Friday, February 25th, 2011
Magicka is a satirical action-adventure game set in a fantasy world based around Norse mythology. You take on the role of a wizard, who has set out on an adventure to stop an evil sorcerer and the hordes of minions/creatures he has at his disposal.
Magicka’s core gameplay comes in the form of – surprise surprise – the spells you cast. There are 8 different elements you can combine to create your spell, selected by eight different keys; Q,W,E,R,A,S,D, and F; with right-click used to cast.
You can have up to five elements in a spell, mixing them for different effects. For example, if you combine fire and water you get steam, which is used in some spells.
It’s a nice system, but it does mean your spells can require a lot of key presses, which you will either have to memorise or use a list to scroll to the one you want before keying it in…not always easy when you have a ton of goblins hitting you with swords, arrows and bombs.
A quick example of the way spell casting works would be: You select fire, creating a small cone of fire in front of you. Selecting fire five times will give you a far bigger cone, or alternatively you can press shift and create a fire attack all round you.
Now back to that single fire, if you add an Earth to it you get a fireball. If you add Arcane to it you get a longer range on your fireball. With so many fun and varied combinations to create, Magicka’s spell system is almost worth the admission price alone.
Furthermore, you can also cast spells on yourself by pressing the mouse wheel. This can be a heal or a shield, or a “sort yourself out” type of effect.
If you are wet, casting fire on yourself will dry yourself out, and vice versa if on fire use water to put yourself out. This is more than just a gimmick in Magicka, which I soon discovered after wading through water, getting wet, deciding to cast an Electricity spell and electrocuting myself. Ouch.
You move about the screen by holding the left mouse button down, your little wizard walking to wherever your arrow is pointing. The spells and movement controls do take a bit of getting used to, and it can all get a little frantic and panicky when you are swarmed by enemies.
Magicka is very funny. The conversations between characters genuinely made me laugh (often while getting strange looks from my wife), and the made up ‘language’ the wizard and those he meets use is a treat to hear too. It’s like watching foreign language films with the odd English word thrown in. You can even play guess the quote if you wish, with loads of memorable quotes from Star Wars, Star Trek, Back to the Future and Monty Python.
There is online Co-op play available for up to four people, which is reminiscent of Gauntlet but with a lot more magic, blood and exploding goblins. You can also solo or co-op the challenge mode, where players are thrown into an arena and must defend themselves from waves of enemies.
Magicka’s spell system is good, and takes practice and experimentation to master. The control system may be a bit different but you get used to it after some frustrating moments.
The game’s cartoony look goes perfectly with its tone and humour, and the audio from the characters, as well as the sound effects in general, are just as appropriate.
This is a rare breed of fantasy-action-adventure that is both funny and challenging with no leveling, no stats and no running out of mana.