Once upon a time, there was a small indie game released known as Magicka. The game had a terrible launch. It was buggy, unstable, prone to crashing, and the multiplayer didn’t work for almost a week. Luckily, this was fixed, and the game soon became beloved by many for its unique gameplay and absolutely absurd humor. Flash forward to now and we finally have Magicka 2, the long awaited sequel to everyone’s favorite story of Wizards and Vamp – well, everyone’s favorite story of wizards, at least.
If you don’t know, Magicka is an isometric action game developed by Arrowhead Game Studios and Pieces Interactive, published by Paradox. It puts you in the role of one of (up to) four wizards. In both games, you’re tasked with saving the world from impending doom with the help of Vlad, a wizarding teacher who is definitely not a vampire. In your adventures, you’ll encounter plenty of crazy characters and monsters, all of whom speak absolutely no English, but rather a strange combination of Swedish, English, and outright gibberish. It sounds stupid, but it actually makes for one of the highlights of the games, as character voices say the most outrageously funny things, while the actual text boxes are normal, coherent sentences.
Gameplay is definitely the most interesting part of Magicka 2. You’re given eight elements: Water, Life, Shield, Ice, Electricity, Death, Earth, and Fire – which are all bound to the Q, W, E, R, A, S, D, and F keys, respectively. You can press the keys in any order to combine elements for different attacks. You can create a lightning bolt made of fire, an ice laser, a boulder made of pure death, you can even infuse your sword with Life and then whack your friends with it to heal them. Anything you can think of, you can probably do it.
Obviously, certain elements can’t be combined like Life and Death, Fire and Water, Electricity and Earth. Just don’t ever cross Life and Death beams with a friend if you know what’s good for you – it literally creates a black hole. This elements mechanic can be quite daunting, but yields hilariously satisfying results if you can get the hang of it. In the heat of battle, you’ll often find yourself fumbling to attack correctly. You’ll also probably kill yourself a few times by accidentally dropping a massive rock on yourself rather than the orc in front of you.
So, as compared to Magicka, how does Magicka 2 fare? Well, in my time with the game I’ve had a blast – just as I did with the first game. The locations are interesting, the dialogue hilarious, and the game also isn’t broken. I haven’t had a single crash, bug, or any issues playing online. It’s a totally smooth experience, and I’m thoroughly impressed by that, given the previous game’s launch.
Plenty of new weapons and robes have been added, and robes also have actual pros\cons to wearing them now. Some robes protect you from fire, while making you weak to earth, and some do things like increase your lightning damage. It adds more depth to the robes, rather than just giving you a new weapon and staff like in the first game. Another addition are familiars. These are little creatures that follow you around and give you little boosts. Some revive you when you die, (that particular one looks strikingly similar to a certain fairy we know from another franchise…) some will give you random element boosts for a period of time, so on so forth.
All of these additions allow for tons of new things you can unlock. Unfortunately, at this current moment, I have no idea how you unlock them. Each level has a set amount of unlocks, but it’s a total crapshoot how to unlock them. It’s usually achieved by performing entirely random actions, such as killing an old wizard war veteran that simply talks to you. It’d be nice if the game would give you some hints as to what actions you need to perform in order to unlock things. If I hadn’t mistakenly set the old wizard on fire and made him attack me, I would’ve never gotten that specific unlock. I’m assuming that’s supposed to be the goofy charm of it, but for a completionist like myself, it’s a total nightmare.
Unfortunately, these are the only obvious new additions to Magicka 2. Everything else is exactly the same. Elements work in exactly the same way, and some elements that could previously combine together can’t. I was incredibly disappointed at the lack of at least one new element to play around with. And that’s just the issue with Magicka 2: It’s just not that much different from its predecessor. There could’ve been tons of new additions, but it seems as though the developer decided to stick with the safe route.
As far as difficulty goes, well, it’s definitely as difficult as ever. I have a very hard time recommending you play Magicka 2 without friends, because it’s just way too hard. You won’t have anyone to revive you, and your familiar will only do it once and then has to recharge. Even on the easiest difficulty, I could barely get passed level two on my own. At times the game will just throw way too many enemies at you, and it becomes too chaotic to continue being entertaining. So, definitely try and find some friends to play with.
Magicka 2 is a hilariously chaotic game, but I just can’t recommend it at full price with the content that’s here. If you’ve beaten Magicka and want more adventures to go on, this game will certainly give you your fix and I’m sure plenty of DLC will be added to further its lifespan. With that said, just buy Magicka and decide for yourself. While it may be hard to recommend Magicka 2 over its predecessor’s perfection, it’s great fun, and works like a dream–but, there just isn’t enough here to warrant a brand new game.
This review was written with a press copy provided by Paradox Interactive