Release Date: January 7th, 2009
Available On: Mobile, PC
Reviewer’s Note: I played this game on PC. There may be differences between versions.
There aren’t too many third person shooters where the characters use magic instead of guns. Caster colored me interested by suggesting the idea. It’s one I’d like to see done, but there’s not nearly enough to Caster to have made it good enough in this game.
Here’s the entire plot of Caster: there’s some weird alien species called the Flanx attacking. The Caster Guild sends a newbie Caster (you) to go assist. That’s basically it. After the quick introduction the plot never moves at all. Nothing happens and each mission is basically just a contextless battle or collection job. Or sometimes disinfecting trees because… why not I guess.
Caster is a third person shooter where magic abilities take the place of guns. At the start of the game the only ability I had access to was basically a single burst of magic, a dash ability, and a double jump. Over the course of the game I found more abilities to use of varying use. A bomb-like skill was great for taking out swarms of tiny enemies, while a stun kept the fast enemies frozen in place. Later into the game I found a spell that basically just launched a bunch of seeker missiles at enemies and once I got and upgraded that spell I never really saw much use of using anything else. A spell that put up a protective shield and then launched it at enemies was basically worthless, as was a spell that basically just raised land masses.
Each level in Caster put me in an open area with some objective. The two most common were to either kill all enemies or to grab specific orbs. Levels are almost astoundingly empty and are often just flat areas with enemies here and there. Rarely I may have been asked to hit a tree with any of my spells, but it was all basically the same thing: show up in the flat boring area and shoot spells until the game let me leave. Broken into two campaigns, Caster’s first campaign feels like long one extended tutorial. So hilariously easy, this campaign feels like its mostly there for the player to find and experiment with the six spells on enemies that are so easy that there’s no way to really lose. Only the last level really provided any challenge, and that ended up just being a matter of figuring out how to approach it.
The second, shorter, campaign is where the real meat and potatoes is. The game opens up with harder enemies that require a bit more strategy to defeat, and unique objective that even try to use the spells I considered useless. One level had me escorting a cargo carrying snail thing across an acid lake, having to raise landmasses for it so it could pass in peace. Yet there’s still not enough of these, and the majority of the missions still involved me killing all the enemies and collecting all the orbs. Worse, it doesn’t last long enough. The first campaign, the tutorial one, is only in the hour and a half range. The second probably clocks in at an hour. Apparently four more campaigns have been planned as post-launch content, but since its six years later and they haven’t shown up yet then we can probably assume they’re not coming.
Caster could have really been something interesting. Yet repetitive mission objectives and dull gameplay really ruins it. I’m still interested in the concept and I only can hope a studio with more experience takes a crack at it next time.