Set in the city of Midgård, Magicka places you in the middle of fantasy land that is wrought with evil you must fight. Your goal in this game is to reach the capitol city of Havindr, and to support the king in the fight.
The game introduces you to the controls very well. In the tutorial, filled with the humorous but derpy dialogue, you learn the controls for the game, which consist of keyboard commands to mix various elements, and a click and follow method of moving the character around. There is an option to skip the tutorial if you are one of those people that just starts a game. You are able to mix and match up to five spells at a time, however the downside is that with a full spell bar, your character is significantly slower than without any spells. Your character also moves at a slower rate if he has an elemental shield casted on himself.
The gameplay itself is basically an action and tactic based game, where you are forced to fight enemies by mixing together various elements to create spells that are advantageous to your specific fight. Whether it be creating rain so you can electrocute your enemies, or combining arcane and fire to create a beam, you have to utilize your resources in such a way that helps you. There are also quite a few utility spells you can cast for defense, such as health landmines that will any character, enemies included, in the blast radius. In order to keep people from using the same spells the entire time, the developers of the game made it so in some situations, using spells would not only be useless, but counterproductive to your objective (such as water healing certain enemies instead of hurting them). This keeps you thinking about your actions rather than just mindlessly spamming an element.
The camera views are top down with a third person view. This allows for a much wider view of the area you are moving in, and prepares you to confront the enemies you are going to face in advance. Visually, the graphics are similar to what you see in Crystal Chronicles or Ocarina of Time, which is a coincidental comparison since you have a fairy like Navi aiding (with consistently useless advice just as well) you in Magicka too. The camera centers on your character though, preventing you from scrolling the map to see upcoming terrain.
There are also a number of different modes you can complete, including challenge, versus and online play. The online play allows for some fun multiplayer, but the great part is that multiplayer is not restricted to only online play. If you have the resources, you can hook up an Xbox 360 or PS3 controller to allow for local multiplayer. Mixing spells on a remote control though is a bit more tedious, seeing as how you use the right stick to select spells, as compared to just the QWER and ASDF keys on the keyboard. In multiplayer you can either play alongside a partner in the various levels, or you can battle against each other to see who can rack up the most kills.
Some irksome aspects:
Looking at areas of improvement, the game seemed to have a number of glitches during the gameplay. Specifically, multiplayer could use some work. Only occasionally could you actually heal your partner or yourself (if you were player two), which made the job of player one a lot more difficult to do. You also can’t change around the controls. Whether it be self-casting by the mouse or the locations of the spells on the keyboard, you are forced to stick to using the locations of the commands as the developers intended them. While this critique is a bit nitpicky, it would be nice to allow for this customization.
On the whole though, this is a great PC game. The game has a huge number of possible spells and actions to take in each particular situation, which keeps the game exciting the entire time. Although multiplayer could use a couple tweaks, it still allows for a great gaming experience. For $10, this game alone is a great buy. While I haven’t played the game with any downloadable content, you can buy the entire package with the game for only $25. The developers definitely deserve kudos for their unique design.