MageQuit Xbox One review: A magical brawling game perfect for couch combat

Bowlcut Studios delivers a fantastic party title perfect for groups big or small.

MageQuit is the debut title from Bowlcut Studios. It's a top-down multiplayer brawler akin to games like Knight Squad, where players are divided into teams or duke it out in a free-for-all. Players draft spells between rounds, growing their magical arsenal in a unique way every match. Some spells benefit a more aggressive playstyle, dealing damage quickly, while others are of a protective, healing nature.

The game uses a simple art style that looks clean and works well for the tone of the gameplay. Online and couch co-op are both supported, so up to ten players can fight online or up to eight locally on a single Xbox One. With the promise of further support and coming in at just $15, this is a great party game to add to your collection.

MageQuit is all about spell drafting

The setup is simple. At the beginning of each round, players will draft spells. You start by drafting your basic attacks and as the game goes on, more complex abilities are gained. These range from classic fireballs and wind blasts to summoning vines and life-stealing leeches. There are multiple elements and several spells per element, so you can mix and match or stay true to one school of magic. The drafting system works well since the lowest performing player gets first pick, the second-lowest gets the second pick and so on.

You grow a longer beard as you win rounds. That's fantastic.

The variety in the spells really is well done. Even after playing multiple games, I was constantly trying new abilities, from summoning trees to grab and fling my foes, to tsunami waves that can sweep away every opponent on the map. There are 42 spells at the moment and Bowlcut Studios stated that more will be added at a later date.

Each game lasts for nine rounds by default, with the player (or team) that has the most kills at the end winning. As you win rounds, your mage's beard will grow out longer and longer. It's a simple feature but it's one that I absolutely love. By the end of the game, you'll see one or more mages running around with majestic, flowing beards even longer than they are tall.

MageQuit has deceptively complex combat

The combat system is simple and easy to understand. There's a deceptive layer of strategy to the combat though, as different spells can be curved left or right. This will allow a cunning mage to arc a fireball around a corner, or summon a stone wall to block a sudden attack on the side. You can even chain your spells together alongside those of your teammates or opponents to create some really unexpected effects, like knocking a golem back into a stone trap and into the path of another mage. Aiming each spell can be a bit tricky, as you need to be extremely precise, but I found that after a few games you get the hang of it.

I wish the tutorial was a little more fleshed out, as it's fairly basic stuff. You're taught to use a basic attack, arc your attack left and right, then use your movement spell. That's it. The loading screen tips between each round actually provide more context for your abilities. On a positive related note, it loads extremely quickly, with no round taking more than three or four seconds to be ready.

MageQuit features clean, basic visuals

The art style is very minimalist in MageQuit, which works well given the atmosphere the game is going for. It's clean and simple but still looks good, especially with spells flying everywhere. I never noticed any framerate drops either, no matter how crazy things got on screen.

There's a strong use of color, helping each of the handful of maps to feel distinct. You will also find also environmental hazards like a sea monster and an exploding volcano, which lend each of the maps further unique personality. The soundtrack, while nothing spectacular, is dynamic and fits well.

Summing up the spellcasting in MageQuit

All in all, this is a great party game. The combat feels good, even if it takes a few games to learn everything. The wide variety of spells and the ability to play online or with a local group around your couch is awesome.

At just $15, I can heartily recommend this to anyone looking for a new game to play with friends and family. MageQuit is currently available on Xbox One and Steam.

We reviewed MageQuit on an Xbox One X, with a copy provided by the publisher.

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Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on Xbox and PC gaming on Windows Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert.