Magicka


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Magicka

JohnBBest of Casual Gameplay 2011It's more than an action game meeting a role playing game. It's more than an amazing co-op experience. It's more than a collection of hilarious dialogue and geek culture references. It's Magicka, and it's the next game that will claim hours of your life. From Arrowhead Game Studios comes a hybrid title that emphasizes teamwork, alchemy-like spellcasting, and gaining an invincible knowledge of how elements work in relation to each other and the environment. Oh, and there are moose. Lots of moose.

MagickaMagicka starts out innocently enough as you, a wizard in training, move through the academy and learn to combine basic elements to create powerful spells. These spells have an affect on the environment, such as lightning powering machines, water dousing fires, and ice freezing pools of water. The game even goes so far as to prevent you from using lightning spells while you're wet. How do you dry off? By casting fire on yourself! Even more importantly, though, is the fact that these elements interact with each other, allowing you to combine elements to create powerful spells with a massive variety of effects.

Spells work using a simple combination of eight elements, each tied to a single key on the keyboard. Pressing [R], for example, adds an ice element to your queue. At this point you have several options at your disposal. For starters, you can spray a blast of icy death from your staff. You can also enchant your sword to gain a temporary freezing stab. Or, why not cast ice on yourself, see what happens? And if you want a stronger, bigger blast of coldness, add up to five ice elements to your casting queue and let the freeze fly!

But why press one button when you have eight at your disposal? Mixing elements is how you play Magicka, and that's where the genius of the game rests. Mix that ice element with an arcane element and suddenly you've got a wide beam that travels across the screen. Mix it with the shield element and you'll summon an ice wall for protection. See how complex and cool this gets? Now picture this: Magicka allows you to craft spells from eight elements (water, life, shield, ice, lightning, arcane, earth, fire), adding as many as five per concoction. You could literally just stand in the forest and mix elements for hours! And enjoy doing it!

MagickaNot every elemental combination produces interesting or different results, of course, but some elements have unique interactions that make brand new elements. Combine fire and water and you've got steam. Combine steam with arcane and you've got a strong steam blast. Experimenting with spells is your key to mastering Magicka (or, more accurately, actually making it past the third chapter), and it will take some time before you hit your stride. Stick to a few spells at first, anything you can quickly remember and key in, then expand your arsenal to use more creative, effective spells as time goes by.

Magicka is focused more on action and combat than traditional RPG components, so you'll spend time fighting off waves of smart enemies instead of walking through maze-like dungeons. There are, however, some items to find, such as spellbooks that teach you new magicks to cast (thunderbolt, anyone?), and you'll also find the occasional new sword or staff that comes with its own unique set of abilities. There's no inventory system (which some characters in the game jestfully point out), so you can only carry one of each item at a time. Magicka doesn't suffer from a lack of item management, however, as it's all about the co-op combat action.

Analysis: Magicka is well-written, quick to draw you in, laugh out loud fun to play with your friends, and just plain amazing. While it's more than competent as a single player experience, the real entertainment begins when you get a friend or three to join. Spellcasting isn't an exact science, and you'll find you zap, burn, fry, blast, and destroy your teammates almost as often as you vanquish deadly foes. That's cool, though, as it's all a part of the game! Reviving a fallen buddy is just three keystrokes away, and there's never any hard feelings. It's all a part of being a wizard.

MagickaAnd the humor. Oh, the humor. Magicka is easily one of the most laugh-inducing games I've played in months, right up there with Psychonauts. The dialogue is brilliant, filled with in-jokes only those well-versed in geekdom will understand. Expect references to just about every major sci-fi series or video game release in the last few decades, including but most certainly not limited to Star Wars, Star Trek, 300, Final Fantasy, Back to the Future, Highlander, Harry Potter, StarCraft, and, well, yeah, you get it. You'll feel like you're playing a game that was made by you, for you. Which is yet another reason why Magicka is so utterly brilliant.

Now for the down side: glitches. Magicka's release was plagued with problems, including random game crashes, self-deleting save files, network connection errors, and so on. The team at Arrowhead Game Studios has been working diligently to squash every bug that's appeared, and they've been remarkably communicative with the Magicka community. Now, a few weeks after the initial release, the game is much more stable, but you'll still run into a problem or two from time to time. Despite this, however, Magicka is still a must-buy title. Even if you have a problem with the game, chances are one of the frequent patches will fix it right up within a few days.

Magicka is exactly the game you want to play. It's so well-crafted that it pulls you in right away, yet it will be hours before you feel like you've scratched the surface of the intricate elemental spellcasting system. The co-op action is such a riot, the humor never lets up, and the game will keep you occupied for six or so hours for just one run-through (though you'll want to do many more). The shortcomings are few and decrease in number just about every day, so don't hesitate to pick this inexpensive game up immediately. You'll thank yourself later with all the laughing, spellcasting, and co-op gaming you'll experience time and time again!

