Magicka is an action oriented role playing game by Arrowhead Game Studios. The company’s philosophy is based on three guiding principles – entertainment, innovation, and quality.  The members of Arrowhead have been working together since 2008. Does Magicka  hold true to this philosophy? Let us delve into the world of spell-craft  and see.

Magicka

The Story begins amidst a crisis,  you are given a task you, the Wizards of the Order of Magick. The capital Haivindr is under siege and it is up to you to defend it. The world of midgard will need protection and what better protection than a mage.

Throughout your travels you will come across 13 levels each even more dastardly than the last. You Draw upon the magic spells that can be combined together from the 8 elements of fire, earth, life, ice, water, arcane, lightning, and shield. As you progress you will learn even more devastating spells through spell tomes. Each element is tied to a key and can be used in various combinations, you can queue up to five elements at one time. Take your time and experiment to learn various combinations. Learning how to cast is like learning how to type patience is virtue.

Magicka’s spell system allows the player freedom of experimentation and discovery. It is an action role playing game, but there is not many things in terms of loot, experience gains ,  no leveling, and no currency system. Instead, magicka  focuses on combining elemental magicks to produce different effects and abilities.

Practice and experimentation is the key part of the game. After enough trial and error your fingers will move throughout the keyboard with trained precision to unleash many varieties of spells, anywhere from heal beams to death lasers.There is a satisfying and rewarding feeling learning the logic of each element as well. Each element has an opposing element say you are  wet you can douse the water with fire to allow you to cast lightning. Strong magical elements also slow down the player’s character drastically so you can not run with a powerful spell combo. Instead you have to react quickly when a new threat appears. Your success is dependent on skill , speed, and timing.

There are many references in this game that pay homage to many different games and people. Anywhere from Monty python to zelda, let us see if you can find them all. The humor within each reference be it nostalgia or just a simple joke makes this game enjoyable throughout its entirety.  Some jokes fall flat but others hit the nail on the head fitting for paying homage to the source material.

The visuals of this game are bright and colorful almost like you are inside of a cartoon. The outdoor area is a lush green forested area with small villages throughout the landscape. The mages in this game look like they are straight out of a saturday morning cartoon, with the generic hoods and pointed hats that hide the face, iconic mage garb in most scenarios.

The audio in this game is also very unique as well.  Each character speak in a bizarre language that sounds like the swedish chef from the muppets that makes this game humorous in its own right. The sound from your casting also match each individual element, for example  casting a fireball sounds like an impactful explosion making it ideal for that spell. The creatures also sound amazing from your goblins annoying high pitched voices to trolls scary deep voices, each component makes the games audio mesh well together.

Gameplay is very innovative but feels kind of sluggish at times, as a mage you have to cast spells and doing so requires time depending on how fast you the player can learn the combinations.  You have three types of casting Self-casting, forward-casting, and area-casting.

Self-casting allows you the player to cast on yourself like putting shields up or healing yourself. Forward-casting allows the player to cast spells in front of the character which is basically your damage spells. Area-casting is casting area of effect spells that range from a variety of things anywhere from walls of stone to landmines it is a good way to clear multiple enemies at once or crowd control damage output by the creatures attacking you. Players can also invite their friends to play with them with up to 4 players on story mode. Whats better than one mage?  The answer is four mages.

Next, the music in this game gives off that medieval type feel that is standard in games that take place in these type of games. The music has that atmospheric type feel to it and is a key component to making each area come to life. Battle music, and exploration music both have their own charms which makes this game even more exciting.

Despite the strength of the story, humor, gameplay, and scenery Magicka is in a rough state. Scripted sequences often break leading to game crashes,performance issues, enemies getting stuck in the environment,  falling through the floor, and not being able to pick anything up make this game very tedious and unforgiving. This leads to restarting the level over or dying over and over again to gain progress. This leads to repetitive gameplay and needs patching.

Playing Magicka is not like your average action adventure role-playing game. The gameplay is innovative, but challenging and requires some reflex training to really utilize the controls fully. Unfortunately the games game breaking bugs need a well deserved patch thats long overdue. Even so with a group of four people working as a team, Magicka’s cooperative play makes the gameplay even more fun and chaotic. It’s unique combat system makes this game feel very satisfying after learning the mechanics and how they work. all in game has a great presentation,has very innovative mechanics, and great story, the game breaking bugs, repetitive gameplay   and slow paced fighting with a high learning curve make this game fall a tad bit short in terms of gameplay.

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