Magia: Charma Saga is a new IP from Nexon that is set to make some buzz. Developed by new outfit Super Acid for mobile devices, here is a game that does justice to its name. It’s utterly charming, the world is magical, and it is bound to be the first of a series if it finds the success it deserves.
The most arresting thing about Magia: Charma Saga is how it looks. First impressions count, and when you see the smooth and colorful characters jumping and kicking, with all those flashy effects filling the screen, you’re sold. It’s like a marriage between Odin Sphere and Dragon’s Crown that gave birth to a gorgeous, lovely offspring. To stand out among the myriad of bogus games and asset flipping that sadly thrives in mobile devices, one truly must go the extra mile and deliver an outstanding game. Such as this one.
Magia: Charma Saga has soft-launched in five regions: Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Philippines. It is pretty much the finished product, but a few options such as PvP are still pending, planned for a release in the shape of an update during the coming months.
Channeling the Inner Dragon
Magia: Charma Saga begins with a short prelude setting up the world and the story. A young warrior name Luthur and his faithful companion creature Lux are at the boundary of their strength while facing a gruesome amalgam of souls fueled by Charma. This warrior was trying to reach Yggdrasil – a recurrent theme in video games, as you probably know – to save and purify it, but he ultimately succumbs and is helped by a mysterious mage.
This leads us to the character selection screen, where our four notable heroes are chilling out. Aiden Rutelan is the Magic Swordsman and the easiest point of entry for this game, as you slice and dice enemies with his sword; the alluring Caleera is a Battle Mage with pyromancy skills, and she can channel the strength of a dragon for a short time; Leta Vinis is the Spirit Magician, but don’t let her frail appearance fool you as she is quite a seasoned magic user; finally, there’s the Guardian Knight, a character that is yet to be released, but he seems to trust his life to his reliable shield.
I decided to go with Caleera, because she is fiery – there’s a not so subtle double entendre in there – and her array of mid and long-range skills is useful in most situations. Channeling the power of a dragon for a few seconds also comes in handy, as it reduces skill cooldown time in a considerable way.
I’m certain that the inevitable question that looms in your mind is likely “is Magia: Charma Saga a real game or another one of those auto-play grind fest mobile games?” Do not fret, as this is a proper game that requires… gasps… skill. There is no time to breathe during the side-scrolling action segments, as you are often surrounded by despicable creatures of varied sizes and abilities, with a powerful boss often waiting for you at the end. But the downside is that it includes some of the inherent vices from most mobile games, including combat power rating, loot boxes (for weapons, armor and materials), and gear enhancing and refining. Nonetheless, I didn’t find any of this aggravating during my playthrough and always found out a way of progressing without resorting to the good old wallet.
Before I forget, I do have to mention that Magia: Charma Saga does include an auto-play option. Still, you can only use it to repeat stages that you have previously completed, to grind some measly extra experience points, materials and in-game currency. If you really want to amass that XP, you are advised to investigate the Bounties on offer, as this is the best way to evolve beyond the main adventure missions. The best thing about Bounties is that you can take an idle approach to it (Bounties begin at about half an hour until completion but steadily increase in duration) or take the matter into your hands and play through the stage – it’s your choice.
Being a hero can be tiresome and thankfully someone acknowledged it in this game, hence the existence of your very own butler, Clove. You can ask him to research Relics, a nice way to earn some extra materials, but further updates will make him more versatile, allowing him to cook as well – probably some kind of crafting mechanic. He also earns experience, making him faster at his job, and if you don’t fancy the name Clove you can always rebaptize him – Alfred sounds like a catchy moniker, don’t you think?
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Smite Them
You won’t be traveling alone – Lux is your Spirit Beast companion, a cute cat-rabbit mix that feels like a close relative to the main character from Ori and the Blind Forest. She doesn’t do much besides following you around and collecting Charma from defeated enemies. You can purify this Charma to get some materials or use it to transform Lux into a different kind of beast – a Gilded Owl, for example. Lux also serves as a narrative element, frequently exchanging opinions and tips with the main character.
Your hero starts the adventure with four skills and one fixed ultimate. As you progress, you will unlock new skills, which you can also level up by using different Runes. Finding and equipping the skills that best suit your gameplay style is vital, but you can rest assured that with four options readily available, you won’t feel stumbled during your confrontations.
