Usually, fantasy-themed video games feature a number of different archetypes to play — archers, mages, brute force warriors, etc. “Magicka,” a $10 downloadable PC game, strictly focuses on the class of the wizard and the aspect of spell-casting. While this might seem derivative and unoriginal as a concept, the “Magicka” combat system makes the game feel novel and refreshing.

Magicka

PC
Arrowhead

“Magicka” puts the player in the role of a wizard and provides different elements that the player can combine to make spells. These elements — relegated to the left side of the QWERTY keyboard — can be combined in all sorts of ways. For example, combining rock and fire creates a fireball. Combining rock, freeze and shield will create a half circle of rocks that sprout up to shield the player and freezes any enemy that comes in contact with them. When going off the beaten path, players will often find “spell books” that give information about more advanced spells, like the ability to create a blizzard or temporarily slow down time. Players can also find different staffs and swords that augment various magical properties, like becoming resistant to ice damage or increasing electricity damage.

Aside from a basic tutorial, there’s very little guidance or hints about what elements will combine into what, so the game encourages experimentation and creativity to be successful. Discovering new effective spell combos against enemies is rewarding. Creativity is required in later stages of game, as the difficulty ramps up rapidly as the levels progress. Some parts seem almost impossible until figuring out a correct strategy of spells to cast. The best spells often require four or five inputs of elements at once, meaning quick reflexes are key to victory as well.

Story-wise, “Magicka” is a lighthearted satire on the fantasy narrative. It’s the standard affair of saving the world from evil, but the game is aware of this. The dialogue is tongue-in-cheek and funny in itself, but equally funny is how everyone talks in a ridiculous-sounding foreign language that resembles Swedish but clearly isn’t. The camera is pitted from an isometric perspective, meaning the player has an overhead view of his character and enemies on the battlefield. The graphics and sound effects are cartoonish and not especially impressive, but they fit the tone and get the job done for a $10 game.

“Magicka” is a fairly lengthy game, consisting of 13 “chapters,” or levels — each one taking usually anywhere from 30 minutes to over an hour, depending on how difficult the situation is in each chapter. The play can get fairly monotonous at times however, as facing wave after wave of goblins can get tiresome. There is also an online co-op for up to four players, which can be a lot of fun and reduces the difficulty significantly. Unfortunately, connecting to other players can be a finicky and unreliable process. There’s also an arena mode to fight off multiple waves of enemies, for those who want an even greater challenge than the single player campaign.

It can be tedious at times, and it would be nice for the game to give a little more guidance in combining spells due the relatively difficult gameplay. But for those who don’t mind a challenge and are looking for something different in their game playing experience, “Magicka” is a nice way to spend a Hamilton.

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