So you’re a fan of wizards, witches, and mages? Here are my top recommendations for you.
Is there anything more magical in the world of fantasy media than wizards and witches?
I mean, in a literal sense, probably not.
If you’re like me, you’ve always gravitated towards mages, sorcerers, magicians, and such in the world of fantasy tropes. Maybe it’s the class you always pick in the games you play. Or maybe you can’t stop thinking of the concept of a “school for wizards.”
This list is a handy set of recommendations not just for you, but also for my future self. I’ll continuously update this over time when I come across something new that really scratches that magical itch.
Let’s get our fix of sorcery with a variety of media that I feel really explores the concept of magic in a cool way! Yeah!
Comics / Manga / Graphic Novels
Witch Hat Atelier by Kamome Shirahara
This may be one of my favorite manga of all-time, now. It’s got it all: mages, mentors, rivalries, a cool magic system, action, drama, character growth, and beautiful artwork.
If you’ve ever read or watched a series like Naruto, Hunter x Hunter, or My Hero Academia, you know the drill by now. The story takes place in a world of witches and normal non-magic folks. We follow Coco, a girl who is absolutely enamored by witches and magic (honestly, same.) She believes she has no potential for magic powers of her own, but is quickly thrust into an apprenticeship with a witch mentor and his other three witch students. They study, they train, they make mistakes, and they try to help out the civilians around them while they do it.
If you love when worlds have a really specific system for how their magic works, which is elegantly explained and really cool, you’ll love this. It’s also got great shonen action, great character moments, and a really lovely theme of how magic in this world is a sort of metaphor for real world skills/struggles that I won’t spoil for you.
Lots of action-RPGs have “mage” as a class, but what if a game was just all mages and the developers spent all of their effort on that? That’s basically what Magicka is. It really goes all-out on the spellcasting system.
The game has your usual elements (fire, water, earth, etc.) that you cast in different combinations to get different spells. So you could use Fire + Water, or Frost + Lightning, or Fire + Fire + Fire, or Fire + Earth + Earth in dozens of combinations to get different spells. It’s a very cool concept, and pretty much lets you play in whatever style you want and get different effects going on your enemies.
It’s got 4-player co-op, and a full sequel, Magicka 2.
If you tried Magicka and it was a little too complicated for you, I feel like this game is a good singleplayer alternative. I haven’t beaten it yet, but it’s similarly an action-RPG where you play as a mage learning different spells. The cool thing is, you actually “create” the spells yourself how you want them by combining different keywords and effects together in a really cool skill system.
If you like Legend of Zelda but wish you were a cool mage with customized skills, this is what you’ve been searching for.
Magical Diary: Wolf Hall is a cute and fun visual novel where you attend a wizarding school. That would sell me on it’s own, but the game goes even further.
In addition to having traditional visual novel elements, the game also has legitimate school simulation and spellcasting elements. You choose which classes to attend and what to focus on, thus increasing your abilities in certain types of magic. Then, you actually have to take practical exams where you enter a dungeon and have to use the spells that you’ve chosen to learn to figure out solutions to different situations.
It’s such a cool idea and I’ve never seen any other game try something like this. If you’re not a big romance/visual novel fan, just know the game is pretty much PG-13 and the steamiest thing that happens is a kiss. Plus all romance is optional!
EDIT: I previously recommended “Magical Diary: Horse Hall” here, but I feel like the sequel Wolf Hall is an improvement in every way! You can start with Wolf Hall.
This game takes the concept of attending a magic school even further. It’s a text-based adventure with the structure of those old browser RPGs, where you have stats and an inventory and you’re clicking around to different pages and locations. It’s a very detailed, immersive experience of being a new student in a magic school, and all the different things you can explore and study.
I haven’t gotten far in it because honestly it’s all kind of intimidating to me, but if you’re more hardcore, you should give it a shot.
This game is probably my favorite Tower Defense game. The reason it’s my favorite is because it lights up so many parts of my brain that get excited about magic stuff. One of my favorite things about magic in fiction, and in games particularly, is the ability to combine effects together. Gemcraft takes that to an extreme, with a system of arming towers with gems you fuse together.
Blue Gems slow enemies, Red Gems do splash damage. Combine them together into one, and that Gem now slows enemies and does splash damage. There’s tons of combinations, and you get a bonus potency of the effect for keeping a gem’s color monochromatic. Combining the gems changes the shape, changing triangles into diamonds into pentagons into hexagons, etc. It’s all very satisfying and “addictive” in a really fun way.
The games also generally have a good difficulty curve, with additional challenges you can layer on top of old levels when you repeat them. There’s several of these games out now, some are free and at least two of them are on Steam.
Wizard of Legend: A very fun rogue-lite action-RPG on Steam where you play as a wizard! There’s loads of different spells under different elemental schools, and you pick which one you want as your Primary Attack, Secondary Attack, Dash, Ultimate, etc.
Noita: A side-scrolling spellcasting rogue-lite that I haven’t tried yet!
Wizard101: I’ve never played it myself but this seems like a cool (if not cheesy) kid-friendly card-battler MMO about being a wizard. Lots of different schools of magic to choose from, which essentially act as MMO classes! I’ve heard good things!
Books / Interactive Fiction
Choice of Magics by Kevin Gold
This is a choose-your-own-adventure story about being a mage. As the chapters go on, you can choose to focus in a particular school of magic, which means that you’ll have to use that school more and more to solve problems (and to try to make society a better place.) There’s also some friendship and romance options among different people in your life, and lots of branching in the narrative.
In addition to being cool for all the usual wizard-y reasons, I also really like how this story explores how magic could help, or harm, the world by the player taking it to an extreme. Lots of cool moments that kind of touch on automation, climate change, resource scarcity, and other issues that a wizard might solve or cause.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve always gravitated towards the concept of mages. You’ll never catch me out there on the front-line with a chain-mail vest and a big broadsword. No, no, no, no. Pass me one of those dusty tomes.
Many stories and games feature wizards of some kind, but they’re just one aspect of the experience. I hope this list helps you find new media that delves deep into the whimsy and power-fantasy of being a magician with a colorful cloak.
I’ll re-visit this page a few times and add anything else that I discover that I feel deserves a slot.
Happy spellcasting! (Wait, that was a bad way to end it, forget I said that.)