From Spellforce to World of Warcraft to Lord of the Rings, fantasy adventure RPGs have thoroughly immersed us in spooky realms populated by wizards, orcs, elves and dwarves to the point where anything new is hard to imagine.
Arrowhead Studios has used this as the starting point for Magicka, which is a Nordic tongue-in-cheek poke at the whole fantasy genre which still manages to provide plenty of challenging gameplay.
The aim of the game
Magicka is a top-down RPG in which you or a total of four players learn how to use and combine up to eight separate elements (such as water, fire, lightning, ice and earth) in an almost infinite range of possibilities to fight against hordes of foes. There are 13 levels to work through, and as well as new spells to be collected, you can endow your trusty sword with powerful blasts.
The skill comes with learning which spell to use against which opponent, when to use the right combos (each element has a contrary one to avoid), and when to avoid catching friends in the firing line. Unusually, there’s no XP to be gained, no money or medikits to collect and no armour to upgrade. Healing is done by casting a spell on yourself or your friends and shields can be created and boosted while fighting spells are launched.
Lots of fun
Magicka is generally fast-paced and a lot of fun (multiplayer more so than solo, despite a few issues with bugs) but our one big frustration was the game’s checkpoint system, which throws you back to the beginning of a level when you die rather than saving as you go. Whether you like all the retro jokes about Star Wars, Monty Python and others – as well as the generally ribald tone – will be a matter of personal taste, but for £8 this is excellent value for money.
Company: Paradox Interactive