To be fair, the spell effects look good. Watching a screen full of magic and exploding enemies is entertaining, at least at first. Things can get quite chaotic, in fact, and controlling the wizards can be something of a challenge in the heat of battle. This becomes even more difficult during the multiplayer sessions. Players can gather a few friends together to run the campaign as a team, an endeavor that comes with its own pros and cons. It is vital that everyone actually work as a team--these magicks affect everyone, friend or foe. In addition, various spells can interact with other magicks in...interesting ways. If players are not careful, they can find themselves crossing beams of oppositely-aligned elements and doing more harm to themselves than to their enemies. A screen full of uncoordinated wizards can be much more of a threat to themselves than to anyone else. Thankfully, it is quite simple for any player to quickly revive a comrade and dive right back into the chaotic action.
The story is entirely generic, but that's the point. As far as I can tell, each and every element of Magicka is a tongue-in-cheek poke at the genre or of geek culture in general. The writers really took the "throw it all at the wall and see what sticks" idea to heart. Some of the jokes are funny, some truly awful, and most are at least mildly entertaining. That being said, in-jokes and puns are my kind of humor, and those less inclined to amusement of this sort will quickly be gnashing their teeth at the unrelenting onslaught of allusions and clever winks. Even the subtitled "dialogue," which sounds like the Muppet's Swedish Chef gone mad, wavered between funny and painful. Those not in the market for lighthearted (and at times groan-inducing) humor be warned.
Magicka is initially entertaining and innovative, but its longevity is questionable at best. I certainly see no reason to make another run at the game, which for an action-RPG is quite unusual. Without a selection of classes or advancement paths, the first time through was simply enough for me. Added to the almost tiring amount of keyboarding required to effectively cast spells, I quickly found myself yearning for a simpler, more elegant action-RPG. I do approve and encourage innovative approaches, which Magicka certainly has. However, it just wasn't enough to win me over for good.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
Some clever ideas wrapped in a lighthearted romp, Magicka partially collapses under its own weight of the innovative but overly-complex magic system.
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