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Life is Magic

For: iPhone   Also on: Android, iPad

Rocking the suburbs

Product: Life is Magic | Publisher: Red Robot Labs | Format: iPhone | Genre: Location- based | Players: 1 | Version: US | App version: 1.0
Life is Magic iPhone, thumbnail 1
From the very first time we picked up a book, we were told that magic was waiting to be discovered in the world around us.

While there's no arguing against the near-magical level of technology in our smartphones and tablets, the type of magic that we were really looking for - the kind with orcs, elves, and fireballs - remains stubbornly elusive.

Until now. Thanks to Life is Magic you now have a way to track down this sort of magical adventure - and it's much closer than you might expect.

Magic, magic everywhere

Life is Magic is an engrossing location-based RPG which takes place in a mystical world that maps neatly onto our own. Geographic regions are divided into fantasy kingdoms, while major cities retain their mundane names.

New York City remains New York City, for example, but it's located in the kingdom of Osteroth (that's north of Benimy, mind).

As you start your quest you can opt to play as a Monk, Mage, or Machinist. Each class is similar to the others in terms of attacks and magic prowess, but the three are aligned with different elements, which helps them against certain enemy types.

Once you've selected a class you're encouraged to explore the world around you. Literally. Zooming in on the overworld map will reveal your character's banner, which hovers over the fantasy depiction of your real-world location.

If you're in a major city, you'll be spoiled for treasure chests and dungeons to discover, but those in more rural locations will be treated to a lot of trees and empty space before they locate the odd treasure chest or dungeon.

Mystical maps

Once you find a dungeon, Life is Magic really hits its stride. Each dungeon is separated into a number of floors, with each floor consisting of a single battle. Every time you win a battle you receive loot and the option to delve to deeper levels or exit with your loot.

IAPs Explained
Life is Magic splits IAPs between two familiar types: Gold and Crystals.

Gold is used to purchase equipment (armour/weapons) in-game and is plentiful enough to handle most low-to-mid level purchases. Higher level items may require you to spend on some gold. Prices range between £1.49 / $1.99 for 20,000 and £69.99 / $99 for 1.3 million.

Crystals have a broader range of uses. You need crystals to purchase MP potions (which allow you to progress through dungeons) and buy new spells at the shop. Additionally, you can trade crystals for keys to open treasure chests with and teleport stones to zip about the map.

They're certainly the high-value currency of the game, and the prices reflect it. 50 crystals will cost you £2.99 / $4.99 while £69.99 / $99 will only land you 1,500 crystals.
This creates a challenging management aspect to the game, as you have to be sure you have enough hit points (or party members) to overcome the challenge on the next floor - defeat in combat means expulsion from the dungeon and the loss of all the loot you've acquired.

Small suburbs will offer a handful of low-level dungeons that are perfect for solo grinding and XP advancement, while larger cities host imposing tower dungeons that require a couple of party members to battle through.

Whether solo or as part of a team, the fights themselves are simple turn-based affairs that are accessible, fun, and fast-paced. In short, they're everything that a random encounter should be in a casual-friendly RPG.

Where does this leave us?

Less fast-paced, however, is the game's system for replenishing your magic points, which controls how many dungeon floors you can unlock or advance to.

In a game where you compete against other players for resources, it makes sense to limit playing time or activities to an extent in the interests of fairness, but it still seems like an unwelcome impediment to enjoying the game.

Life is Magic is a great concept that stumbles a bit in the realm of in-app purchases. If you're willing to be patient, or spend a bit of currency, however, it will reward you with a fun and rich experience that blurs the lines of fantasy and reality.
Life is Magic
Reviewer photo
Matthew Diener | 17 January 2013
Solid RPG fun delivered in an interesting package, Life is Magic will help you see the world a bit differently
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