Magic: Legends is an action RPG developed by Cryptic Studios and published by Perfect World Games. Players take the role of planeswalkers, powerful magic users with the ability to cross between the various planes of the Multiverse, as they fight the forces of evil. Through their manipulation of magical forces known as mana, these mages do everything from summoning minions, command the elements, or even deprive their enemies of their very wills.
At first glance Magic: Legends comes off as yet another Diablo clone. But as I quickly learned from my PAX East demo, this game has a very engaging twist to its gameplay. This twist comes in the form of the player’s deck of spells.
Drawing inspiration from its source material Magic: The Gathering, players have a hand of cards representing spells their chosen character can cast. As one spell is used a new one replaces it. The player has access to five spells at a time and a total of twelve cards that they will rotate through over the course of a level. While the player may have four cards available to them, they can’t just cast them as they please. They must first generate the required amount of mana to power the spell. Mana is generated automatically over time. During the demo, all spells I had access to were of the same type of mana. However, it’s been stated that in the full build players will be able to have up to two types of mana in their deck.
Along with spells players also have a basic attack and a couple of quick cool down abilities. These abilities will change depending on which of the five playable characters the player chooses.
The gameplay follows the form that anyone familiar with the genre would expect. Swarms of minions quickly charge my character over the battlefield. To survive I quickly summon some minions of my own to keep the heat off my character personally. I follow up these summons with some gorgeous looking magic attacks. Huge jagged rocks rip from the ground and geysers of lava swirls around the battlefield, drawing in enemies and damaging them.
Every magic effect in Magic: Legends is executed beautifully. The visual design imbues the experience with a dynamic feeling that often is lacking in the genre. I have rarely felt so cool playing a video game.
After fighting through hordes of enemies I eventually make it to the demo’s boss. This fight goes fairly smoothly, as I’ve quickly gained a handle on the intuitive controls. As the demo came to an end I couldn’t wait to play more.
The last aspect of this demo that really impressed me was its use of setting and creatures. Any long time M:tG fans will notice plenty of recognizable places, enemies and spells. Serving Serra to thwart the evil Cabal in the lands of Dominara couldn’t be better implemented. But don’t worry. If the previous sentence did nothing for you but make your head spin there is no need to know what any of it is. The demo was clear with what was going on. The back knowledge is just a fun add-on if you are familiar with the history.
With gorgeous visuals, fun dynamic combat, and a world with lots to explore, Magic: Legends is poised to be an amazing game. With only a few lingering questions, the biggest being how monetization will work in this free to play game, this game is without a doubt one of my most anticipated games of the year.
Magic: Legends is scheduled for a 2020 release on PC Xbox One and PlayStation 4.