P.S. Vlad is not a vampire. Seriously!

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo (available through Steam)
Get the full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Not available.
Try Boot Camp or Parallels or CrossOver Games.

Walkthrough Guide


(Please allow page to fully load for spoiler tags to be functional.)

Magicka Spells and Tactics

  • Casting Styles

    • Normal Casting (Right Click by default). Simply casts the spell, usually towards the mouse in a staight line. In the case of shields it will create a hemispherical shield covering your front. The most common type of casting you'll do.

    • Area Casting (Shift+Right Click by default). Hits the area around you, damaging anything nearby. Very useful if you're being swarmed by enemies. Shields will create a full shield around you.

    • Self Casting (Middle Mouse by default). Casts on yourself. Most useful for healing (with life), self shielding, and putting out fires/drying off. Watch out, as casting damaging spells on yourself will hurt.

    • Weapon Enchanting (Shift+Left Click by default). This is less well highlighted in the tutorial. Charge some elements, then press the weapon attack button. You'll charge your weapon with those elements, and it will glow with the associated colours. Then attack again to release the elements. Very short ranged compared to normal casting, and not as good for crowd control as area casting, but can be quite powerful against single/few enemies in your face.

  • Elements

    • Life: Incompatible with Arcane. Cast type: Beams. Very useful, obviously. In single player you'll use it almost exlusively to cast on yourself to heal, but in multiplayer you can combine with other spells to heal other players at range.

    • Arcane: Incompatible with Life. Cast type: Beams. Creates powerful but non-elemental spells, so useful as a general weapon if you don't know what to cast on an enemy for maximum damage. Beams are most useful at long range against single/few targets. Watch out for enemies exploding at close range.

    • Water: Incompatible with Lightning. Cast type: Spray. Does little damage on its own against most enemies, mainly useful in combination with other elements (notably lightning). Has a practical use, casting on yourself when on fire will put it out. Watch out when you are dripping wet, as casting lightning will damage you.

    • Lightning: Incompatible with Water and Rock. Cast type: Arcing. Fairly powerful on its own, and very easy to aim. Used in some very useful combinations. Don't cast when you're wet (visibly dripping).

    • Rock: Incompatible with Lightning. Cast type: Projectiles. Rock based spells are the best for hitting groups of enemies at range. Once you learn how to judge how long to charge it for distance, you can be quite accurate too. Watch out, if you cast at minimum charging time, it may land close too you and hit you with splash damage.

    • Shield: Cast type: Shield. Very useful for stopping hordes of enemies to give yourself some breathing room. Note that some elemental shield will damage enemies passing through them, but not actually stop them. Cast just Shield on yourself to get a personal shield which acts as a life bar extension. Note it can be refilled with healing spells. You'll want to maintain that most of the time especially further into the game.

    • Fire: Incompatible with cold. Cast type: Spray. Fairly useful. Sets enemies on fire and causes damage over time. If you're wet you can dry off by casting it on yourself, allowing you to cast lightning again.

    • Cold: Incompatible with Fire. Cast type: Spray. Reasonably useful, for its ability to slow/freeze enemies, giving you time to blast them with other magic. Generally you'll want to combine it with other cast types to freeze enemies slightly further away from you.

  • Combining Spells

    • Determining what cast type a given combination will be. Very generally speaking, there is an order of priority among the cast types of the elements, and a spell made of many elements will generally be of the type with the highest priority. The order is: Shield, Projectile, Beam, Arcing, Spray. For example, any spell with a shield element in it will always manifest as a shield effect, and most things combined with rock produce a modified rock projectile (e.g. fire + rock = fireball).

    • There are certain advanced elements that can be created by casting two elements which then combine into a new element. These can be useful for more advanced combinations. They act like elements, and take up only one slot in casting. Generally they combine properites and behaviours of their constituent elements.

    • Ice. Made from Water and Cold. Incompatible with Fire. Cast type: Small Projectiles. Generally does not freeze without pure Cold present, and does not wet either. Will melt into water if fire is added.

    • Steam. Made from Water and Fire. Incomaptible with Cold. Cast type: Spray. Acts mostly like water, except it has the advantage of being compatible with lightning directly, allowing for powerful combinations not possible with water. Will condense into water if cold is added.

    • Anything wet (visibly dripping) will take extra damage from lightning spells. So, a good tactic can be to wet a group of enemies with water or steam (for example water + rock to cast a water ball), and them hit them with lightning or lightning based spells.

    • Simply stacking the same elements in a spell will usually just cause damage to increase without changing the effects, so if you have the time it's usually ideal to put in 5 elements if you can.

  • Powerful Combinations

  • This list is by no means comprehensive, but should get you started. If you've got a good tip, post it in the comments.

