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Magicka Review

Abracadabra


Review by Darren Cartledge
Published 9th February 2011

Magicka

  • Developer: Arrowhead Game Studios
  • Publisher: Paradox Interactive
  • Release Date: 25th January 2011

If I'm honest before I got my copy of Magicka for review it was a title that I had paid little attention to and didnn't really expect much from. So despite it having some problems, it was a nice surprise when it actually turned out to be quite good.

Set in the fantasy world of Midgård, the capital city of Hávindr is under attack. You take up the role of a wizard, studying under the Wizards of the Order of Magick. Who send you out from the comfortable surroundings of the Orders castle in a quest to find out what’s going on in Hávindr and to save the besieged city.

Magicka is probably best described as a fantasy adventure game, in which Goblins, Trolls and other nasties are hell-bent on terrorising the inhabitants of the mythical world and it’s up to you to come to their rescue and the game provides plenty of weapons for you to do this with, most of which are found in hidden locations within the game world. This melee action is basic to say the least with only a few bashes required to fend off most bad guys. Most melee weapons in the game also have unique attributes but these effects for the most part are hardly noticed. But this doesn’t mean it’s bad it just so easy to overlook due to Magicka’s excellent spell system.

In Magicka you are able to summon eight elemental powers (fire, water, cold, arcane, earth, heal, lightening and shield) which you can use to neutralise any pesky enemies that have set their sights on spilling your guts. But what makes this elemental power system so good is the fact that you combine these elements together to make ever more powerful spells allowing you to fight against overwhelming odds. You combine up to five of these elements at anyone time to make your spells, however some don’t go together whatsoever, lightening and water is not a good mix. This allows you to create a range of powerful attacks and defences, for instance combining shield and earth elements cause rocks to shoot up from the ground to protect you. Combine earth with fire and you can shoot flaming meteorite-style rocks at the bad guys and so on. To push things a little further there are a number of spells that can be found around the world of Midgård during play allowing you to create effects such as rain, grease and so on.

Away from all that though, Magicka can seem a little basic when you first start playing. It’s isometric camera angle, simple but charming graphics and rather unchallenging enemies all this can trick you into a false feeling of complacency, something that is quickly dashed as you progress and come up against massive hordes of enemies and new formidable foes that you must face in the later stages of the game. There is a small element of exploration to the game, with various routes and hidden areas for you to explore and discover. But as enjoyable as the game can be, it does also provide its fair share of frustration.

Checkpoints in Magicka are few and far between so when inevitably you die you’ll have to replay large portions of the game over again, and I mean large portions. Whilst this does stretch the game out somewhat it is annoying especially when you consider that some skirmishes between you and the goblin marauders are tough to get past, even more so when you consider that you face the same number of enemies whether you are playing by yourself or with co-op partners. This of course means the challenge on offer in Magicka is much more considerable when playing by yourself and it does seem that development has been geared more towards co-op play.

Magicka though isn’t just about the story mode and away from the main campaign there’s the Challenge Mode. This mode too supports co-op or solo play and sees you having to survive against ever increasing numbers of enemies who once vanquished leave spells for you to pick up giving you access to more powers giving you new ways to fight against ever increasing odds.

Magicka may have its problems such as certain areas being overlooked, but it does undoubtedly provide an enjoyable experience. Mainly due to its interesting spell system, just proving that not all good games are hyped up months before they arrive.

Review Score: 7.5/10

Please note, this review was scored using our old system. For more information please see our review policy.

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