by Marko Susimetsä
previewed on PC
Harken back to days of yore
In my teens, one of my favourite games to be played with friends was Gauntlet and its sequel Gauntlet II. Now, Arrowhead Game is working on an action adventure title that seems to reintroduce the same kind of gameplay to modern audiences. In Magicka up to four friends can team up to wreak havoc on an endless stream of enemies with more or less powerful magic. And the developers state that the absolutely best way to enjoy Magicka will be to have those four friends in the same room, watching the same screen as they play – just like Gauntlet was all those year ago.
But, for the benefit of those poor souls who never played Gauntlet, let’s take a little closer look at what Magicka is all about.
Whereas in Gauntlet you could choose between different character classes, in Magicka the player will assume the role of a wizard – and so will any additional players joining the game. These wizards are tasked with a mission of bringing down an evil sorcerer by first bringing down all his evil creations with flashy and destructive magics.
The wizards will combine different elements – such as cold, fire, life and shield – in order to achieve various kinds of spectacular killing spells. The best of the destructive magics will effectively light up the entire screen as they cause damage to every living creature at the same time – including the four hapless wizards. As in Gauntlet, half of the fun – if not more – comes from the “accidental” killings of your fellow wizards and the looting of their item drops. And, naturally, the reincarnation of the deceased wizard will plan revenge...
The main campaign will last from four to six hours and will take the players through three different levels of lush mountain valleys and the halls of the Mountain King. The killing fields are pretty open, giving the players a chance to manoeuvre their wizards into suitable positions before they launch their spells at the enemy groups. In fact, a major part of the gaming will be running around, avoiding enemies and luring them into grouping up until you are ready to launch the next spell. And, naturally, if you are not soloing, you will often be in the midst of that enemy group when one of your friends decides that now is the time to launch a big fireball at them all.
The game will also offer unlockable challenge modes for the real hardcore players who want to place their name on local and online leaderboards.
Unfortunately, the only downside of Magicka fun may well be the controls. The developers state that the best way to play the game is with control pads instead of mouse and keyboard, as the magic spells are concocted together with a help of a radial menu. This menu will be easiest to use with a control stick, naturally. Most PC gamers have got used to playing their games with mouse+keyboard combination and it may be difficult to persuade them to buy up to four controllers in order to play a single game.
In addition, the game also seems to be targeted at a younger audience – than those capable of remembering games like Gauntlet – as the developers stress that fact actions and quick hands at the control will likely bring home the victory.
Magicka is intended as a party game and indeed it will certainly be best enjoyed as such. Although the game has a LAN and online gaming modes, it is clear that most fun will be had if the players are in the same room, able to immediately feel the repercussions of their “accidental” killings. We look forward to seeing this game finished an loaded on our PCs for our future virtual office parties.