This weekend saw me delve into The Magic Circle, a shamefully overlooked indie game from 2015. It’s a good single sitting game, clocking in at ~3 hours, though that could be expanded upon in some sections depending on how creative you want to get.
The Magic Circle sets itself up as an unfinished game, a sequel to a beloved adventure 20 years in the making. As the player, your job is to move through the unfinished game by delving into enemies and changing their variables - make a mushroom follow you around and fight for you, steal the fire blasting power of a flame ball and attach it to a drone. The possibility space is quite large and fun to toy with. As you work your way through the world, you experience the back and forth of the original creator, a long time employee and a new passionate intern, as they work to try and “finish” the game for release. The game itself, however, has other ideas.
The mechanic of manipulating the game from within itself is intriguing in itself, but it was that human story that drew me in. Especially cast in the light of the last few years, the back and forth of creator-employee-fan is a tough one to grapple with. What are reasonable expectations for a fan to have? How does a creator build upon their past, and how do they cope with “bigger and better” expectations?
Chris Kohler’s article over on Wired was what got me to purchase this game in the first place, and it stays just as relevant as ever. The Magic Circle is a lot of things, but at it’s heart it is a game about building a game, and everything that goes along with that. The human cost - the fan outrage, the developer clashes, the sacrifices - all are on display here.
The saddest part is that the people that would benefit the most by playing this game, are the people that wouldn’t even give it a second glance.
Games Left to Play: 105
Budget Remaining for 2018: $300