Review : The Magic Circle

If you knew me, you’d know that the two things I love in life are failed Kickstarters and video games. I never thought those two great loves would ever combine.

Well, Actually, Video games and failed Kickstarters overlap quite a bit, but I never thought they’d overlap in a good way.

The Magic Circle

The Magic Circle is a video game about playing an unfinished video game. Yeah, it’s a little meta. The story is that game designer Ishmael Gilder, who insists on being called “Star Father” is over a decade into development into the game that was to be his masterpiece. So he turns to crowdfunding to get the “finishing” funds for the game, and of course runs out of money before he’s finished.

He’s forced to release the unfinished game.

The game itself is a first-person puzzle game. The puzzle mechanic is editing the attributes of the creatures in the world to let you complete the broken, unfinished game. While the puzzle solving is perfectly satisfying, the real joy of the game comes from exploring all the different half-finished aspects of the world, and learning the story. The story of the completely dysfunctional game development team that couldn’t make a game to save itself from bankruptcy.


Throughout the journey you learn that earlier iterations of the game were radically different than the current one, and a large part of the game’s puzzle involves combining elements from the old versions and the new versions in ways that make the world functional. This is one area where the game really shines technically. Through some techno trickery, they’ve made the “older” parts of the game render as though they were in a game from the mid-90s, but still mesh seamlessly with more modern assets that look like they’re from a modern “indie” game.


I heartily recommend this game. I know it doesn’t sound fun to play an unfinished game, but don’t worry, this is a finished, well polished game about playing an unfinished game. The puzzle aspects are not too difficult, and there are multiple solutions to every problem. But what makes this game really shine is the story about the tired dev team that has come to hate their boss, and how that story is told through the broken game.

So get this game today on Steam, but first check out their fake Kickstarter page. (Oldest updates start at the bottom, not the top.)