Vir­tual re­al­i­ties

The un­fin­ished world of The Magic Cir­cle

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Break­ing the ma­chine with meta puzzle sand­box The Magic Cir­cle

The Magic Cir­cle is a game set in­side a game named ‘The Magic Cir­cle’. For 20 years, the fic­tional Magic Cir­cle game in­side the game – it­self a re­make of a fic­tional ’80s text ad­ven­ture named ‘The Magic Cir­cle’ – has been trapped in de­vel­op­ment hell, un­til the game’s char­ac­ters be­come self-aware.

In the first game from Jordan Thomas’s Ques­tion Games, formed with Ir­ra­tional’s Stephen Alexan­der and Arkane’s Kane Shin, a black-and-white fan­tasy world is in a state of ut­ter col­lapse. The world’s denizens re­gard their cre­ators as ham-fisted gods, and arte­facts from other games on the stu­dio’s server are bleed­ing into the world. Into the sys­tem comes the player, drain­ing power from colourful fis­sures and us­ing it to re­pro­gram the game.

The Magic Cir­cle is also the power you use to re­shape the world, draw­ing onto the screen like ink on a white­board and en­cir­cling any ob­ject you want to ex­am­ine. En­e­mies’ AI pa­ram­e­ters and abil­i­ties can be mod­i­fied and the world be­comes a puzzle that is solved by ex­ploit­ing the code to make crea­tures friendly, fire­proof, air­borne and more. The Magic Cir­cle is a mas­sively meta joke, but it’s also a puzzle sand­box play­ers will solve by fur­ther break­ing an al­ready bro­ken world. We’ll take a closer look soon.

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