You’re a Wizard, Player
Developed by Eggtart and published by A Thinking Ape, Witch Arcana – Magic School takes players to the once prestigious Wakehollow Academy. An ancient college for the study of magic, the school’s fallen on hard times in recent years. Buildings are crumbling, rats infest the dorms, and the school is under periodic attack by interdimensional creatures called Tenebrals. Wakehollow’s newest student, Gwendoline Harlowe, must unlock her magical powers if she hopes to restore this ancient institution.
Gwendoline is the story’s protagonist, though you don’t play her exactly. Instead, Witch Arcana’s story takes the form of Quests starring her and the game’s other unlockable heroes. The main quest chain follows Gwendoline’s adventures in Wakehollow, while character-specific Quests offer more personal stories following each named character.
Witch Arcana’s writing quality is pretty good, and all the characters are pretty enjoyable. However, advancing these stories is a slow process. For example, The main quest progresses every time players complete the Daily Tenebral Hunt Mission on the Overworld. However, since it’s a daily mission, players can only go to one stage per day. In addition, the Prologue alone has 27 stages, so it could be nearly a month before players can start the story properly.
Speaking of the Overworld, there needs to be a word for “strategy” games like Witch Arcana. Players build up Wakehollow, which serves as their central base. They build and upgrade structures to gather resources and train troops, which take the form of summoned creatures in this game. Players then send their armies to challenge enemies on a shared overworld. Players can also attack each other for resources.
The gameplay on the Overworld is simple. Click on an enemy or resource, choose one or two heroes, assign the number of creatures, then press the attack button. Your army slowly marches there, attacks automatically, then come home. Really, calling Witch Arcana a “strategy” game almost feels like it’s abusing some kind of loophole. This is a common style of mobile “strategy” titles, but that’s hardly a point in Witch Arcana’s favor. While I’m sure some people like this, I found it dull and repetitive.
Heroes of Magic
Interestingly, one thing that Witch Arcana isn’t is a gacha game, which I expected it to be. Instead, players unlock new heroes with Shards, which they can buy in the store or get from opening daily Chests. The latter is rare, though, and the store doesn’t always have the Shard you need. That means unlocking new Heroes or Ranking Up existing ones can take a while.
This is another barrier to Quest progression since advancing the character’s stories sometimes requires the player to rank them up first. I don’t mind going to the Overworld to farm resources or enemies. I would have preferred something more engaging than clicking and waiting, but at least it’s something to do. However, there’s not much you can actively do to Rank Up a specific character in Witch Arcana.
As for things I liked about Witch Arcana – Magic School, the character designs are really fantastic. This is partly due to the art style, which eschews the typical 3d models or anime-style portraits for distinct line-art drawings. On top of that, each character’s design is unique, memorable and captures the character’s personality. I also liked how the designs incorporate things unique to each character’s story. For example, do you want to know why Agon’s arms are bandaged? Complete his quests to find out.
But do I like Witch Arcana as a whole? I’m honestly not sure. I like the characters, and I’m invested in their stories. While I have criticisms of Witch Arcana’s style of gameplay, this is one of the better versions. Ultimately, it could have done more to set it apart from similar pseudo-strategy games, but it still does a lot. Not everyone will love Witch Arcana – Magic School, but the right players might.
Is It Hardcore?
Witch Arcana – Magic School doesn’t offer a very deep strategy experience, but it is good for what it is and the story and presentation go a long way.