Spell-flinging, sword-swinging fun is brought by the developers at Arrowhead Game Studios and publishers Paradox Interactive. Magicka is guaranteed to be the main cause of my future arthritis, but it was certainly worth it!
The story is simple. You start as a student wizard who has been sent to protect the King from an evil dark wizard who lays siege to the Capital. I am not quite sure why they cannot send a wizard who has actually graduated from wizard school, but let’s not question that point. You do get a chaperone on your trip. He isn’t a vampire, in case you were wondering. The entire story seems to poke a bit of fun at the stereotypical world of the fantasy genre, and I am glad for that. Fantasy needs a good poke in the ribs to remind itself that it doesn’t need to be taken seriously all the time.
The gameplay is simple to understand. You have eight different elements at your fingertips and each one serves a different purpose. By combining these elements in interesting and new ways you can cause different effects. For example you can combo up just good old fashioned Lightning to get a nice chain effect going. You could instead combine it with arcane element and you start firing out long-ranged lightning bolts! Finding out all the possible combinations of your spells is great fun, as well as the interesting effects they can cause! Trying to find out all the possible combinations will lead to hilarious results when you accidentally add healing into your attacks or set yourself on fire.
Another wonderful part of the gameplay is the idea that the environment plays heavily on what you can do – you will electrocute yourself if you are wet – so you can dry yourself out with a fire spell. You also should be careful with fire if you are travelling on ice!
Sadly, there had to be something. In this case it is the controls. Exactly like learning about using a computer for the very first time – you will find yourself completely disorientated. You start first with needing to realise that you need to control your spells with the “wasd” area of the keyboard, and suddenly you find yourself powering up spells when you are trying to walk. For the entire tutorial area I was constantly having to retrain my touch-typing fingers to realise that the mouse was my method of movement. It gets more complicated when you need to start using different mouse combinations to get different effects. Using the mouse to move and your fingers for spells calls of the need to retrain your coordination after years of gaming.
The graphics are simple but plenty enough for this game. While when the combat really kicks off it can get quite crowded on your little screen, it is by no means the worst game I have ever played. It can get annoying when mobs of monsters enter the screen and being able to tell how much health you have left can become a challenge. I really quite like the soundtrack, and even better you can download it for free. The sound effects are again simple but the blast of lightning sounds good, and the fireballs have realistic enough explosion noises. Certainly neither the graphics, soundtrack or sound effects are worth writing home about – but for such a bargain priced game you wouldn’t expect them to be.
The multiplayer I experienced was interesting, to say the least. You have two modes of gameplay to choose from with online players. You can either work your way through the campaign again or go into the arena. In the arena you will fight wave upon wave of enemies until you succumb to them and to see how far you can go. This all sounds great – the problem I had was there was no easy way of getting a game going and getting it to stay up. In some cases I would have awful lag and yet if I went to test my connection there would be no problems. I know the game has a few bugs in it (what game doesn’t?) but when one of its major selling features is facing issues you do have to wonder.
Despite the retraining of your fingers, the bugs and the lag in multiplayer, I have no trouble recommending Magicka. It is enjoyable and the developers seem devoted to the game with patches being released regularly. It has addictive gameplay qualities and fun combo discovery for spells which you can unleash on your foes. Its rough around the edges, no doubt about that, but once you look past those problems there is a great game to play.