Review by Ninjujitsu
"Set aside a dollar a day and on the tenth day buy this game."
Steam's always coming out with some new unheard of title. Many of which can be safely disregarded as painfully mediocre or simply poor knock-offs of better major-league titles. Then, every once in a while, holding a candle in the darkness of obscurity, comes a game like Magicka.
You know what I like a lot? Demos. Demos are like little gifts from the gaming industry. I think every game that is ever released should come with some form of demo. It's the same concept behind why artists put tracks on the radio. Give the consumer a taste of what you have to offer and promote yourself.
At the same time, you are at least giving players the opportunity to experience what you created. Better that than they just completely write the game off eternally because they're not willing to blow the money and risk not liking it. It also shows confidence in your title. If you know players won't dislike what they find in the demo and will crave more, why not release one?
It is precisely because Arrowhead/Paradox Interactive decided to offer a demo that they are ten dollars richer. The demo offers you the first level (or at least I think it does, I didn't make it to the end without stopping to buy it.) The level is fairly long so it gives you plenty of time to explore the game.
Oh but deary me, I haven't even mentioned anything about the game yet! Well magicka is a dynamic true real-time combat action/adventure game set in a very stereotypical fantasy world. It's extremely fluid--something I absolutely love in a game--, unique, and just plain fun. The real point of the game is to kill everything in your path and make it to the end of the level. You play a wizard with eight elements at your disposal: Water, Healing, Shield, Ice, Fire, Lightning, Arcane, and Stone. These elements can be combined for different effects.
For example, combing fire and stone will yield a fireball. Arcane and ice will yield a freeze ray. I found that after a while it's pretty easy to discover all of the useful combination, and kind of wish there was more variety. However you definitely get sufficient bang for your buck. You also get larger spells which you cast by combining certain elements in an order designated by spell-books you'll pick up along the way. The game tends to tip towards unbalanced as with no mana you'll have no excuse to spam the stronger of these spells, but I find myself combining spells anyways because I enjoy it so much. Besides, it's easier to bring down the wrath of God upon the unholy if you freeze them in place by wetting them and then casting a level 5 ice on them.
If you're a gauntlet fan, you'll probably enjoy this one. You don't level up, there are no stats, no gold, no shops, but you do find different weapons and the whole point of the game is to kill in the most fun way imaginable. Fans of side scrolling beat-em-ups ala Streets of Rage et al and hack-and-slash titles like Devil May Cry should also feel at home because of this. There is a definite lack of features and depth, but again, look at the price tag. This isn't a big-name title, so try not to expect it to match up to those titans. It does, however, certainly hold its own and is well worth the price.
One of the best features is the co-op. There simply aren't enough co-op games out there. If you own Trine and enjoyed playing beside friends, you'll want to pick this one up. Beam spells can be crossed into stronger beams, but only if they are not opposite elements. Crossing elements of opposite nature i.e. water and fire will result in disaster as the game warns you with "don't cross the beams." Your healing is also more effective on allies, although this is debatable because the rate of casting on yourself is much faster than the speed which the heal-beam heals. However, you can potentially go on forever if you have a 2nd player's help thanks to the Revive spell. If you die, your ally can bring you back, and co-op opens a whole new world of tactics involving the Shield spell.
The story is not at all the point of the game. However, gamers will find some quite humorous references from Lord of the Rings to the Diablo series to current memes. The game does not at all take itself seriously, which in itself is also very appealing. If you're looking for a dark, serious, unique world involving exploration and strategy you might want to search elsewhere. This is a visceral game in almost every capacity. Laughter and making things explode is the gist of it.
Really, you have no reason to not purchase this game. It's cheap, and extremely fun. If you have friends, I would buy it immediately. If you do not, you still have online play. If the review didn't convince you, go download the demo like I did. You'll thank me.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/31/11
Game Release: Magicka (US, 01/25/11)
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