Genre: Role Playing Developer: Publisher: Paradox Interactive Classification: M Consumer Advice: Recommended for mature audiences 15 years and over
Release Date: 25th Jan 2011 Platforms:
Login to submit your review score
The Good bits
Innovative combat system.
Fun to play with friends.
The Bad stuff
Broken. Utterly broken.
Confusing control scheme.
Difficulty doesn’t scale.
A note: Limimi attempted to play Magicka from the beginning six times, both multi-player and single player, after patches fixing content were released. Due to Magicka’s bugs, he only ever made it as far as Chapter 5 before his progress was wiped and he was forced to start over. After the sixth wipe, he gave up. He played for a total of 13 hours.
Magicka is a spell based action game with a strong emphasis on playing co-operatively, developed by Arrowhead Game Studios and published by Paradox Interactive.
“It’s published by Paradox you say?” My friend - who had agreed to play the game with me to check out its co-op elements - said with mock astonishment as we stared at my frozen computer screen - just like his and my other friends’. I knew what he meant. While I had next to no trouble with Hearts of Iron III - developed and published by Paradox - he’d been to hell and back trying to get it running.
Forums (other than the official Paradox Plaza forums of course) abound with posts by users claiming Paradox games aren’t worth playing until a month had passed. Hyperbole is the language of the internet, but Paradox games definitely have their share of bugs at release.
It is understandable with a Grand Strategy game - it would be very difficult to account for every possibility on every system - although by no means does that make it ok. Magicka, on the other hand, has no excuse whatsoever. It released with almost completely broken multi-player - which, when partially fixed, featured a multiplayer lobby system similar to the kind every other game developer had thankfully stopped using a decade ago.
Online multi-player is now sometimes playable, but while enlisting my friends’ help, it refused to work for longer than five minutes at a time. They agreed to come over and play local co-op, all on the same PC.
“Not to worry”, I thought, grabbing out my collection of cool and pointless keyboard and mice gathering dust on a shelf. My little gaming den/office had a comfy couch and my big television is hooked up to my PC as well as my consoles. I only had two stable tables, so one person on the couch was going to have to use a book as a mouse mat - but the rest of us would be very comfortable.
Wrong. One person can play with a keyboard and mouse, the other three need PC compatible controllers. I was interested to see how the controllers managed the large variety of spell combinations anyway, so I grabbed three Xbox 360 controllers and plugged them in - one via wireless, one via a charge and play cable and my old reliable wired
360 controller built specifically for the PC. None of them showed up. I rebooted my PC and tried again. Still nothing.
Nevertheless, I was supplying drinks and food so nobody wanted to leave. We attempted to play over a LAN connection and were greeted with success! Happily, enthusiastically, we jumped into the game.
Once in the game, it’s pretty easy to forget any problems you had getting it going - playing with friends is both hectic and frequently ridiculous. It comes from the key gameplay element - mixing magicks to create spell combinations. Mind you, it might take some time to get used to the controls - your eight spells are assigned to the keys Q,W,E,R,A,S,D and F, with Left mouse button moving your character, Right mouse button casting a spell in the direction of the cursor and Middle mouse button targeting self. And those are just the bare essentials. Fortunately, they aren’t so obscure you won’t get used to them.
While it might appear to be an RPG at first, Magicka has more in common with an old school beat-em up like Streets of Rage or Double Dragon. You don’t have an inventory, you don’t level up, there are no shops or side quests. You just walk through the levels, possibly finding a secret area and a chance to gain a different (but not necessarily better) sword or staff. Enemies attack, enemies die, you reach the end of the level and move on. This is not a criticism of the game, in fact it’s a nice change from the increasingly involved inventory and character management found even outside the RPG genre these days.
You have at your fingertips the aforementioned eight different spells: Water, Healing, Shield, Ice, Fire, Lightning, Arcane, and Stone. However, while you can just cast fire, or arcane or etc, you can also combine up to five spells at a time to create different, more powerful spells. Combine fire and water and you will shoot a cone of steam out in front of you. Combine lightning and arcane and you blast an electrical beam from your palms, destroying any goblins in its path.
