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Magicka Review

(Image from Arrowhead Studios)

We can infer two things from the graphics presenting Magicka. Either Orko from He-Man on LSD, or a magical, action-packed computer role-playing game. Ironically, Magicka resembles the former more. We can infer two things from the promotional images for Magicka. Either Orko from He-Man on LSD, or a magical, action-packed computer role-playing game. Ironically, Magicka resembles the former more.

The game made by Arrowhead Games is nothing unique in terms of the plot. We are members of a magical organisation, and Grimnir, a terrible sorcerer, is threatening to destroy the world to rule it like every other villain. So we combine our forces with those of the kingdom of Hávindr and attempt to defeat the villain and his armies. Additionally, there will be several instances of internet memes being used throughout the game, such as “In Soviet Magicka, elements conjure you!” What makes me laugh the most, though, is how detached the game designers are from themselves, as when they make fun of us for overly double-checking objects in a pointless game.

Of course, humorous writing alone won’t win over gamers; mechanics are as crucial. When it comes to character movement, Magicka adheres to the Diablo style; we manage it by clicking the left mouse button. The parallels between the two works stop here, though. An RPG is not Magicka. The character is not developed, the equipment is confined to what we can grasp in our hands, and the quests are merely carried out.

Why is Magica so well-liked, then? This book’s entire concentration on wielding magic as a weapon is what gives it such an alluring force. The creators devised a complex mechanism of fusing up to eight different elements—water, cold, fire, lightning, earth, shield, “arcane,” and life—to do this. We must assemble individual magic spheres into sequences of up to 5 components while playing the game. This offers us a whopping tens of thousands of potential combinations in total! 

(Image from Nexus)

Of course, not every single one of these sequences received special treatment from the developers; it would be almost impossible. The majority of them are learned through experimenting, but the fundamental ones are handed to us during play. For instance, combining lightning, arcane, and fire can temporarily improve the player character. On the other hand, if fire or water are added to the shield, a barrier specific to that element will be created. And if that weren’t confusing enough, spells behave differently depending on whether they are cast in front of us, on a character, or on a weapon. As was already noted, there are numerous combinations, and long after the initial game, you may still find new “patterns” of magic. It’s so much simpler to experiment with new spells in Magicka because there are no “mana” restrictions for the user. The designers gave up on this aspect after realising that just integrating the parts would take too much time. Naturally, this turned out to be beneficial for their business because Magicka requires teamwork and rapid thinking from players.

There is also player collaboration! For lonely wizards, Magicka’s single player mode might be a little monotonous. Undoubtedly, this is a performance that is best enjoyed with companions—three people, to be exact. When one person heals, another guards the rear, and the other two combine their magic beams to produce one lethal stream of energy that eliminates enemies, only then can all the chaos on the battlefield be transformed into a real demonstration of collaboration. Of course, not until both streams make use of opposing forces. Then, we may anticipate a huge boom.

Because conflicts between certain schools of magic are so crucial, poor pairings harm us. We can already brace our faces for an intense heat wave from the steam that results from attempting to merge the stream of water with the spell of fire. The same rule applies to using lightning magic while wet. You must first dry yourself by setting yourself on fire, and then, and only then, can you blast lightning like a Sith Lord. It’s a lot of fun to use these logical dependencies, and it’s quite satisfying when we come up with a really good combination.

Magica’s visuals are difficult to criticise. We are looking for exceptionally well-modelled people and environments. There are no stretched textures and everything is vibrantly coloured. Particularly one of the concluding sections, where we sprint across rocky islands dangling in the air and which also move like the fabled Hogwarts staircases, gives off a little trippy feeling. Maybe this is another allusion. In addition to these positive aspects, Magicka also has drawbacks, most are technical. The network programming for the game was first utterly broken, but as time went on, the creators started to virtually daily issue problem patches. The game is now playable, however crashes or server disconnections continue to happen. 

(Image from Game Watcher)

Additionally, there are various issues with the gameplay itself. All control has been given to the mouse as a result of the utilisation of up to 8 components. As a result, we are compelled to remain stationary when casting spells. The game therefore becomes less dynamic, but on the plus side, we become more reliant on our friends. Playing co-op is the ideal option in this situation, as is made very evident by this. One more gameplay fix when playing Magicka is annoying. A checkpoint-based saving mechanism is the subject. Individual save checkpoints are placed far too seldom, and if we die, we must repeat tedious battles before facing a big enemy once more. Additionally, by quitting the game, we doom ourselves to having to start the current level over from scratch, and that is just a huge no-no.

I already remarked how lovely the visuals are in Magicka. Unfortunately, when 3–4 players are haphazardly wandering the screen, these multiple flash effects merge into an unintelligible riot of colours. Then, it’s challenging to even see your own health bar.

Overall, Magicka provides a lot of fun for a reasonable price. Even though it still has some glitches and a frustrating save mechanism, if you go on this difficult adventure with your buddies, you’ll find a satisfying reward for good collaboration along the road. 

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