Feb 4, 2011

Short Review: Magicka

Magicka is a low budget release available from Steam for €10. In it, you are thrown into a world of dungeons and dragons, orcs and goblins, ghouls and ghosts.. kings and.. oh sod it. A wonderful story of references of all kinds oldschool and retro.

This game finds itself in an odd place as far as the actual gameplay goes, being a refreshing mix of all things point and click adventure, hack and slash, and Monty Python. As you take on the role of a magician on a most heroic quest, you see whatever you do from a birds eye perspective far up in the sky much akin to action rpgs such as Diablo, Crusader, Gauntlet, and countless more. Nothing new there. The mission at hand is to save humanity as always (most imporantly, the mages), but in order to do so, things get more interesting. Instead of having a basic set of spells as you start, and learning more through experience or skill books discovered, instead you have access to 8 schools of magic to summon destruction from. This right here is the core, and genious of this game. The possibilities you have for mixing together fanciful spells of destruction, salvation, or a mix of both if you feel like it, are limitless.  Need to cross a lake? Cast several charges of frost over it and slide safely across. Need to .. surround yourself with healing landmines? Shield and life. Just like you can heal yourself or others with life magic, you can just as easily set yourself, your friends, or any npcs (even plot characters) on fire as well. If you want to heal someone and electrocute them at the same time in a single beam of wonderful magic, then you can do that too.

The game features a single player campaign, multi players doing the same campaign (doesnt work), or challenge levels single or multiplayer ( again, multiplayer doesnt work). I realize this is a crushing sentence over what stands for about 50% of the game's playability, but really, the multiplayer part of this game fails in OH so many ways. Wanna host a multiplayer game? Crash to desktop, or in the best case, manage to host, BUT to keep your lobby up you transfer more data out than NASA does on a busy week. You system is crippled completely trying to host a game. Want to join one? NO, or .. if you are lucky, accepted into a lobby, but then you get a black screen freeze while the game is launching. If you are one of the very few that actually got into a game, and have played it, then hit yourself with a hammer. You should have played the lottery instead and you'd be a rich man. This is SUCH A SHAME. Man, I would give a leg to play this with 3 other mages firing beams of destruction, landmines, fireballing npcs, zapping themselves.. I really am gutted that I can't, because it became apparent right from the tutorial level that this is a frickin awesome concept! You really feel allmighty, or.. death incarnate, as youre playing this baby in the single player modes.

The game is presented in modest 3d top-down graphics. I have to say, considering how basic the graphics are, I am very surprised this game doesnt support netbooks or most integrated laptop graphic cards. You need, for reasons I dont understand, a fairly strong, current generation graphics card to play this game. You won't even be able to launch it on a netbook or most laptop, devs have even warned about trying, its not meant to be.  This game looks like something you'd expect from a indie developer 5 years ago, but it sure doesn't play like it. This kind of system requirement is a big let down, it makes no sense this shouldn't be able to play on most all current or last gen computers.

The sound work however has a lot of charm. Listening to the npc's talk almost makes me want to forgive its other violations with most of the wizards you talk to speaking what seems to be a language mixed of english, swedish, norwegian, probably other languages I dont know, and random gibberish words. You'll love talking to the NPC's from the first moment in the tutorial when you are told "We redan started the dunkadunka" (We already started the party). Supporting the wonderful voice work is non impressive ambient sounds and fairly non inspiring music (with one or two highlights), however.

Another big selling point of this game is all the references made absolutely all the time to old classic games and movies. If you've been around a while, you will spot a reference of some sort every minute at least and feel giddy about it, its guaranteed. From the King's Quest steam achievement that I wont spoil further, through exploring locked doors, to all the other references thrown about at every bend of the road, you will be amused.

I am very torn in my opinion about this game. It is a truly wonderful concept that shows it works wonderfully as you play through the missions in single player. The game does however suffer from such a number of gameplay bugs and poor performance, and especially nightmarish online performance, that it greatly reduces my enjoyment. I will say this: If you have a great computer and used to love games like Gauntlet, or Diablo, but dont mind a slightly more strategic approact, this game is well worth your €10 regardless of the limited online playability. For the rest, I think there is a demo available on Steam, try that and see if it plays okay on your computer. If it does, then YES, get it! Again, even if you cant in its current state play this reliably online, you WILL have fun with it, easily worth the €10 price tag.


- Very creative system for spellcasting.
- Seemlingly endless references and black humour

- Terrible game engine, despite looking like something you'd expect 10 years ago, this game wont run well except on current generation graphics cards.
- Terrible netcode, even after more testing after the most recent patches aimed at improving online play.


Anonymous said...

Hi :)

Which are the very best as well as most played mmorpg and also rpg games of the year 2010 and may be played for 2011?
If it is possible inform me the amount of people play in mmorpg's plus in case of rpg's tell methe system spec and some web-site where there is stats of these games may be specified(same applies to mmorpg to).

Thank you !

Vads said...

For MMORPG's we have World of Warcraft of course which will be around for a long time still for sure. Another promising game coming out soon is Rift, which plays a lot like WoW but has got very good feedback from beta testing.

RPG's in general I think the biggest names of 2010 were Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age: Origins. Both great games.

Other than that I'm afraid you will have to do your own research ;)