Magicka was one of the first games of the year, and is first on our list. Released in January by small indie team Paradox Interactive, the game was originally broken as hell. Anyone who bought it in its first few weeks of life would have played a bug-filled mess of a game. Luckily for us, we didn’t buy it until a few months later when everything had been ironed out. Featuring 4-player co-op, its an isometric action game, injected with humour and the best spell-casting system we’ve ever seen in a game.
I was instantly captivated by Magicka. Its simple tale of saving a magical kingdom from some evil or other is full of pop-culture gags and cheesy puns, I couldn’t help feeling charmed by its silly world. Paradox are only a small team and I was really impressed with the combat system they had come up with. You are a wizard, and aside from some various swords (and yes, sometimes guns…) you pick up as side arms, the main weapon at your disposal are your spells. They come in 8 elemental flavours – fire, water, ice, ground, electric, healing, arcane and a shield – and you can combine any one with any other and the game will figure out the rest. Want a fireball? Simply merge fire with ground and hurl it at your enemies. How about a beam of arcane lightning? A circle of protective healing bombs? A harmless cloud of steam? All of these and virtually anything else you can think to combine is possible in this game, and you can even apply them to your weapons to enchant them. Its no wonder the game was so horribly broken when it came out, because this is one of those deceivingly complicated games that wasn’t afraid to be a bit ambitious. After a shaky start, Magicka showed how good it can be, and then they made a hilarious Vietnam expansion. Please Paradox, make a new game. I can’t wait to see what you come up with next.
Paradox Interactive are a Swedish based games studio who have poured their heart and soul into some incredibly complex, medieval, political, economic, territorial, and most importantly, grown-up and serious strategy games, such as Europa Universalis. The intense level of maturity, complexity and patience needed in such a game, however, is what makes Magicka that much more amazing to behold. A game that basically throws all of modern expectations of a 3D RPG style game out the window, and says ‘We want spells! Massive spells! Nothing more, nothing less!’ and successfully delivers on it’s own demands. It couldn’t be farther or more opposite to the standards of their grown-up strategy games that involve doing a thousand things at once, and gives you just two things to do at once, hundreds of spells to destroy your enemies, and hundreds of spells to destroy your friends – because frankly, thats what it all boils down to when you’re in the middle of a chaotic battle with dozens of orcs, mages, walking trees, trolls, werewolves and more; complete and utter death.
Not only are there 8 separate core spells you can combine with each other to make your favourite moves, there are also spell tomes, which contain huge, ultra destructive spells that can require a huge combination of your core spells at once. The results are absolutely devastating, and usually hilarious, too. More often than not, your mega lightning strike spell will accidentally explode your friend instead of that giant ogre you were actually trying to aim for, because really, why allow the players to kill the enemy when you can make them kill each other by mistake, over and over and over again! Along with the endless homages to all the best things ever made that are littered around the entire game, this is where Magicka’s chuckle-worthy humor resides for me, and hearing my friends screaming ‘FOR F***S SAKE, PAUL!’ when I accidentally flatten them with a meteorite instead of the mob of enemies chasing him will be amongst the funniest multiplayer experiences in my memory.
We really enjoyed this game, and whilst we haven’t finished it yet, we’re by no means bored of it and will definitely come back for more time and again.