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When I first saw this game, I figured it would be an interesting indie game that could amuse me for a few hours, but not much more than that. I was so very wrong. This seemingly innocent game has changed the way I see in game magic systems. Its unique and innovative game play became an addiction I have yet to find an antidote for, save booting it up and scorching some goblins with an uber beam. The storyline in the game is pretty straight forward, you play a student wizard sent off on his first epic quest of daring do. Along the way, you will run into all sorts of interesting characters, some who help and some who want to squish you like a tiny bug beneath a really really big shoe.
You will cross 11 levels of challenging opposition, nearly all of which culminates in a big boss fight. These, however are just the details of the game, and while the game is a truly original entry in a sea of everybody copycatting one another, its crowning glory is its moxie. If personality could be measured, this game is a 100 hit combo finishing in a swift kick to the soft and tenders.
The humor level in the game is just so well executed. From pop culture, to other games, films, and such. The team that developed this is held in high esteem in my book, if for nothing else, that they made a Diablo 2 reference that is really subtle. I love that everybody speaks a kind of pseudo-Scandinavian language that sounds really funny. The weapons in the game are varied and plentiful, and give you huge options as far as how to handle the hoards of baddies that want to splatter house your face.
Graphically, the game goes back to a top down style of map that feels really nostalgic. It also does a great job of hiding secrets everywhere so you feel a need to explore and discover the whole level. I had to go back a few times to look for stuff I missed, some of which were hiding in plain damn sight. The spell animations are really well done too. The whole thing has a level of polish to it that shows that its developers aren’t just programmers, these folks game hard.
Combat in the game is for the most part, handled by a really nifty magic system. It allows you to use certain combinations of keys for spell casting. The more complicated the combo, the more powerful the spell. You also find spell books scattered throughout the game that teach you unique spells, like Phoenix, which calls down a huge bird of fire to immolate your enemies. It requires some very quick thinking, and quite a lot of hand dexterity to survive, and I don’t mind telling you I died so many times you’d have thought I was of the opinion that was the point of the game. However the grand payoff here is rewarding as sin. Like when you see a giant troll who can kill you in one shot explode
in a sticky red meat shower after being pelted in the face with a giant death beam.
Why I died became glaringly clear when I started running into opposing mages. The developers built such an intricate system, that I wasn’t fathoming how to get the most out of it. Stacking spells, like covering myself with a body shield, and then making it rain, and then using an area of effect attack to electrocute or freeze all the surrounding enemies proved much more effective than a simple beam attack. Other tactics like creating mines with the shield spell, or slowing time for everyone else, and then hitting myself with haste give you a glimpse of just how deep the system goes.
The one downside to Magicka, and perhaps the only one I saw was that at launch, it had massive problems and bugs. I am glad to report though, that just a few short months after its release those are all but solved, and the game runs wonderfully. I really enjoyed both the first player and multiplayer experience from start to finish. I am very interested to see what Arrowhead Studios has in store for the next installment of Magicka, and I hope it is filled with as much personality and humor as the first.
I think just about anyone would get a kick out of playing this, from both hardcore players to the casual gamer. With secrets hidden around every corner, and a truly deep system that provides endless amounts of experimentation and visual pop, I can’t see someone not liking the game. Unless they don’t like pop culture, or a really interesting game. Interestingly enough, while most people would call Magicka an RPG, I would actually have to disagree. It stands out in its own, relatively unique, category of games. That is perhaps the best thing I could say about it. Magicka is a category unto itself.
Magicka was developed by Arrowhead Studios, and is published by Paradox Interactive and is available on PC.
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