Though historically the idea of riding on a broomstick was associated with practices of witchcraft that were largely considered evil, the idea has since been rehabilitated, with no small part of that credit heading towards the Harry Potter franchise. For those who have dreamed of soaring through the sky on a broomstick, Magic Flight Academy offers just that.
The first thing you do is step out on to a plank, which is stretched out far above the towers and grounds of what we are informed is a magic school. This part will be familiar to people who have tried things like Richie’s Plank Experience.
From there, you grab a broom, and commence soaring through the sky. There are no real instructions on what to do, as this is very much more of the virtual reality (VR) ‘experience’ instead of a videogame. Instead, you are free to explore, practice navigating through glowing rings, or head inside the building to try your hand at zooming through the rooms and corridors.
At some point a big silver Chinese-style dragon appears and starts breathing fire over the grounds. You’ve had a magic wand since the start of the experience, and now you are meant to use it to defeat the dragon and save the Academy. Maybe. It’s not awfully clear.
It’s not very clear how exactly you use your wand to cast spells, either. With some flailing, its eventually possible to drive off the dragon, but it honestly feels more like it got bored and wandered off than you accomplishing a heroic defeat.
Graphically, it looks quite nice. The Magic Academy has a French château type of look, with pointy, soaring towers, an old-fashioned windmill and the rather beautiful tunnels underneath that are dotted with sparkling gemstones. However, everything feels… empty. There is no one else here, and as a result there is a slightly eerie, abandoned feeling to the place.
It’s also worth pointing out that the version available on Steam is the single-player part of a larger experience which was designed for VR Arcades and location-based VR centers. As such, it is quite awkward to play Magic Flight Academy when you don’t have a great deal of room. This is definitely something that works best at room scale.
That said, there isn’t much to do once you have zoomed around, explored everywhere and beaten the dragon. There doesn’t appear to be any kind of scoring system, and the multiplayer is gated off behind a commercial licence for VR Arcade operators, so not even that is available.
It’s also worth noting that developers Avantarico are charging £11.39 (GBP) for a very short VR experience with little replay value and no multiplayer that doesn’t work all that well unless you are playing in a fairly large space.
Magic Flight Academy needs to offer an awful lot more for the single-player experience for the price. What exists on Steam is exhilarating and reasonably fun, but simply isn’t worth the price of admission, especially when you consider the high-quality VR titles available on Steam for the same or lower price that offer much more in way of content.
Magic Flight Academy might be worth considering for commercial users, but simply does not offer enough for an average single-player home user.