Magical Diary PC Review
Just this weekend I found myself on Steam with money in my pocket and a skip in my step. As I trolloped and danced around looking for deals, a certain game caught my attention. This game, titled Magical Diary, promised me so many things. I could go to a magical high school where demons and werewolves all learned how to be magical beings. There I could focus on learning various arts that would make me a powerful sorcerer one day. I would also be given the opportunity to fall in love and find true romance in this magical world.
What the game neglected to mention was that while character customization existed, the capacity to maintain a Y chromosome was a luxury I would not be afforded. In other words, I was going to be experiencing this magical world as an angst laden 15 year old girl. What more, I was soon going to learn that the promise of finding true love was not optional.
Before I continue, I’d like to mention that I’ve never necessarily made a point of playing female characters in video games. I’ve never designed one for giggles, and I most certainly pick Captain Falcon over Samus any chance I’m given. It’s not necessarily that I’m sexist, but more that I find men who enjoy playing female characters somewhat unsettling. Unfortunately, I had just burned $10 in this game, and if there is anything I hate more than playing a female character, it’s wasting money.
The game installed, I set off on my magical journey as “Boobs McGee” with bright eyes that had yet to be tainted by the horrors of the real world. Certainly I was about to have the best high school experience ever. What more, unlike my adolescent self, this girl wasn’t a socially awkward outcast who enjoyed Daft Punk entirely too much. No, she was cute and popular. Certainly there was nothing that could astray. How horribly wrong I was.
The game starts off a bit uninspiring. The tutorial starts with the main character bumping into this game’s version of professor Snape. From there, it follows a pretty predictable set-up for a tutorial. Characters are introduced, and the game layout is placed before you. Unfortunately, this game feels like it’s compromised of 3 AM fanfics and blatant plagiarism. It’s one issue when your game draws inspiration from Harry Potter (which drew inspiration from X-men); It’s something else entirely when I can literally start copy/pasting characters from the game and applying them to Harry Potter. If the whole mystical teenager with a neglectful family wasn’t bad enough, half the professors from the game are so very much like Hogwarts counterparts that it’s hard not to think some mild plagiarism occurred.
In Magical Diary’s defense, while it has a very similar setup to that of Harry Potter, the way it carries itself gives me hope for creative sparks in indie developers. The tiers of magic that are offered differ from the stereotypical “good spells, bad spells, and potions” into a realm that shows a true non-aligned magical world. I could spend an entire playthrough learning red magic (control over physical things) or pop into a blue/black world where I can alter everything around me and lay down some mean curses. The combinations were literally limited to my own imagination with each tier having its own way of handling challenges put in front of me. Not that I find point-n-click adventures all that challenging.
This brings me to the controls. This is a point-n-click/visual novel style game. A paraplegic with a strong jaw can play this game. I point at an option, click, then spam the left mouse button until I’m given another chance to select the option. The only slightly unique feature is that the occasional dungeon offers a bit of Doom style exploration, without the cool enemies. It also seems to lack the soundtrack found in a lot of modern indie titles.
Maybe I’m just a cynic, but aside from some nifty audio tracks, I find most indie games lacking in content. Perhaps it’s because they don’t have big budgets to make huge AAA titles. Either way, this game is the opposite. Plenty of content, but less variables in sound than the original Donkey Kong. It will become quickly apparent to many that paying $5 a month for a LoveLine subscription will become necessary to enjoy this game. Unfortunately, not even Dr. Drew’s soothing voice could get me through the game’s largest fault.
While I understand the irony in despising a game meant for a female audience, I really cannot love this game simply because of the female inclination. I suppose I shouldn’t get on its back when I play games like Gears Of War and Resident Evil (used as examples of manly men doing manly things), but I just can’t say I connect with this game in the slightest. Sure, I also can’t connect with whichever Barbie or Bratz game they just released, but with this game I feel like it could have been different. Had a little bit more love (or the promise of an expansion pack) been put into this game, I may not dislike it so much. Maybe it could be that there was a demon boy stalking me the entire time, but I just felt the game wasn’t meant for guys like me. Even so, I still recommend you buy it for your 14 year old sister. It would make a better birthday present than Fifty Shades of Grey.