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App description: The groundbreaking roleplaying game Mage: The Ascension manifests in our turbulent present with Refuge, an interactive fiction written by critically-acclaimed author Karin Tidbeck.

Set in modern-day Sweden, Mage: Refuge lets you experience today's social and political upheavals while awakening to the power of True Magick - the ability to shape reality itself through your force of belief. Many will try to recruit you into a secret war where human consensus itself is the battlefield. Your actions and choices will have profound consequences on the world and people around you... assuming madness and Paradox doesn't claim you first.

Safety or sacrifice - the choice is yours.

Don't forget to check out Vampire: We Eat Blood, also by White Wolf and written by award-winning author Zak Sabbath and Sara Horrocks.

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02-16-2017, 08:08 PM
#2
Joined: Nov 2014
Posts: 450
Well this looks cool! Anyone willing to take the plunge and offer imps? I would, I just don't have $5 to throw at what looks like a text-only game unless it is really worth it. :P

The game looks really, really interesting though. Very nice graphic design in the UI from what I can see in the screenshots.

02-16-2017, 09:45 PM
#3
Saw this earlier today (way earlier) and was wondering when threads would pop up here.

These look phenomenal (these referring to both this game and its sibling Vampire TM game that launched simultaneously), but I'm hesitant because Asmosee hasn't really done a good job marketing these titles in any way shape or form IMHO.

I think this one is like Lifeline or Robot where you're playing the game through a virtual phone interface and the other one is a more traditional text adventure ala Heavy Metal Thunder or other titles by Tinman/Inkle/Cubus.

$4.99 is a bit steep to go in so blind with Warlock of Firetop Mountain dropping next week...
02-17-2017, 02:01 PM
#4
I am gonna take the plunge as soon as I get home.
02-18-2017, 10:06 PM
#5
This is getting better appstore reviews than its vampire sibling and I'm more into an interactive novel game than another texting based game, so I took the plunge and will be providing impressions either later tonight or sometime tomorrow.

So far the whole presentation, music, sound, etc is really slick. I'm definitely feeling the urge to continue on from the first several pages.
02-19-2017, 08:26 PM
#6
This game has incredible writing, and I say that as a professional.
02-22-2017, 12:49 PM
#7
Finished my first play-through and I'm here to give impressions, as promised. Although I doubt anyone's going to be pulling themselves away from Warlock OFTM or Dungeon Rushers. But a promise is a promise!

Like I said in the previous post: fantastic writing. Karin Tidbeck's writing is vivid and lush. Her characters are for the most part distinctive (if you laid out their actions and statements in any given scene without giving their name I could probably identify them, which is what you want to accomplish when writing characters). There are some typos that they need to address in an update, but it's nothing that detracts from the experience.

That said, I have two major problems with Mage tAR. My first is the length. It's short. I wrapped up my first play-through across three or four sessions had over the course of three days. I'm not sure if the problem is word count or the fact that the game isn't very punishing - I died one time, and once I understood that death and the nature of what caused it, avoiding the same danger from that point on was simple. Fighting Fantasy: Blood of the Zombie felt like a longer experience, but thinking back that's probably because the game is punishingly difficult and it wasn't uncommon to reach a point where you just wanted to start over because of how screwed your run wound up.

I'm just starting my second play-through now, so I'll see how much different there is in terms of new territory and scenes as I align myself with another faction. If I don't find some significant new material, I'm going to call this more of a gameshortstory than a gamebook.

My other major problem is a lack of clarity with what little game mechanics there are here. There's a button in the upper right-hand corner of the screen that takes you to a screen with a wheel with three points on it. One for time, mind, and perception. When you select one, the symbol appears larger in the middle of the wheel and there's a phrase particular to it that appears in the bottom of the wheel. It's is unclear what this does.

Does making a selection at any point in a chapter change my choices? Are these just measurements of progress or reaching milestones? The phrase for each symbol did appear to be different at the end of my first playthrough than they are during this second playthrough, which is when I first started investigating. I did notice them during the first playthrough, but just assumed a tutorial was coming to introduce them past which they would feature more prominently in the "gameplay," and then the next thing I know there's an epilogue and credits rolling.

I feel like this could be one of those rare purchases that I regret, right up there with The Westport Independent and Hex Mechs. This second playthrough is going to be key to answering that, and even then I feel like maybe $4.99 was a bit steep for something that feels like more of a prelude to the possibility of a greater whole, rather than what I was hoping for: its own great big sprawling, fully fleshed out experience. The resolution to the major conflict is literally delivered via some passive scrolling post-script describing the consequences of your choices for the broader world, rather than unraveling it in an interesting way like through more story and narrative.

Not to crap on this completely, I'll reiterate that the app itself is very nice. The sound, music, and effects are very cyberpunk and well done. The first time the interface transferred me from one place to another, I was surprised and found myself anticipating the same thing happening again in the future. It's hard to explain, and I don't want to spoil it.

That's pretty much it. I'll back back to give the verdict on my second run later in the week, for those interested.

Last edited by IOSgamer1980; 02-22-2017 at 12:55 PM.
02-22-2017, 10:27 PM
#8
Great review
02-23-2017, 02:22 AM
#9
Joined: Apr 2015
Posts: 251
Thanks thats the post I'd been waiting for!
02-24-2017, 02:32 PM
#10
Welp, I'm not seeing enough variation in my second play through. I figured there'd maybe be some different options available to me based on my first choices. I dunno - there's a choice at the beginning of the game on how to handle running a kitchen at the refugee aid center that lets you choose to use one of your three main "powers" to get the job done (you can either be a great leader and get a group together to get it done, be superman efficient and get it done through sheer smart work on your own part, or just let your mind's untapped potential automatically guide you).

I thought that this MIGHT be a pivotal point where you choose which of your abilities is most dominant. The first time I choose to let my mind automatically guide me, while the second play through I opted for leadership abilities. I'm just not seeing a difference. I've fidgeted with the wheel more. I've scoured more for tutorials or some other information.

My verdict is that this game just isn't finished, and whoever pulled the plug did so abruptly and left barely enough room to tie these apps off and get them to market. It kind of explains why we got both of them at the same time. I believe the wheel is the vestige of a gameplay mechanic that they repurposed to be a measurement of your progress. The statement for each of the three powers becomes more certain as you progress, like at first there's a statement about reality seeming maybe strange and as you get further in it gets closer to a statement like, "reality is fluid and we're everywhere at once." Like your philosophy is changing as you go along and the wheel is chronicling that for you.

So basically this isn't even a game book. It's a very short, limited choose your own adventure book. There are two paths for certain. The thing that killed me might be the third path leading to another ending? I'm just not that interested in going any further in a second run, let alone a third, given how underwhelming the game wraps up.

It's too bad, as there's a lot of potential here. The game is broken up into six dayS -- you could call them chapters, but the whole affair is so short they really don't deserve to be. I wouldn't have been as broken up if there were three or four more days and a more satisfying ending. There are major plot threads that just never get addressed. There are two characters that the main character saved at one point, but she doesn't remember doing it. In the last chapter I left a potential adversary/ally after almost killing them. The aforementioned two characters travel with me and a couple of others further north into Europe after the final battle. None of these things are resolved. No answers. No further resolution. Just some text saying whether or not the country helped the refugees or not. The end.

So much potential here, but I'm skeptical about them ever even fixing the text typos at this point.