Monday, July 21, 2014


I tried out another game from my Steam library that awards Steam trading cards today. The game was Magicka, which came with the premise that you were a mage with access to a bunch of different elements and you could combine said elements in order to create a wide variety of spells. It sounded pretty neat, since I like magic and I like combo systems.

The combo system was actually pretty neat. Casting a spell with one fire element gave you a short range flamethrower thing. Casting a spell with a fire and an earth gave you a fireball. Casting a spell with a fire and an arcane gave you a long range fire beam. Then you could also learn extra combos that could be used with similar combinations as long as you hit a different cast button. So for example a fire, a lightning, and an arcane could make either a long range beam that did fire and lightning damage or it could cast haste.

One thing I had fun doing was combining a water with a steam (itself a water and a fire) to make a rain spell. It would cover the screen in rain for a while, drenching everything. Then once the rain ended I could cast fire on myself to dry myself off. Then it was just me and a bunch of enemies cover in water... Sounds like a fine time to cast chain lightning! ZAP!

Unfortunately the input mechanism was very clunky. You have 8 different elements to choose from, and the way to select an element was to hold down the right control stick, move it in one of the 4 cardinal directions, and then move it 90 degrees to one side or the other. So click->hold->up->left->release to add a life element to your character. Or click->hold->left->down->release to add a lightning element. Add up to 5 elements then cast a spell. The whole process was rather awkward, and I found I spent most of my time running from enemies while I tried to input elements instead of murdering things with cool spell combinations.

The game also seemed to be designed as a co-op game since it would tell me about cool stuff to do and/or avoid doing with your teammates. Stuff like not crossing the beams! I could see how it would be easier to pull off combos with other people around... Someone could be in charge of dousing the enemies while the other person fills them up with lightning! Half as many awkward spell casts per enemy death has to be a good thing. As a bonus for playing single player the game gave me a faerie which would bring me back to life ala Zelda. That was nice since it gave me a chance to learn things by dying without having to reload at a checkpoint. It was abysmally bad since they took the Zelda thing one step to far and decided the faerie friend needed to act like Navi by constantly popping up inane text boxes. Yeah, I get it, people found Navi annoying and you want to be cool by bringing it up. Doing it a couple times would have been a neat easter egg. Actually having it constantly spamming me is actually just annoying and was a big turn off.

All in all Magicka felt like a cool idea for a game that just wasn't very fun for me due to a UI I couldn't get the hang of and an annoying single player experience. I don't remember buying it so I assume it came in a bundle of some kind and it had some Steam cards so I'm glad I gave it a whirl, but I don't intend on playing it any more.

1 comment:

Sthenno said...

I played Magicka with keyboard and mouse and from your description it sounds like keyboard and mouse is a much better way to play.

You select elements with QWERASDF and decide what kind of spell to cast by using different clicks and shift. The controls were one of the things that impressed me about the game, so you might want to try it this way.