by Quinn Levandoski
reviewed on PC
Do you believe in magic?
I’m not a big MOBA guy. I’ve dabbled in a few, and I understand the core concept and appeal, but I couldn’t tell you the first thing about what separates League of Legends from DotA 2. I think there’s something to be said for going in with a blank slate of expectations and that's exactly how I went into writing this review. I’ve enjoyed playing Magicka: Wizard Wars. It’s not an intimidating beast of a game like some of its contemporaries, but it’s not anywhere near easy either. It’s a fun game that’s worth taking the time to master, especially if you can play with friends.
Show Your Style
The meat of Wizard Wars may be in its frantic matches but that wasn’t the best part for me. The best part was player customization. Not only are there a huge array of robes ranging from plain to crazy Assassin’s Creed cloaks, pirates, and more, but you can also customize your weapon, staff, and trinkets. Being that all of these affect your wizards strengths and weaknesses, customization not only makes the game more fun to watch, but almost gives the game “roles.” I decided to try and emulate my favorite superhero, and made a water based crowd control dude. He looked the part with gold scale armor, the closest staff to a trident I could find, and a sword made of conch shells. The sword gave me the ability to make a tidal wave that pushes groups back, and everything gave me a small boost to water attacks, which I use to push people around more. The wizard is distinctly mine, and I love seeing him fighting in the same arena as defensive-based Spartan soldiers, Nature shaman-esque revival specialists, gas-mask toting fire blasters, and more. The visual diversity is great, and it’s nice to be able to “specialize” via your equipment stats without being completely locked into a role at all.
One result of player customization is that Wizard Wars looks great. I dig the cartoony, Jawa-looking wizards, and the environments and spells all look great. Each spell combination has a really cool, distinctive animation, and combining them with lush environments leads to the screen always being bright and vibrant with colors. Speaking of which, the spells are worth talking about. Spells are how you’ll be doing much of your combat (along with your weapon’s special ability, which range from charging slashes to ground tremors), and they’re more complex than just clicking one of a few pre-determined spells like “fireball” or “shield.” Instead, each spell is made up of three element selections. Elements include things like stone, fire, health, water, ice, death, etc., and the ones you pick, along with the order you pick them in, effects your spell. Not every single combination is possible, but an impressive majority are.
At first you’ll probably be randomly clicking combos to see what happens, but eventually you’ll memorize which key each is, and be able to hit the combo for what you want like second nature. Knowing every single combo isn’t mandatory, but at least knowing a bunch that fit your wizard’s strengths is a must. I play a water guy, and there’s a big difference between death/death/water, which makes a water based beam, water/stone/stone, which makes a chargeable blast that knocks both you and your enemy down, water/water/water, which makes a cone that does little damage, but pushes people around, water/water/shield, which makes a defensive water wall, and the myriad of other elemental permutations available. It’s tough to learn, but a lot of fun once you do.
Visual customization, pseudo-roles, non-intrusive free-to-play structure, cool elemental interactions for spells
Steep learning curve, some game crashing bugs in the menus