Magicka is one of those games that’s intrigued me for awhile – and god only knows how long it was sitting, miscategorized, in my Steam library. But I noticed it the other day while looking for something completely different, and decided to give it a go.
I’m not sure why the devs made the choice to have the subtitles in English, but all the characters voiced by what sounds like a brigade of Charlie Brown adults. It almost put me off the whole experience before I even really began. The controls felt weird at first – it has very much an ARPG control scheme where the left mouse button is clicked and held to move your character around. But where Magicka really makes a name for itself is with spell casting.
During a fairly lengthy tutorial, you are introduced to the eight elements of magic (healing, earth, fire, lightning, cold, water, arcane and shielding), but for the most part, it only shows you a glimmer of what is possible. Single element spells are fine, for what they are, but the spellwork really shines when you start combining elements. Fire by itself just shoots out a spray of fire in the direction you’re facing. Earth makes a rock that you can throw. Combine the two, and you have a fireball.
So that’s the gist of it, but I couldn’t quite make it work. I’m sure there’s some kind of cue that lets you know if you need to charge a spell, or if you’re going to get a spray or a beam or a projectile, but I played through the entire first chapter and I was mostly just guessing.
For a moment, it looks like Magicka is going to be your semi-traditional quest-based RPG, but it’s just the beginning of the game making fun of the tropes. Although progress is fairly linear, you are rewarded with better weaponry and spell books if you take the time and really look around a level. I did spot a book I couldn’t figure out how to get to in the first chapter; after a few deaths and some frustration, I decided to just let it be.
Magicka has a fantastic sense of humor and a unique combat system (complete with friendly fire), and it’s easy to see how it would be oodles of fun in co-op. As a single player game, though, it fell a little bit flat for me. It’s a game I’ll likely revisit when I have a good chunk of time to really play through it and get used to the systems and controls, but it’s not a game – at least for me – where I can pick it up and put it down at will without suffering from the period of relearning I will need.
(yep, that’s me. Dead. In the tutorial.)