The easiest way to describe Magicka in one word is parody. That is indeed what the game aims very hard to be. It aspires to be one giant parody and joke about all of fantasy, and it pulls it off pretty well while at the same time being a decent amount of fun. Even with a few things holding it back, Magicka turns out to be a fun distraction.
Magicka takes place in a world based on Norse mythology, where you take control of a mage from a sacred order who has to work to defeat an evil sorcerer and his creations to save the world. Along the way you are helped by a man named Vlad, who vehemently insists he is not a vampire. The story of Magicka really isn’t worth paying attention to, and that’s not the point of this game anyway. Dialogue on the other hand is a major point of focus. Seeing as Magicka is a parody, its whole point is to be comedic. The game is rife with references from an achievement called Vanilla Ice, to the staff of the white wizard that you can pick up (which says it came from a wizard who used to be a different color). Magicka , most of the time, does a good job of making you laugh with its characters and conversation but once in a while you will encounter something that just comes across as stupid. Ultimately though, it is the humor and parodying that makes Magicka memorable.
While Magicka may look somewhat like an rpg, it really isn’t in the slightest. There is absolutely no character development and no mana bar that you have to manage, I would actually describe it as more of an action sort of game. You control your mage by clicking the left mouse button and dragging where you want to move. Magickas entire game play mechanic is base on control and use of 8 elements; water, fire, lightning, earth, cold, shield, arcane, life. Each of these elements is assigned to a certain key on the keyboard, and up to 5 can be queued up to be combined in any way that you choose. In addition as you progress through the game you find various spell books that teach you new spells you can use, these appear with the requirements below your character and can be scrolled through with the middle mouse button. You also have a melee weapon equipped that you can use by holding down shift and left clicking. This combat does turn out to be interesting for a while, but until you get really used to how to combine the elements it can get frustrating while trying to fend off hordes of enemies. Unfortunately, the controls also feel a bit clunky overall.
Magicka plays in what is called 2.5D, which is a 3D environment viewed from above, much like Diablo. The adventure is made up of 13 levels to play through, and there are various challenge missions to complete after that. While you can play these alone, really the best way to play Magicka is with three other people. Since every level can be played with four players, and actually feel like they should be, Magicka tends to only be fun with others. Unfortunately, in my experience it wasn’t very easy to hop into other peoples games or have anyone join me. This means that you will really only find substantial enjoyments in Magicka if you have three friends that also own the game. While this isn’t a deal breaker, it’s certainly something to take into consideration.
A cartoonish style is used for the look of Magicka, and it works pretty well for it. It’s certainly not amazing to look at, but the spell effects do look pretty nice. The thing that wasn’t good was a number of graphical glitches that I encountered no matter what settings I changed. It was never bad enough that I couldn’t play the game, but it was mildly annoying.
Music isn’t anything to really praise either, it’s just a backdrop for the game. Sound effects are pretty decent though, and characters voices sound ridiculous. Characters talk in a language that sounds something like Norse sim language, with the exception of Vlads narration sequences.
Magicka is a fun, straightforward, satirical game. The humor is genuinely funny most of the time and the look is at least unique. The fact that Magicka turns out to be real fun only as a multiplayer title is a mark against it, but when you get a game together it all turns out to be a fun experience. At only $10 its worth giving Magicka a try if it sounds like something that you may like.
*Parodox Interactive provided SlimGamer.com with a promo code for a review copy.