    • Arcane+Steam+Steam+Lightning+Lightning or any variant combining arcane, lightning, and steam. This is the most powerful spell for dealing damage to a single target I have found. It works because the steam and lightning combination gets the "electrocute wet enemies" damage bonus, and the beam focuses it onto a single enemy. Even against groups of weaker enemies it's still useful, as long as they are far away, as it will rip through them quickly.

    • Arcane+Shield. This creates a set of magic landmines, which explode when anything (including you) steps on them. They do a lot of damage in a large area, and send enemies flying quite far. Useful both for laying traps and in the middle of combat, as you can drop them anywhere and enemies will inevitably step on them. I don't recomend area casting, as you'll then be surrounded by mines with no way to move.

    • Shield+Rock+Fire/Arcane. This creates a large barrier stopping enemies from approaching you, as well as damaging them when they're close to it. Very useful for delaying enemies for a while.

Thanks to Max for the Strategy Guide

11 Comments

An absolute gem, well worth the money. Not-vampires? Check. Goblins mooning you? Check. Death rays? Check. Asplosions? What flavour do you want them in?

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The magic system is awesome, with many possible combinations; the combat is extremely fun, especially when you accidentally kill your team-mates; the dialogs are hilarious. It's undoubtedly the best game I've played for quite some time, for me it's the game of the year.

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Never mentioned in the game is that you can mix Fire and Water to make Steam, and Cold and Water to make Ice.

These are required to produce some of the larger spells, and also to produce the single most unbelievably OP attack in the game, the dreaded Steam Electric Beam.

Steam-Elec-Elec-Elec-Arcane. The Steam wets its targets and the Electricity reacts to that wetness, vaporizing even most bosses in seconds, if that long. Arcane, obviously, puts it into Beam format.

(Also, if you are EVER having serious difficulty with bosses, consider that Nullify (shield-arcane) is a blisterly OP spell that will instantly destroy all shields, buffs, summoned constructs etc etc etc.

(The last boss can be easily defeated by quickly casting Nullify as soon as he does ANYTHING.)

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I'm glad to see JIG's review of this title, after reading others and actually playing the game.

I absolutely loved the game (I beat the game - though still going for various achievements and such). I was initially in some doubt, but after playing the demo through a number of times I was convinced. This is by far one of the best games I've played in a while - not to mention the price is great.

Even though I only get a number of the references (no where nearly all of them - I had to use 'Magickapedia' to explain the rest), I still found this game very funny.

Finally, I really enjoyed certain levels which were really innovative and made you remap your key bindings (meaning your natural instinctive spells) for more thought based casting, such as 9 & 10 (especially 10 with the elementals).

Even though I've played through the whole game (single-player), there still feels like a lot to do - and even stuff I don't get (such as why some seem to be able to change up their characters' looks pre-chapter). And of course co-op is just hilariously fun.

I highly recommend this game.

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I consider buying it. One question: Do you have to buy the game twice (Non-Steam Version), to be able to play it Coop on LAN?

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This game is fantastic.

Surferjack:
I don't know about LAN, but if you've got gamepads, you can play with 2-4 people on one computer.

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DO NOT BUY THIS GAME IF YOU ONLY USE A LAPTOP!

The game does not work on most laptops, a fact already confirmed by the developers. If you are uncertain or don't believe me, google this issue and save yourself the 10$ you'd waste otherwise. There are threads up on the game's Steam forum, and the devs have chimed in.

Additionally, compatibility for laptops is low-priority when compared to more content, so don't buy it in the hopes of a quick fix. If your only platform is a laptop and you REALLY still want the game, google the issue every few week to see if the devs have done anything about it.

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Im playing as steam user adrasmu

add me if you need someone to play with.

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I wish they'd patch the thing with a "single-player" difficulty setting in which it is actually possible to play past Chapter II without an squad of helpers. Not being outnumbered 20-to-one might be nice once in a while, and it doesn't seem like it would have been much trouble to implement that as a choice. Jeez.

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Realy? I have gotten to level six playing alone. It's all about finding the right spells that suit you. One good way its using sheild and rock on yourself. You will be encased in a giant boulder and can cast a longer spell.

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Magicka Spells and Tactics

  • Casting Styles

    • Normal Casting (Right Click by default). Simply casts the spell, usually towards the mouse in a staight line. In the case of shields it will create a hemispherical shield covering your front. The most common type of casting you'll do.

    • Area Casting (Shift+Right Click by default). Hits the area around you, damaging anything nearby. Very useful if you're being swarmed by enemies. Shields will create a full shield around you.

    • Self Casting (Middle Mouse by default). Casts on yourself. Most useful for healing (with life), self shielding, and putting out fires/drying off. Watch out, as casting damaging spells on yourself will hurt.

