Abraca: Imagic Games

Platform(s): PC
Genre: Action
Publisher: Ankama
Developer: Ankama
Release Date: March 31, 2016

About Brian Dumlao

After spending several years doing QA for games, I took the next logical step: critiquing them. Even though the Xbox One is my preferred weapon of choice, I'll play and review just about any game from any genre on any system.


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PC Review - 'Abraca: Imagic Games'

by Brian Dumlao on May 19, 2016 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

Fairy tale characters live in the country of Imagic among its bad guys and damsels in distress. Becoming Prince Charming is a treacherous path, and the gloves must come off! Two, three or four players take on their roles as princes who must survive a series of challenges.

In recent years, there has been a concentrated effort to have more local multiplayer experiences on the PC, whether it's because of a growing desire to bring the PC platform to the living room or a means of making the system more attractive to console players. A wealth of local multiplayer games have either launched alongside their console counterparts or started on the PC platform. Abraca: Imagic Games is the latest in a line of local multiplayer titles for the PC, and it's surprisingly good once you wrap your head around the concept.

While the conceit of having your chosen champion go on a quest to rescue a captured princess is one of the most used plot devices in gaming, the way it plays out in Abraca is certainly interesting. The main mode, entitled Run, has you and three other players choosing from up to five different teams comprised of combinations from children's fairy tales. Your choices include the likes of Hansel & Gretel, the Ice Queen and the Yeti, and Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf. Once those teams are chosen and one of five stages is selected, the princesses are locked up in a treasure box while the heroes must traverse the rooms of the selected stage to rescue them.

As the heroes, you're actually taking turns going through the stages. You have a finite number of hits you can take before you respawn, but you have infinite lives so you aren't completely shut out if you die. You have a time limit, though, and letting time expire halts your run since you're transformed into a frog while waiting for your next turn. The other three players are wandering souls that possess specific minions whose job it is to halt the hero's progress by making floors fall, chasing them down with a sword, or raining down fire on them. The concept is similar to what's seen in Crawl, complete with the ability for all three opponents to take over parts of the boss at the end of the level.

Once everyone has their turn at the adventure portion, the game switches over to the princesses locked in the box, and the gameplay goes from a platformer to a brawler in the same vein as Super Smash Bros. The gameplay mechanics aren't as deep as Nintendo's mascot brawler, but you can execute a few simple one-button combos and projectile attacks in the standard fight mode. Aside from timed and stock fights, you have a few other variations, such as collecting gold and depositing it into a chest, gathering gingerbread men, and holding the crown the longest. Winning the fight actually affects the main race mode, since that determines how much health each of the competitors has for the next run.

It sounds like a strange mix on paper, but the result is quite entertaining. Both parts may not exactly be great on their own, but the combination of both game types makes for an interesting experience. The short timers on each round ensure that games are quick, so there isn't much opportunity for things to get stale. The characters don't differ much aside from their aesthetics, so at least the levels you unlock differ greatly in terms of bosses and challenges.

The other two modes on Abraca work fine but aren't as exciting as the main one. Arena takes the brawling aspect and makes it a stand-alone experience. It doesn't make for a deep fighting game, but it works fine for those looking for a simpler fighting experience. Challenge is the only mode made for the solo player, and it is here where you get the minigame experience. You're mostly asked to get rid of enemies or hit targets in a set time to earn trophies, so things don't vary that much. They're fine on their own, but they really just prepare you for the main mode.

There are a few things done here that might disappoint some players. Both the character and level variety are rather light. Maxing out at five each, it doesn't give players much variety in either category, and it also means that it doesn't take very long before you unlock everything. The main complaint people will have, however, is the lack of online play. Local play certainly ensures that things like latency and disconnections are almost nonexistent, but having the ability to play this kind of game online would at least open up things to those who might not have friends over all the time. It isn't a huge loss, but it is something that players seem to be clamoring for in the message boards.

As far as presentation goes, this is both lighthearted and a little daring. The colors used in the environment are bright, and the environments fit in as if they were originally part of a cartoon. The character designs look like they came from a cartoon, so they're exaggerated enough to feel distinct. The brawn of Hansel and Gretel, for example, seems to contrast nicely with the piercings of Red and the Big Bad Wolf. The animations are fluid and expressive, which benefits the fighting portion greatly. Particles like fire and dust add a nice touch to the overall look. On the sound side, the music and effects fit nicely, but don't expect any voices to punctuate any parts of the game.

Abraca: Imagic Games is a good party game for those who don't want another minigame collection. The cooperative and competitive aspects seem oddly put together at first, but the experience ends up being fun after just one round with the main concept. The presentation fits in rather well with the theme, and although the other modes are not as fresh as the main one, they're fun in their own right once you accept the limitations. While it would've been nice to see the multiplayer branch out into online modes, Abraca is a good choice for those who constantly have friends over.

Score: 8.0/10

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