Guardians of Magic: Amanda’s Awakening is an imperfect but fun little adventure.
Amanda is a whiz with chemistry and physics, but she never had a knack for magic. However, when a trip to her grandfather’s old house turns into a rescue mission and more, she’s forced to pick up the basics in a hurry as she becomes a Guardian of Magic in defense against the encroaching menace of – gasp! – science.
Guardians of Magic: Amanda’s Awakening is a simple adventure/puzzle game in which the title character, Amanda, is tasked with discovering who is threatening the realm of magic and, if possible, putting a stop to it. To help her accomplish her goal, her late grandfather left behind two magical machines, a bubble blower that reveals invisible mystical creatures, and a “power drain” device that sucks all the electricity out of whatever it’s pointed at. Unfortunately, he didn’t leave them in one piece. Instead, he stashed the parts to the devices in a half-dozen different locales, some magical and some mundane, and now it’s up to Amanda to track them down and put them together so she can get on with the job.
This isn’t a hidden object game, however. The parts are locked inside puzzle boxes left lying here and there, some in plain sight and others concealed inside trunks or tangled up in bushes. None of them are hard to find, nor are their locks especially tricky. You’ll assemble geometric puzzles, pass a key through sliding blocks, match hidden pairs and more, but none of the brainteasers are particularly challenging, even in the later stages of the game.
Puzzles are the focus in Guardians of Magic: Amanda’s Awakening but there’s some old-fashioned adventuring to do as well. You’ll need to find water to make some tea and a shovel to dig into some sand, and you can be pretty confident that those strange symbols you find hidden around the house will come in handy later. Like the puzzles, however, none of it is overly perplexing. The game’s various tasks are all simple, one-step affairs with very obvious solutions.
As Amanda’s powers begin to awaken she’ll learn four spells that will help her on her journey. Travel, the first spell she picks up, is used to move between the various magical realms that link to her grandfather’s home. Fire and Freeze are both self-explanatory, while Spark is handy for disabling the flying robots that turn up now and then to hinder her progress. That’s right, flying robots; in this game, even science has a bit of a magical bent.
Each spell is cast by tracing a symbol on the screen, which is a fun idea, but the magic aspect overall comes off feeling a bit flat. Instead of having to “learn” spells in some way, they’re simply handed out at arbitrary times, and aside from Travel they’re very rarely used. Even the unique, interactive casting mechanism doesn’t add much to the experience because, as it turns out, it’s actually not necessary at all; just the slightest motion of the cursor within the spell outline is enough to trigger it.
Guiding Amanda along on her quest is another magician named Mera, who’s being held captive in an unknown location and needs help to escape. She’s quick with a hint but not always very specific with her advice, often suggesting only that you need to “look around a little more.” That’s accurate as far as it goes, but figuring out where to look, or what to look for, is left up to you.
This is where the game can potentially become frustrating. Puzzle boxes tend to stand out but other inventory items often don’t, and the game makes no use of the “sparkle effect” or anything similar to point them out. Pixel hunting is inevitable and if you happen to overlook something, you’re stuck until you can track it down. The game isn’t huge by any stretch, but it’s not hard to imagine that traipsing back and forth searching for the one thing you’re missing could become a bit trying. It’s certainly not an unusual component of adventure games but it seems a bit odd in this one because in most other respects, Guardians of Magic: Amanda’s Awakening feels like it was made for beginners or players who want nothing more than some game-induced relaxation.
The bubble machine, once completed, adds a cool and fun little twist to the game, although its actual usefulness comes to an end pretty quickly. It’s not visually spectacular by any means but the hand-painted backgrounds are pleasant and welcoming, while the characters are rendered in a more cartoonish, slightly oddball style. The small amount of voice acting is decidedly dull, but the music is another matter entirely and does a great job of crafting a lush, otherworldly audio backdrop. Oddly enough for a game of this type, it seems to suffer from some performance issues, often growing choppy and sluggish, although still quite playable.
There’s not much here for serious adventurers but the simple, whimsical nature of Guardians of Magic: Amanda’s Awakening makes it a great choice for gamers who are just getting their feet wet with genre. At an easy two hours, it’s an imperfect but fun little game, with world-saving action that won’t bend their brains or test their patience.