Each spell has its opposite, which cancels it out, generally based on what you expect - lightning for example, is cancelled out by water and earth. But by blasting an enemy with water, then zapping him with lightning, you will cause a lot more damage than a simple jolt of electricity would do. Similarly, casting cold on a wet enemy will freeze him to ice.
Once you’ve played around with the combinations though, the game mechanics fall apart and you can waltz through without worrying much about shielding yourself from attacks. This is especially true of multiplayer, as the difficulty doesn’t scale with the amount of
players - making four player games a cakewalk.
Once you stop trapping or ‘accidentally’ killing each other at least. If you and your friends don’t go for humour at your friends’ expense however, you will probably grow tired of Magicka fairly quickly. The game touts itself as humourous in its pitch, which should be a warning in itself. The humour in the game is built out of jokes about RPG stereotypes, wacky antics and fantasy pop culture references.
Ignoring the wacky antics, I think its about time people gave up on the fantasy pop culture references, at least until some fantasy series starts another meme. As for RPG stereotypes, I think I might have a new one to fit in between the townsperson who offers you a quest to do something trivial and the townsperson who claims heroes bring trouble with them (the beginning of the game.) How about a townsperson who is making a ‘funny’ game which isn’t funny and instead just points to all of the stereotypes of the genre everybody else noticed a decade ago.
As mentioned in the disclaimer at the top of this review, I only ever got as far as Chapter 5 playing single player, so perhaps they were keeping the good stuff for later. If they hadn’t released their game in such an unfinished state, I might have spat my drink all over the monitor and fallen out of my chair laughing at the hilarious antics the various characters got up to and comical things they noticed about video games.
Of course, while I only ever got as far as Chapter 5 playing single player, multi-player was a different story - although both ended the same way.
I stared with my friends at my frozen computer. It was the host, but instead of kicking them from the game when my computer locked up, their game had frozen too. Luckily I was the only one who had needed to reboot. We’d been nearing the end of Chapter 3 when it happened - not very far into the game as it was - but I already knew what I would see when I got back into the game. Our campaign slot was empty. And so was my single player campaign, where I had reached Chapter 5 after restarting the game twice before.
I am 100% behind any developer who takes a risk and makes something innovative instead of following the same old format. Even though it isn’t possible mathematically, I am 200% behind a small studio who has the guts to do it. I started Magicka over from the beginning six times in my attempt to give it the best possible chance I could. In the end though, I can’t possibly suggest anyone spend any money on a game released in such a broken state, whether it’s ten dollars or ten cents.
I look at as a "proof of concept" more than a real game to be honest, but i didn't play through the whole game. I decided to wait and get the bugs fixed before i bothered. I got the game from steam and have noticed 3 or 4 patches so far but, haven't tried to play it for now.
As a concept i thought it was great - add the magic system to a really good story like Diablo - or a really good action RPG like Diablo or Torchlight or Titan Quest and I think the game could be a best seller. The magic system is that interesting and intelligent.
It would need some quick buttons to remix and recast elements quickly and easily in my opinion and a far more character based system to increase skill and power which elements, Health, etc. Then Items that really make some difference to the game.
Like i say -- great concept - fun to play and engaging -- well worth the $10 -- add the elements it needs to be a great action RPG and I'd pay $30 or more to play it. Torchlight 2 will be great -- Diablo 3 should be a blast. Magicka needs some work to be in their league.
its a fun game def worth the buy, i think the reviewers score was IMMENSELY harsh, there are some pretty funny moments even in single player from the steam achievement of 'THIS IS MAGICKAAA!' and saving a small village which in return give you an M60 machinegun.... so all in all i love this little indie game, infact it blows the likes of most indie games out, excluding amnesia dark descent.
but this is just a review, for 10 bucks you can give it a go :)