Magicka - Lightning arcs from target to target.

Magicka is a dungeon crawler that was released recently on Steam. I’ve played through quite a fair bit, and aside from some crashing issues(which are supposed to be fixed soon) it’s quite a good game. The central hook of the game is the spellcasting system, which lets you combine eight elements for different effects. There’s also a co-op mode, where up to four players play through a campaign or survival mode together, but I haven’t been able to play that.

Magicka doesn’t feature any item system, apart from letting you pick up different weapons/staffs that have different effects. This lets you focus purely on the combat, which is really what the game is about, without having to muck about with different items and min-maxing. The only progression system in the game comes from fixed spells that can only be cast if you have picked them up, but most of them aren’t necessary(those that are are forced onto you).

Fights are usually quite one-sided when you’re facing normal mooks, but it does get alot harder when armoured units or even spellcasters are brought in for the enemy. Spells tend to react with each other – if you cast Lightning on a wet enemy, the damage is doubled. One of the cool things about the game is also how you can fight enemy spellcasters – if you cast shield on yourself, and the enemy spellcaster casts an Arcane beam on you, the beam bounces off of you.

The game is a little too easy at the start due to how powerful simple combinations like Lightning+Arcane are, but it does get alot harder in the later levels. I had alot of trouble beating some of the bosses before I figured out how to properly defend myself using Shield combinations. Glass cannon-ing doesn’t really work when you’re facing a boss that can one-shot you, so learning how to defend yourself is vital in the later parts of the game.

Magicka - Arcane bounces off shields

As far as story goes, there isn’t really one aside from the generic save-the-world plot. The humour of the game is great, with plenty of references to other games and movies, but that doesn’t really make a good plot, just a funny story. Dialogue is quite interesting, with most of the game being spoken in some strange language that seems to be a cross between Swedish and English. I think it was a good choice to dub the game in a nonsense language, so that you don’t really notice any terrible voice acting or accents.

My main complaint with the game would be the difficulty spikes in the later levels. It’s not much fun when an enemy picks you up and crushes you instantly, forcing you to restart the entire level. It’s somewhat balanced out by the introduction of hilariously powerful spells in the later stages of the game, with one that instantly kills whatever it chooses to hit. There’s also a ton of powerful combinations that you will naturally learn over the course of the game that are ridiculously powerful, but enemies also gain immunity to certain elements as the game goes on.

I die if he touches me

I guess this wraps up all my thoughts on the game so far. I would like to try the multiplayer mode for it but it’s rather buggy at the moment and crashes me whenever I try to host a game, so no luck there. I’ll probably write another post if I manage to get multiplayer working, but even with just singleplayer it’s an amazing game. This is Arrowhead Game Studios’ first game, and it’s quite remarkable for a first effort.

I would recommend you buy the game, but you should probably wait until the bugs are fixed and maybe until Steam offers some kind of crazy 99% off deal or something.