First impressions of The Magister as demoed at PAX Online! Release date to be determined by Nerdook Productions | Digerati.
Format: PC via Steam
Every year I’m always excited for PAX and this year was no exception. With the PAX Online format, I’m pleased to be able to share with you my first impressions of several games, including The Magister. The Magister is an adventure RPG with rougelike random generation. Players have 14 days to solve the randomly generated murder of the village’s prior magister.
Players start off by selecting from a set of randomly generated magisters. Each has a starting specialty and skill. However each also comes with a notable flaw. The magister I choose suffered from hallucinations, meaning each battle there was a random chance an extra enemy would be generated that wasn’t really there. This ‘fake’ enemy would disappear as soon as they were hit, but otherwise behaved like other enemies.
Sometimes to get characters to cooperate with the player’s investigation, it’s necessary to use tactical diplomacy. This starts a turn-limited deckbuilding challenge where players start from a basic preset deck and must buy new cards using empathy and try to reduce the other character’s rage to zero. Players can choose slow but consistent cards that focus on listening and small talk or can gamble with high-risk high-rewards cards that intimidate.
Often tactical diplomacy is not an option, and players must use combat instead. Combat can be used to force some characters to do what the player wants and other times combat is necessary when traveling. Combat uses a square grid and the player’s combat deck which can be improved over the course of the game. There’s also a timeline that keeps track of what characters act next and taking complex turns means the character will have to wait longer before they can act again.
As the player gathers information about the murder, they must travel to and unlock a number of locations around the village and surrounding area. Each travel takes one time unit (there are 7 per day) and many locations are different or not accessible at certain times. Traveling outside the village risks encounters with enemies such as bandits, wolves, and worse, particularly at night.
Overall, I’m very intrigued by The Magister. The idea of a rougelike murder mystery appeals to me greatly. I found both the combat and tactical diplomacy enjoyable and felt the dialog options and character relationships had meaning. Though one thing that bothered me was that during dialog and tactical diplomacy, only 1/4th of the screen was used in order to keep the view of the surroundings up. Many of the damage cards also did not seem to have meaning differences. I’m very curious to see how much variety there is between runs of the final game.
Have you found anything you’re excited about at PAX Online?
Let me know in the comments below!