One night you have a dream. In this dream, a mysterious bird on a cliff tells you to get the four orbs and to bring them to him, thus beginning your quest in Secret of Magia.
I’ll admit, when I first saw the trailer for the game, it looked interesting. Legend of Zelda-like gameplay in the RPGMaker system. Unfortunately, after playing it, that’s about as interesting as the game gets.
As mentioned, the game starts with you having a dream about being told to go find these four orbs. When you wake up, a handy dandy pop-up appears saying to go to the well. You go to the well and get your hookshot. You have to now equip it in one extremely awkward menu and then use it to get across a gap. Once you finish the well, you receive your weapon license, allowing you to choose a class. Once you choose your class – I chose Paladin – you get no more instructions.
Secret of Magia features a whole five dungeons, four of them required to win. There are also a handful of sidequests you can do. These can reward you with items, or in one case, the item you need to get into the fire dungeon. The side quests have very little direction as to where to go, and even when they do give a little direction, good luck even reading the map.
The dungeons attempt to be like your typical Zelda dungeon. Get the boss key, go beat up boss. Oh wait, where’s the “complete fifty puzzles and fight a mini-boss” part from Zelda? Well, it isn’t there. You can almost always distinguish the enemy that gives the key as it will be unique in the area.
Combat is well… How do I describe it. It does try and get that Zelda-like feel going on, maybe with a hint of Secret of Mana or the Ys series too. What it fails at completely is the actual execution. Combat will almost always boil down to stepping to the side of where the boss can hit and then spamming attack. If you can’t step to the side, just spam attack. Heal when needed. Congratulations, you can now beat every boss in the game.
Now, of course, you don’t actually want to be fighting all that much. For who knows what reason, enemies in Secret of Magia scale with you leveling. Meaning, of course, you don’t want to level. The scaling is absolutely awful and the stats on enemies go up much faster than yours, even when you have upgraded equipment. This is a extremely disappointing as one of the best points for me in these types of games is just going around destroying all of the enemies.
Equipment upgrades are extremely hit or miss, mostly miss. You can buy an initial weapon in the first town and then use materials to upgrade in the second town. Hope you aren’t too attached to using the scythe though, as you can’t upgrade the scythe, it’s glitched out and doesn’t appear properly in the menu. Not that it really even matters, as you could just head to the third (fourth if you count an optional town) and buy a tier 3 weapon there. Armour does, in some ways, feel worth it. In fact, one extremely handy side quest to do involves killing a sea serpent that is terrorizing a beach. This fight rewards you with a scale which becomes a really good armour piece, and it’s not even that hard thanks to being able to just stand to its side and just start spamming attack!
Beyond the randomly non-upgradeable scythe, Secret of Magia has a few other coding issues. Be careful if you leave a dungeon if you’ve obtained the key and used it. The game will close the door back up, and while the enemy will be there again to kill, you can’t ever actually get the key again. Also, there are some buildings where you exit out at a completely different place from where you entered. I presume the abuse of the hitboxes is also not intended but it’s about the only thing that really made this game fun (or playable).
Secret of Magia showed some good promise in the trailer but completely failed to deliver. It’s also an extremely short title, having personally finished in one and a half hours with a lot of screwing around. If you want to play this style of game, Ys, the Mana series, and the Zelda series all do it better. You’re far better off avoiding this title completely. Oh, and did I mention that there are some horrible misspellings present? Yeah, there are. Just avoid Secret of Magia and play one of the better titles in this style that I mentioned above.
Secret of Magia Review
It had some good promise with the hookshot though that quickly became obsolete. There was also some good ideas in the different classes and being able to choose your gender. The story is just non-existent and I felt very disappointed when I finished. It overall just falls completely flat on its face of what could have been a fantastic idea.