Let’s not ignore Adventurer’s Talents as well. By completing achievements, you earn Talent points which you can spend on various significant buffs. Increasing the experience rate is a given, but other things such as increasing gold, attack stats and maximum health points should also be taken under consideration. Magia: Charma Saga may feature bold and spectacular action stages, but it doesn’t entirely dismiss the tangled web of mobile game mechanics that will endlessly keep you tapping for your life, moving from menu to menu, trying to clear all the notifications that pop up in every corner. But for once, you’ll feel that it is all worthwhile.
Despite all the busywork, Magia: Charma Saga’s meat of the matter lies in its action phases. The side-scrolling action unfolds with remarkable smoothness, highlighting the impressive art design and solid 2D brawler mechanics. While there is only one plane to move on, verticality quickly plays an important role in the game, with various platforms to fight upon.
There is an agreeable degree of freedom to combat. Using your four skills to perform combos provides enough variety, something that gets an extra layer of depth due to the aerial combat, with double jumps and dashes. Each stage has a time limit and striving for the best ranking will yield better rewards.
Magia: Charma Saga features the usual online components such as Party and Guild gameplay, as well as PvP. However, this initial release is yet to include player versus player and raid gameplay, coming later this year with further updates.
While some of the foundations that comprise the bulk of Magia: Charma Saga may be commonplace, few mobile games are audacious enough to deliver a genuinely fun and thrilling action system. That is the main novelty of this game and judging by the shortage of quality side-scrolling action games, it is no mean feat.
Learning Curve: 8/10
It doesn’t take a master’s degree to know your way around Magia: Charma Saga. The menus are intuitive and well-crafted, with every option easily comprehensible and accessible. The action stages are as easy to grasp, although a few players seem to complain about the position of some of the controls.
Graphics / Sound: 9/10
This is where Magia: Charma Saga truly shines. Super Acid… What a talented bunch of artists they must be, to create such an impressive array of 2D artworks. Each character looks stunning in its own special way, from the playable heroes to the enemies and the unbearably cute and fluffy Lux. The silky-smooth animation will lead some players to believe that they were created in full 3D, when in fact this is the kind of 2D animation where each character is made up of dozens of independent 2D parts that are masterfully linked to provide an impressive illusion of depth.
The same can be said about the stunning scenarios where the battles take place. With several graphical layers moving at different speeds, designed to convey a feeling of depth – commonly known as parallax scrolling –, the levels are beautiful, with a remarkable watercolor effect more visible in some of them, such as the forest stage. The lighting effects are astonishing, the fire spells from our mage Caleera are breathtaking as well… it’s difficult to find a better-looking mobile action game right now.
The medieval fantasy soundtrack deserves high marks, although the menu music can get on your nerves – leave the game on for too long and those beautiful sounds will start to feel tiresome. Sound effects are well chosen, fairly lowkey so that they never become bothersome.
Value for Money: 9/10
Magia: Charma Saga is the kind of free game that almost feels like a steal. There are hours of enjoyment to be had without spending a dime, but feel free to support the developers as they certainly deserve it. The cash shop includes all kinds of packages and you can choose between spending real money or browsing some of the stuff that is purchasable through in-game currency. So far, I didn’t stumble upon any kind of paywall, but progress is obviously increasingly difficult, so I won’t rule out the possibility of having to resort to the cash shop later.
Magia: Charma Saga is a charming game that has all the makings of a hit. From its stunning hand-drawn graphics right up to the compelling action stages, there is a lot to admire. Breaking free from the ludicrous boundaries established by mediocre auto-play mobile games, Super Acid has delivered a proper game, one where skill isn’t utterly and completely discarded in favor of cash-grab mechanics. Some of mobile gaming’s worst foundations may still be found in here, but they are accessory and at least you are playing a real game in the meantime. And having a blast – I know that I am!
• Some of the best 2D artwork ever designed
• Challenging action stages where you… gasps… are fully in control
• Various heroes with different approaches to combat
• Plenty of skills and buffs to unlock and use
• Interesting story
• The occasional ominous feeling of a mobile game outside of the action stages
• PvP mode yet to be implemented