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Magicka: It’s not Hack'n'Slash… It’s Spells'n'Flash!

By Carolyn Koh on September 06, 2014 | Previews | Comments

Magicka: It’s not Hack'n'Slash… It’s Spells'n'Flash!

What it’s not – an MMO. What it is – a super fun dungeon crawler you can play with up to four friends. Be warned… there is friendly fire.

Magicka 2 is set after the events of Magicka and Magicka: Wizard Wars, and you are the last of the powerful mages left in the world after the wars, rising from the ruins of Aldrheim to experience an almost wizard free Midgård.

Designed and published by Paradox Interactive, the game is meant to be funny and fun. Smart aleck villagers, wise-cracking trolls, As put by Associate Producer Peter Cornelius, you’ve got four unpredictable and perhaps slightly irresponsible wizards running around blasting enemies and helping each other as they journey through Midgård, ridding the world of evil.

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“Oops, did I kill you? Sorry. Resurrecting.”

The are eight elements that the wizards (or you) command: Fire, Frost, Water, Lightning, Life, Earth, Death and Shield. You get five pips to line these elements up so you can chain a single element or create a fire-ball with earth and fire, slow a boss down with Frost, then hitting it with arcane or lighting to see if he explodes. Some elements like Death is a beam and locks on. Others like Life can be AoE’d around your character to boost your team’s health as well, and yes, you can totally hurt yourself and your team mates.

There isn’t any leveling of your characters; they are improved by finding equipment drops – robes and staffs, and other weapons like glowing swords and powerful axes that you can also wield together with your magical staff.  Another item, artifacts, are new for this version of Magicka. Artifacts are world changing items and have to be activated to shape the world. Some are totally silly, like one of Peter’s favorite, the Sitcom artifact which provides an audience track, laughing and cheering your team on, applauding when you survive an encounter.

Co-op gameplay seems to be the way to go as this provides the additional fun of friendly fire. As there isn’t any leveling associated with the game, you don’t lose anything but a little time before your team mates revive and heal you. In Magicka2 – to be released on PS4 and PC, all levels and game modes in Magicka 2 will be supported for four player co-op with hot join and checkpoints. Log on to Steam and find three of your friends already playing a game, you can jump right in to join them if that feature it turned on for the game, or join in at a checkpoint.

Hands-on

Otherwise known as “Hand a PC gamer a Playstation Controller and watch her flail.” I wasn’t to get away with simply mashing buttons as I had to queue up elements for every spell. Left stick to move, right stick to aim, watch the text to see what the trolls were saying and watch their reactions for element vulnerability while trying to queue up your spell pips, try not to kill yourself, whoops? Where is Peter? Yah… I must have died over a dozen times and killed Peter 3 or 4 times. However, as I gained better familiarity with the controller, I began to have serious fun, laughingly aping Peter’s “Hey, that’s ME!” a few times myself. What’s NOT fun about having a little colorful robed guy running around throwing fearsome spells? Killing big bosses and finding treasure chests? It’s one big-fun action-packed dungeon crawl.

Half the fun seems to be accidentally killing your friends. “Hey that’s me!”  “Oops, sorry!” Whether they ran into your fire or you were really aiming for an enemy and got them instead. The story driven campaign is linear, but you can replay any of the areas to make sure you have better chances of getting a particular piece of equipment you were hoping for.

From a feeling of trepidation at being handed a console controller to having fun in less than 15 minutes and setting the controller down reluctantly to head off to another appointment? Yes, I liked the game. I can see I shall be recommending the game to my guild like I did Orcs Must Die. Readers wanting to check this game out, take trip to the Magicka 2 site.

Carolyn Koh / Carolyn has been writing for MMORPG.com since 2004 and about the MMO genre since 1999. These days she plays mobile RTS games more, but MMOs will always remain near and dear to her heart.