Procrastination Amplification: Punditry on MMOs and games in general.

A Brief Look at Magicka

So another Rift beta phase started on Tuesday and I planned to play some of that in between try-outs1 for new flatmates. Turns out I wasn’t able to access the beta all of Tuesday, so I turned my attention to two new games instead – Magicka and Magic the Gathering: Tactics. Please note that I spent little time (and no money yet) on either game, so this post really isn’t much more than a brief look. In short though, one game is disappointing while the other seems quite promising. I’ll talk about the better one, and maybe about MTG: Tactics at a later point when I get the chance to play it a bit more.

Magicka is the most curious little game by Swedish game studio Arrowhead. You play the role of a wizard (yawn) who can conjure up the power of various elements (double-yawn) and combine them in any way he or she likes for a surprising variety of effects (ya… wait what?) The game does away with all the usual shenanigans like a mana pool or global cooldowns. All you do is charge up your avatar with various elemental balls by pressing a couple of keys and then releasing them in one of various ways. Charge up fire, point it at an enemy, get a cone of fire. Simple. Combine the fire with earth though and you get a fireball. Combine it with arcane magic to create a ray of fire. Make your enemies wet with some water then combine arcane and electricity to fry the hell out of them. Check out this post over at Rock, paper, Shotgun for a few fun examples of what you can (and shouldn’t!)  do.

Your avatar can charge up with up to five orbs of elements and release them in a variety of ways (i.e. shoot them at an opponent, cast them upon herself) creating an immense amount of possible spell variations. The game becomes even more fun playing it with multiple players (Don’t cross the streams! Or well, do, but only with the right elements.) The system reminds me a bit of something I have been musing over for quite a while – only that my system wasn’t discrete but rather continuous with a virtually unlimited amount of possible spells. Oh and it never reached any phase in where I could even envision completion. I love the idea of more free-form gameplay as opposed to the button-pressing we get in MMORPGs (and other games for that matter).

Magicka is clearly not a huge game (and doesn’t have to be at €9.99), but it is a fun little piece of innovative action that is sure worth getting. I’ve only had time to check out the demo so far, but will definitely buy it. It does seem like something that would be a lot of fun on consoles as well – it should be quite hilarious with multiple people in front of one screen. They have announced releases for XBox and PS3, but I can’t find any final dates on that.

Quite a shame, really, that Arrowhead is just looking for graphics people. Seems like they’ve got quite the creative team going. I’d love an opportunity to work in Sweden (though, to be frank, Skellefteå is quite far away from everything, except maybe the north pole.)

In short, try the demo (it’s on steam), then buy the game. If you are interested in game design at all, the game is already worth it from a purely educational point of view. Not to mention the fun that can be had with it.

1Well, interviews, but I thought try-outs sounded quite a bit more interesting.

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