Magic Scroll Tactics Review

Magic Scroll Tactics is a side scrolling strategy RPG that features a unique system of bonuses and penalties based on height. It tells the story of a Summoner, Nash, who must prevent dark forces from returning to the world with the help of a team of units of your own making.  The store page promises “simple yet deep” gameplay–and it delivers.
My first impressions of Magic Scroll Tactics were very positive. I’m a sucker for pixel art and the game is presented in vivid, pixelated detail. During narrative bits, the characters are represented by 2D portraits that change expression according to what’s being said, which is a nice touch. Magic Scroll Tactics’ writing is charming and light-hearted, sometimes poking fun at RPG tropes, and the music is suitable, but nothing to write home about.

The bulk of the game is spent in combat, which is broken into two types: free battles and story battles. Story battles can only be played through once and are preceded and followed by a cutscene that furthers the story. Free battles can be played as many times as you wish, rewarding you with gold and items dropped by slain enemies. On the battlefield, you take control of Nash and her summoned units and turns–both allied and enemy–are dictated by agility. During your turn, you’re able to move and use skills/items. How far you can go is dictated by the units movement attribute and that range is represented as tiles on a grid. The side scrolling aspect of the game comes into play here, as you can only move left or right, up or down and are also limited by enemy presence. Your units are always summoned right behind Nash and you have no control over wherever that may be in relation to the enemy team. Because you can’t (normally) move past the enemy, positioning becomes especially important. Magic Scroll Tactics offers an increase in damage and hit rate if you can manage to get the higher ground, which is neat, but can also bite you in the ass because the enemy often starts out that way.

Battles are quick, but fairly challenging, which makes Magic Scroll Tactics a good title for the Switch. You can pick it up, play through a few story levels, and feel like you’ve made real progress without having to invest too much time. The real-time sink comes from learning skills, which requires skill points gained from levelling up and usage of the unit. When an enemy is slain, every unit on the field is awarded with experience and the one to land the kill shot gets the lion’s share. If the units have a skill they’re learning, they also gain skill experience. Depending on the tier of skill, it could take a few battles for the unit to learn the skill and only then will it appear under their list of abilities. Skills require MP to use, which starts at 0 at the beginning of battle, but regenerates naturally each turn.
There isn’t much to do outside of battle beyond manage your party. You can create units whenever you wish, which opened up strategic options as far as party composition, but new units start at level one so I found myself simply using the starter team, which was balanced enough to take me through the playthrough. This feels like a missed opportunity, as expansion of the handful of classes could have led to greater depth of gameplay. Being able to learn abilities from different classes on a single unit makes for interesting and powerful hybrids, but doing so takes a great deal of time due to the way skill acquisition works.

Y​ou can also buy equipment from an NPC while on the world map. Equipment is locked to race, which unfortunately makes some class/race combos a moot point. The harpy race, for example, makes sort of a poor mage because it can’t weild a staff, which increases spell power, and by that merit it also makes a half-baked archer because it doesn’t learn any of the hit increasing skills that make their arrows so potent. Again, this seems like a missed opportunity, but the party you’re given at the start is more than competent. You can’t name your units or customize them either, so to me, summoning more wasn’t exactly priority.
A competent and accessible strategy RPG. Though somewhat simplistic compared to other titles in the genre, Magic Scroll Tactics‘ charming writing and streamlined gameplay makes it welcoming to newbies and veterans alike. Should the developers add more classes, customization, and a more complex skill system, then this has the potential to become an instant classic.

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to editor@bonusstage.co.uk.

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Magic Scroll Tactics Review
  • Gameplay - 6/10
    6/10
  • Graphics - 6/10
    6/10
  • Sound - 6/10
    6/10
  • Replay Value - 6/10
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User Review
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Comments Rating 0/10 (0 reviews)
Overall
6/10

Summary

A competent and accessible strategy RPG. Though somewhat simplistic compared to other titles in the genre, Magic Scroll Tactics‘ charming writing and streamlined gameplay makes it welcoming to newbies and veterans alike.

Pros

  • Easy to pick up.
  • Good writing, charming cast.
  • Class and skill system allows for unit customization.

Cons

  • Arguably too simplistic.
  • Unit customization leaves something to be desired.
  • Side scrolling aspect needlessly limits unit mobility in some instances.