Monday, July 4, 2011

PC: Magicka review

I suppose I should write a little bit about my impressions with one of the newly acquired games, Magicka. Notice that’s an additional K there, for reasons beyond my comprehension.
The thing is; It’s pretty hard to say something entirely bad about this game. And it’s just as hard (for me, at least) to say something good. I’ll be honest and admit that this was a game that pretty quickly was added to my list of “Oh-oh-all-the-other-cool-guys-are-hyping-this-crap-but-I-refuse!”. A lot of people were telling me to invest in this game once it got out and prices were therefore also a bit higher. Not that Magicka ever was an expensive game in any way, I am just saying that I’m actually glad that I didn’t pay its original price.
So I suppose I should thank the “Steam Summer Sale” for doing me such a huge favor, with an extremely cheap offer that I honestly couldn’t refuse. I must admit that I’ve been curious about this game, ever since I saw TotalHalibut play it on youtube. I loved the idea about combining the elements, which was likely the reason I gave in. That, and because I’m a cheapskate.

My main fear for Magicka was that the game would end up like “Black & White” did back in the days. For the unenlightened, B&W was pretty much founded on the principle of one really awesome idea (being a god) and then not much else. Magicka is also founded on one really awesome idea (you can combine your various eight elements into thousands of spells) and therefore risks falling into the same pit trap of fail; short living. I loved B&W for the first week and played it obsessively. Then things got extremely boring, as I couldn’t evade the feeling that after the first level I had pretty much seen the majority of what the game had to offer. I suppose I was wrong, but frankly I didn’t bother to find out. Picking up my puny worshippers and flinging them out into the horizon was fun, initially. Just as playing with your spells in Magicka is truly awesome, until you suddenly realize the fact that you can pretty much stick to four of five of them in single player and work your way through.
For this same reason, I was quite sure I’d seen almost everything there was to Magicka after the first couple of hours. What really makes this game work is the ability to constantly experiment with your elements (sadly the fifth isn’t Milla Jovovich but lightning, so you can’t really experiment with her, which would otherwise be a nice addition). I had a good time wading around with the occasional “NO WAIT! did I do that?”
Your basic premise is that you can fill up to five slots with any variety of elements, as long as they’re not opposing each other (as in, no fire and water together i.e.) which you can then decide to either use as a straightforward blast or beam, as AOE or simply on yourself. The game is pretty strict in this regard, also. If you try to use fire on yourself, you catch fire. Which is quite bad in Magicka. If you make a Life Ball, you AOE heal what’s in your way, and if you chain-lightning a mob of enemies, you’ll likely massacre the king’s royal guard who were, incidentally, locked in melee with them.

Luckily, Magicka doesn’t encourage you to take things like that seriously. In fact, it has an achievement for pushing an officer down a well. Unless you’re a bleeding idiot like me, and fall into it yourself. Truthfully, this game doesn’t take anything that seriously, least of all itself. We’re talking about an absolutely generic fantasy-setting in which the memes, jokes, references and puns are practically falling over themselves to make an appearance. At some times this works okay, and surely made me chuckle at the right times (compared to Duke Nukem Forever, this was like watching Monty Python). Of course, Monty Python and the Holy Grail makes sure to appear more or less as a boss fight, in which you fight a group of druids who make sure to shout “Shrubberyyyyy!!!” as they attack. Good stuff. You also get a great chance to kill the Highlander, and you will notice that the chapters are named after the Star Wars-movies. So it goes on, taking one shot at the RPG-genre after another (the game only has one side-quest and takes great pride in telling you so) as you venture forth and blast every living thing in your way.
Initially I actually got quite frustrated with this game, but it really opens up once you start mastering your spells. You can, of course, just load up with ‘Fire’ X 5 and burn everything in your way but this won’t be beneficial later on in the chapters. In some of the more challenging encounters you are encouraged to think about what approach you will take, and once you get used to it, everything goes a lot smoother.
Besides from that I don’t really have that much more to say about Magicka. To me it’s pretty much on the same level as Atomic Bomberman back in the day. You can play it alone, which will likely be okay but also make you thinking about all the other things you could do instead. You could hook up with some friends and play it in co-op, which would likely add a bit more fun to it (I must admit that I didn’t get around this, the game isn’t THAT good in my eyes). The enemy AI is downright stupid (I refer to conjured stonewalls which totally seem to fuck up the enemy every time they appear. They literally stood for ages, chopping at them while I blasted from the distance. Guess they really hate walls) so more intelligent opponents would be a blessing.
There isn’t much of a story to comment on. The music is bland, the graphics aren’t great (and likely not meant to be either) and the voicing is for the majority something that was likely once Norwegian, crossbred with a bit of American and whatever sounds people at the studio could make.
I don’t think I will return to this game. But neither will I hate it. It will stand nicely along with other games that had a good, but quick, career.  You might like it, but I wouldn’t go into it with too high expectations. Blasting enemies with crackling bolts of lightning and see them splatter across the screen never gets old. But once you’ve got the spell-system figured and had your fun with it, there really isn’t that much else to find here.
Verdict: 6/10

1 comment:

  1. You should really try it in Coop, it adds alot to the game :) And it's kinda fun lighting you friends on fire while you run around killing stuff :D