    • Weapon Enchanting (Shift+Left Click by default). This is less well highlighted in the tutorial. Charge some elements, then press the weapon attack button. You'll charge your weapon with those elements, and it will glow with the associated colours. Then attack again to release the elements. Very short ranged compared to normal casting, and not as good for crowd control as area casting, but can be quite powerful against single/few enemies in your face.

  • Elements

    • Life: Incompatible with Arcane. Cast type: Beams. Very useful, obviously. In single player you'll use it almost exlusively to cast on yourself to heal, but in multiplayer you can combine with other spells to heal other players at range.

    • Arcane: Incompatible with Life. Cast type: Beams. Creates powerful but non-elemental spells, so useful as a general weapon if you don't know what to cast on an enemy for maximum damage. Beams are most useful at long range against single/few targets. Watch out for enemies exploding at close range.

    • Water: Incompatible with Lightning. Cast type: Spray. Does little damage on its own against most enemies, mainly useful in combination with other elements (notably lightning). Has a practical use, casting on yourself when on fire will put it out. Watch out when you are dripping wet, as casting lightning will damage you.

    • Lightning: Incompatible with Water and Rock. Cast type: Arcing. Fairly powerful on its own, and very easy to aim. Used in some very useful combinations. Don't cast when you're wet (visibly dripping).

    • Rock: Incompatible with Lightning. Cast type: Projectiles. Rock based spells are the best for hitting groups of enemies at range. Once you learn how to judge how long to charge it for distance, you can be quite accurate too. Watch out, if you cast at minimum charging time, it may land close too you and hit you with splash damage.

    • Shield: Cast type: Shield. Very useful for stopping hordes of enemies to give yourself some breathing room. Note that some elemental shield will damage enemies passing through them, but not actually stop them. Cast just Shield on yourself to get a personal shield which acts as a life bar extension. Note it can be refilled with healing spells. You'll want to maintain that most of the time especially further into the game.

    • Fire: Incompatible with cold. Cast type: Spray. Fairly useful. Sets enemies on fire and causes damage over time. If you're wet you can dry off by casting it on yourself, allowing you to cast lightning again.

    • Cold: Incompatible with Fire. Cast type: Spray. Reasonably useful, for its ability to slow/freeze enemies, giving you time to blast them with other magic. Generally you'll want to combine it with other cast types to freeze enemies slightly further away from you.

  • Combining Spells

    • Determining what cast type a given combination will be. Very generally speaking, there is an order of priority among the cast types of the elements, and a spell made of many elements will generally be of the type with the highest priority. The order is: Shield, Projectile, Beam, Arcing, Spray. For example, any spell with a shield element in it will always manifest as a shield effect, and most things combined with rock produce a modified rock projectile (e.g. fire + rock = fireball).

    • There are certain advanced elements that can be created by casting two elements which then combine into a new element. These can be useful for more advanced combinations. They act like elements, and take up only one slot in casting. Generally they combine properites and behaviours of their constituent elements.

    • Ice. Made from Water and Cold. Incompatible with Fire. Cast type: Small Projectiles. Generally does not freeze without pure Cold present, and does not wet either. Will melt into water if fire is added.

    • Steam. Made from Water and Fire. Incomaptible with Cold. Cast type: Spray. Acts mostly like water, except it has the advantage of being compatible with lightning directly, allowing for powerful combinations not possible with water. Will condense into water if cold is added.

    • Anything wet (visibly dripping) will take extra damage from lightning spells. So, a good tactic can be to wet a group of enemies with water or steam (for example water + rock to cast a water ball), and them hit them with lightning or lightning based spells.

    • Simply stacking the same elements in a spell will usually just cause damage to increase without changing the effects, so if you have the time it's usually ideal to put in 5 elements if you can.

  • Powerful Combinations

  • This list is by no means comprehensive, but should get you started. If you've got a good tip, post it in the comments.

    • Arcane+Steam+Steam+Lightning+Lightning or any variant combining arcane, lightning, and steam. This is the most powerful spell for dealing damage to a single target I have found. It works because the steam and lightning combination gets the "electrocute wet enemies" damage bonus, and the beam focuses it onto a single enemy. Even against groups of weaker enemies it's still useful, as long as they are far away, as it will rip through them quickly.

    • Arcane+Shield. This creates a set of magic landmines, which explode when anything (including you) steps on them. They do a lot of damage in a large area, and send enemies flying quite far. Useful both for laying traps and in the middle of combat, as you can drop them anywhere and enemies will inevitably step on them. I don't recomend area casting, as you'll then be surrounded by mines with no way to move.

    • Shield+Rock+Fire/Arcane. This creates a large barrier stopping enemies from approaching you, as well as damaging them when they're close to it. Very useful for delaying enemies for a while.

Thanks to Max for the Strategy Guide

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