Chapter One: Introduction
Magi Trials is a lewd visual novel available on Steam. This game took me about three hours to see one of eight endings. Unlocking all possible endings without holding down the “CTRL” key would probably take some time, even with a guide.
Chapter Two: Gameplay (4/5★)
Section One: Overview
As a visual novel, one should expect to read — alot.
Shaun (later known as “Sophie”) must make a handful of decisions throughout the game; with eight different endings to see, those choices play a hand in the events which unfold.
Section Two: Controls
The game controls as it should. It’s kind of hard to fuck up a visual novel, but some dev’s pull it off. I like how this game is fully keyboard and mouse controllable. All aspects of the application, including “Choices” and menus may be accessed via keyboard.
Chapter Three: Sexual Content (NA/5★)
Section One: Content
There are thirty-six entries in the “Gallery” (with “100 images to unlock”). However, as far as I’m aware there is no meaningful, sexual content in the game — not even bare nipples. Although the heroines of the story often find themselves without a uniform, all nudity is censored.
Section Two: Implementation
Sexually tense scenes are likely to occur in any playthrough, changing by Sophie’s decisions. Typically, they serve as comedic situations or opportunities for character bonding.
Section Three: Interactivity
Some scenes may offer a choice in what to say, but other than that one should only expect to read.
Section Four: Content
I adore the artwork, and I especially love all of the care put into facial expressions. However, I couldn’t help but feel teased whenever someone got naked and nobody got fucked.
Chapter Four: Story (4/5★)
Section One: Plot
Shaun wants to “get admitted to the Academy”. Determined to “try and make [himself] stronger”, he breaks into the Sorcerer’s Archives and cast a spell to “manify [his] own power”. Before Shaun can be admitted into the Academy, he must pass the Trial of Initiation, a combat exercise for prospective students to prove they’re fit for a “magical career”.
Turns out, fucking around in the Sorcerer’s Archive is dangerous — you might turn into a girl!
Shaun does in fact, magnify himself — but it isn’t his “power” which grows a few cup sizes! After narrowly securing a place in the Acadamy as an apprentice, Shaun must “Present [himself’ as a girl while in the school.” Forced to live as “Sophie” for “the foreseeable future”, he (or rather, she) must hone her skills for a rematch while “learning the language” along the way.
Shaun fails initiation, but Sophie is another shot to fulfil a promise he made years ago.
Section Two: Characters
For how long the story is, the characters are reasonably developed. There’s a lot of useless banter between the cast to bring out small details which breath life into each character. Shaun’s inner monologue helps sell his predicament.
For example, there’s a scene where Sophie loses her shit because someone might see her with make-up on. It’s an interesting scene that illustrates a conflict with gender identity — Sophie is a man inside, and it should be difficult to cope with unwanted breasts. I wish there were more moments in the story were Sophie is conflicted by her previous identity.
Sophie’s roomie, Charlie is an interesting girl — she reminds me of someone I knew in college. She says what’s on her mind, and when she wants something she won’t take “no” for an answer!
She’s an interesting contrast to shy Sophie (who’d otherwise never get “her bearings on how the school works.” But I don’t think the game ever explores her background, motivation or even so much as hints she’s a love interest. It’s fun reading her dialogue and watching her expressions, but in retrospect she’s not a very interesting character.
Charlie is kind of just. . . around.
The succubus shown in the promotional material doesn’t make an appearance until the latter half the game. Her schtick is that she’s always horny. I’m desensitized to her type (given the content I typically review), but she is starkly one-dimensional. It takes a long time before she is revealed as anything more than annoying solicitation (and by then, the story’s almost over!)
Section Three: Themes
In some ways, Magi Trials reminds me of my former years. When I “came out” in college, it was an experience with parallels to this story. Not sure if I wanted those memories to come back, but I think it says something about the writing in this game. But I wouldn’t recommend this game to anyone hoping to experience or relate to gender dysphoria. The premise of Shaun being a man in a woman’s body is simply a vehicle to show semi-erotic artwork.
Normally, I wouldn’t make a big deal out of such topics, but considering Magi Trials has no pornographic content I am forced to read more intensely into remaining content.
Chapter Five: Sound (3/5★)
Section One: Soundtrack
The music is for the most part, suiting for what’s taking place on screen. At first, I was put off by the main-men. Fortunately, Magi Trials‘ first impression doesn’t set an example of what’s to come.
I enjoyed the selection which follows, but I found the choice of music didn’t always align with the tone of dialogue.
Section Two: Sound Effects
There are no sound effects in the game. I’m surprised, because I thought I’d hear what was being described — like foot steps or magic spells taking form.
Maybe crackling fire? There isn’t so much as ambient sound effects.
Chapter Six: Visuals (4/5★)
Section One: User-interface
The main-menu is stylistically out of place, but the rest of the game is bright and useable. Adjusting audio an display preferences from “Settings” and saving/loading is quick and easy.
Section Two: Graphics
There were a few images here and there which felt premade, but for the most part artwork is stylistically consistent. Nothing felt out of place (strictly graphically speaking anyways).
Shaun Sophie’s portraits in the bottom left were more expressive; the only information it conveys is what she’s wearing. Seeing her smiling face didn’t feel right whenever she was worriedly monologuing with herself. I’m not sure why Dharker Studios even bothered with the corner portrait when it would have made more sense to display Sophie alongside other characters.
Chapter Seven: Verdict (4/5★)
Even though visual novels aren’t my thing, I had fun reading Magi Trials! It’s fun for a playthrough or two, but replaying the game isn’t very fun. I’d lose my patience if I pursued new endings without literally skipping most of the text. With only a few hours of reading and too many time skips, it’s not a game to get invested into either. But as long as you’re (A) not interested in adult content and (B) looking for a quick read, Magi Trials is an alright entry into the world of genderbending.