Magicka is like no other game I have ever played. The base game-play is two parts Diablo, one part parody, one part typing tutorial, and one part Castle-Crashers. The resulting mix is utterly insane, but totally awesome. The love put into this game is immediately clear: Look at that title screen; the corner is missing, you can see the outline from where it was. There is an axe mark in the top, which is there on all pages. The bubbles in the tea (or coffee), and the bits of the half-eaten sausage in the corner breath of a light breakfast. I almost feel like I could reach out and touch this, and it’s just the title, it’s up for half a second if not less.
IMPORTANT: The main key of this game is four player co-op game play. I don’t have four friends with this game, and even if I did, the network play is buggy as hell now. Its being fixed rapidly, but these screen shots are from single player.
The core gameplay is similar to Diablo; monsters come at you, you kill them, and you can’t really move the camera. You can pick up items, but there really is no inventory system; whatever weapon you pick up replaces the one you had, and you can only have one weapon and one staff. Weapons range in usefulness from amazing (such as, my personal favorite, the M60), to utterly worthless (Excalibur comes to mind, its stuck in the stone and as such is really slow. It has knock back, but so does most of your spells). The sheer variety of weapons astounds me, I am confident I haven’t even seen half of them. Generally once you find a good combo you don’t really change, but every once in a while you find something good enough that it is worth it.
Where this game really shines though, is in spell casting. There is only one character class, and its “mage”. You can change the colors of said mage, and decide if he wears a hat or a hood, but that’s all you can customize. There is no mana, no cool-downs, and no experience. To cast spells, you must combine 10 elements using the QWER, and ASDF keys, and then select if you want to cast in front of you, on your weapon, on yourself, or all around you. Once you unlock actual spells (like my personal favorite, lightning bolt), you have to memorize and hammer out complex combos and cast them with the space bar. This leads to incredibly hectic fights, where you are trying to cast spells faster than your opponents can stun-lock you. As if that wasn’t enough, the game is four-player co-op. And it has friendly fire, a LOT of friendly fire.
It’s nearly impossible in bigger games to cast a spell without hitting a team-mate. Even warning them rarely helps, as some spells flat-out target friends. If you have an ally who is actually a dick, you are screwed, there is no way to stop them other than to kill them first and not revive them. Combat near any form of cliff quickly turns into a scrambled mess, and its far more fun that way. There are even spells that encourage dickishness; I have yet to cast lightning storm without killing an ally (and indeed the game seems to think its impossible, there is an achievement to do it). There are spells that explode violently, there are spells that render spells around you useless, there are spells that turn you invisible, and there are spells that cause others to ignore you. I have yet to play a full four player game, but my god do I look forward to it.
There is a campaign mode, and it’s quite intense. The story is simple enough, but it’s surprisingly deep considering everything is a parody. The jokes get a little tiring after a while, but so far there is no portal joke so it’s all good. Unfortunately there is at least one section that is nothing but Monty Python jokes and as much as I love them, it gets old very fast. To add to how tiring that gets, this game loves to re-use jokes. One of the bosses’ name’s is Khan…you can imagine where that leads.
But what it all comes down to is, is this game worth buying. Its 9.99 right now on steam, and I am almost positive it will go on sale before long (it IS steam after all). I highly recommend you check it out, if nothing else there is a free demo and it was more than enough to convince me right then and there. This game may not be for everyone, but I will be damned if it wasn’t made with someone like me in mind.