MageQuit at PAX South 2018 First Impressions

MageQuit does sound like Rage-Quit, yes, and perhaps that’s what they were going for 😉 The first game coming out of the fresh “Bowlcut Studios” is a wizard-brawling arena game where up to 10 players will use spells and physics to battle for victory. Departing from being just another Smash Bros clone, MageQuit contains many aspects that separates itself from doing just that. The game is essentially a series of attempts to outsmart your opponent with skill-based attacks. Being that you can dodge the spells hurled your way, predicting your opponent’s aim and movement is crucial, so button-mashing is ineffective. Sometimes this means you must rely on guess-work and sometimes this means you pull of a pure skill-shot. And even though your spell aimer is visible to other players, you can secretly apply a curve with your triggers to add an extra element of surprise. With every kill you get in the game, your neckbeard will grow, and your victory is achieved when you have the longest beard after 9 tough rounds (in non-Wizard English, more kills than everyone = you win). MageQuit‘s gameplay was inspired by a Warcraft 3 mod named Warlock. The elemental theme and coffin stage were inspired by the Pro Bending Tournaments from Legend of Korra. The Sports stage was inspired by Rocket League.

MageQuit can be played with 2 teams, 3 teams, or free-for-all. At PAX South, we were only able to participate in a free-for-all match-up, but the team games apparently present some pretty unique challenges, such as pushing an arcane barrier to send the other team off a cliff or scoring a game-winning goal with a massive, flaming puck.

Perhaps one of the most interesting features, in my opinion, was that all Wizards draft for a new ability (mapped to a new button on the controller) after every round. For example, the Wizards all begin with just one spell ability – a regular small attack. After that round ends, but before the next one begins, a draft-style pick for new spell abilities starts and the Wizards who performed the worst in the previous round now get to pick their new spell first. The new spell chosen in the draft is then mapped to a new button on the controller, so by the time players reach about 6-8 rounds, they have a full arsenal where almost every button on the controller performs a unique and specific spell.

Understanding where the dev team comes from and what inspires them is an amazing perspective on the game as well. Here are a few key things to note about Bowlcut Studios:
  • There are only 2 people in it: Brett Pennings and his brother Chad
  • Brett does the game design and development, while Chad does the art
  • They have been working on MageQuit for 2 years, but both have full time jobs, so the game is only worked on when they have spare time to do so
  • The brothers spent all the money the game has made so far to pay for their booth at PAX South
  • They chose the name Bowlcut Studios because they had bowlcuts growing up. Brett told me “Bowlcuts are terrible and nostalgic, just like a lot of our favorite games”
  • Their mission is to create memorable mass local multiplayer experiences that forge or destroy friendships

MageQuit features in a nutshell

  • 28 spells
  • 7 stages
  • Up to 10 players
  • Full controller support
  • Play as 2 teams, 3 teams, or free-for-all
  • Spells can be curved using the triggers

MageQuit PAX South 2018 Goods and Bads

Good – I find MageQuit to be a unique brawler, and not just another Smash Bros clone, which is exactly one of the things that BowlCut Studios *wanted* me to know before I booked an appointment with them for PAX South 2018. There are several games trying to fit into those Smash Bros shoes, and those are some size 20 impossible shoes to truly fill. MageQuit does a service to the multiplayer arena brawler setting by bringing something new to the table with their spell-draft-pick that happens before each new round. This component means that you’ll never have a game like the one you had previously.

MageQuit also supports just about every controller on the market with the exception of the Steam Controller. Even a GameCube controller with an adapter can be used to include the epic ‘Cube controllers in your matches. The game does REQUIRE a controller to play, which is a “good” for me, but it is just something that should definitely be mentioned.

Bad – As much as I hate to say this, I really do not like how slowly the Wizards move. This slow move speed is intentional, and really necessary for the gameplay. Imagine moving at the pace of just “walking” in Smash Bros, but probably slower. I realize if the game contained super fast movement speeds, or even “regular” speed, there’s the possibility of falling off islands and landing into lava, but the developers also noted that it’s pivotal for the dynamic of actually being able to hit one another. I believe they want the action to be tense, to the point where you’re just hoping and praying that the spell your foe just casted will barely miss you. And if they have good aim, it does just *barely* miss you. Others may have no problem dealing with this, but I thrive on brawling in a faster-paced setting and found myself just being a bit frustrated at moving so sluggishly.

The Verdict?

I love any time that a game can do something brand new with an existing genre. MageQuit seems to mostly fit the bill, and I love the story of these two brothers working together to make a game that will have people yelling, laughing, and just having a good multiplayer experience overall. But I personally cannot get over how slow the Wizards move, although I feel I could be more accustomed to it if I just sit down with the game a few more times; I really do think it would help me to get over this integral aspect of the game.

MageQuit is currently in Early Access on Steam for $9.99

Check out the Early Access trailer here –

 

Dr.Kendo

Dr.Kendo

I am Dr.Kendo, YouTube sensation, and my lovely wife is Mrs.Kendo... my dogs are Apple Kendo and Twoey Kendo. My interests are Blue Shells, long walks on Besaid Island, and Nintendo-shaped Candle-lit dinners.