Magic Barrage – Bitferno Steam Review

Magic Barrage – Bitferno is an aptly named, massive multiplayer online, top down, bullet hell shoot’em up. If you’ve played Realm of the Mad God, you’ve played this. In fact, I dare say someone stole the code for this Flash game (there are ways), switched out the graphics and used it to make this. The graphics are old school 16 bit good and the music is a complete mishmash from one area to the next. In fact the game’s art is a complete mishmash. Pixelated 16 bit sprites for the majority of the game, but good looking rendered art for the class select screen and still hand drawn art for the quest givers. Its as if different artists worked on the game using different art styles.

You start the game by first selecting from one of eight classes in one of three unlocked save slots. Your choices are, the Warrior, the Mage, the Archer, the Priest, the Ninja, the Paladin, the Warlock and finally, the Assassin. They all play the same Use the keys to move. Point your mouse on an enemy and click to shoot at it. To my dismay, there is no controller support, which I think lends well to the bullet hell shooter genre, but not the MMO aspect of it. The only difference is their special abilities. The problem is that I found myself shooting 100% of the time without using any other abilities. It was easy to whittle down hordes of enemies even by myself.

Since this is free to play, there are of course microtransactions. Not as awful as Realm of the Mad God, where even other players are trying to con you into buying them. They’re still prominent here and there, especially when you die. Death takes XP from you when you die, unless you spend diamonds to keep it. At level 1 everything an enemy dropped was for level 10. At level 10 everything dropped was for level 20. You get the picture. That’s okay though, because you can buy experience with microtransactions.

The settings here are lacking and having the screen stuck at a specific size doesn’t help. There is no resolution support or even full screen. Why does that matter? The window might be too wide for some screen resolutions. The real problem that I have with the game is the interface is busy and cluttered. There’s too much going on and I can’t close all the popups lying around. Like the quest menu is always front and center. Its just busy and flashy.

The game itself is flashy, there’s always a vomit of colors on the map. I like a vibrant and dynamic color pallet, but this is every color at once, all the time. The land is bright green, the water bright blue, enemies are red, shooting purple and yellow projectiles. That sort of thing. All enemies shoot projectiles, because this wouldn’t be a bullet hell shooter if they didn’t.

There is no sort of tutorial, except a billboard that tells you how to move and a popup that tells you how to shoot. When you begin, the game just dumps you into combat with no safe zone or town. To even get to the town, you need to look up the controls and fast travel to it with the tough of a key. Two players said they had looked for an hour and were asking others how to get to a town or where it was. Then I looked up key bindings and there it was.

On the battlegrounds, enemies will spawn right on top of you. In fact one server that was baron except for myself, I had cleared out an entire screen of enemies, only to have them poof back into the screen, filling it once again. It felt like the server was really meant to be full of players and not just me.

Magical Barrage does a good job of throwing different enemies at you in all shapes, sizes and strengths. They all shoot projectiles at you. Different projectiles at different speeds. Some shoot in full circles, other shoot at you. Still bosses have many firing patterns Sometimes they’ll launch a ball that will explode into a swirl of gunfire. The next shot might be a quarter circle of arrows. I never felt in any danger of dying though. You have hit points. So taking damage is common.

With this being an online game, I found myself getting kicked off the server for staying idle too long. Even though there’s an achievement for being idle. The game then took me back to the website, forcing me to restart the game. That’s not a chore or anything, but then enough times I had to reload the game, click on my character to load them, only to have it go to a grey screen with nothing on it. I’d say that my character failed to load, but there was no error. So I just had to reload the game again and again. There was also a point of the game where the sound randomly cut out. I’m not saying the sound is good. Any sort of hit results in a sound similar to someone screaming into a microphone. Even non human enemies still sound very human.

I can’t recommend this game. It doesn’t feel like a clone of Mad Realm God, it feels like the code was stolen from it. There are ways to steal code from Flash games. Maybe it was from the developer that made Realm of the Mad God and this is a follow up. This all seems shady. I also like how they list “Free to Play” as the genre. Its like saying Under $20 is a music genre.

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