There’s no shortage of games pushing the ‘freemium’ model on your iPhone, and given their popularity it’s safe to say that free is a good fit for casual gamers. Magic Life from Glu Mobile is actually quite similar to other strategy-lite takes on town and world building, while adding familiar role-playing game elements.
Magic Life puts players in the leather boots of a young magic apprentice on a fantasy world of islands, monsters, and mischievous spells. As a new apprentice, you are constantly tasked with all manner of quests. These include incredibly mundane things like gathering fruit and opening chests, banishing cyclops and trolls, and transforming other apprentices into animals (and back again). It’s pretty clear from the outset that the older magicians don’t like to exert themselves, making the quests feel more like chores.
Now get to work, freeloader!
Most of the quests, especially as the game progresses, involve the use of potions. Magic Life spends a lot of time forcing players to first gather ingredients, either by finding or buying them, then using these ingredients to create bubbling magical liquids.
Potions take a lot of time to make, often hours, so impatient players could find Magic Life to be a costly endeavor. As usual, everything in the game takes a certain amount of time if you want the game to continue to be free.
To speed things along, you can opt to use gems, which make things happen instantly. You’ll start with a few, but more gems can only be bought with real cash. The upside to Magic Life is that you really don’t have to spend money to play it– you just need patience.
Gold and magical energy called mana are the other two resources to manage. Mana recharges naturally, and is oddly used almost every time you do anything. It makes sense that casting spells uses mana, but the logic behind using it to pick fruit or open chests is questionable at best.
That’s one ugly mountain.
Customizing your game is a big part of the appeal of this sort of game, and Magic Life doesn’t miss a beat there. As you earn more experience, wealth, and power, you can customize your character’s look with new outfits and accessories, and even whole new body types. You’ll also get a house to accessorize, and all your mighty achievements can be linked to your Facebook account. Connected friends can even come to your island, hang out, and be turned into pigs and bunnies.
Where Magic Life largely trips up is simply the lack of variety. Even when dealing with monsters, there’s no combat or danger, and the game lazily throws the same missions at you repeatedly.
If you only intend to play in short bursts every day, this might not be a big problem, but Magic Life doesn’t offer anything substantial we haven’t seen before. It may be free, but we can’t say that Magic Life will offer you the most fun for your time.