all future updates (in other words, the rest of the game) for free, they also go and say that as the game is updated the price will increase. Even for a full game, unless you’re talking a fully polished 30-50 hour epic RPG, raising the price will only serve to frustrate people and turn them away from wanting to even buy the game. And while they state that updates will happen every “2-3 months” with the full version being available in Q1 2016, there has been absolutely no word from the developers in the Steam forums about future plans or responses to questions and bug reports.
Magician’s Apprentice Initial Thoughts
Avoid this game. Just avoid it.