|Developer(s)||Arrowhead Game Studios|
|Release date(s)||January 25, 2011|
|Mode(s)||Single-player, multiplayer, cooperative|
Magicka is an action-adventure video game based on Norse mythology and developed by Swedish independent developer Arrowhead Game Studios. It was released via Steam for Microsoft Windows on January 25, 2011. A free demo was also made available for download. The game was developed by eight students at Luleå University of Technology in Skellefteå, Sweden and sold over 200,000 copies in its first 17 days on sale. It had sold 1.3 million copies and 4 million DLC packs as of January 2012, making it one of the most successful games published by Paradox Interactive and was credited with a 250% rise in profits for Paradox during 2012. As of June 2014, it has sold 2.8 million copies on Steam.
In Magicka, up to four mages of a sacred order travel to fight against an evil sorcerer and his creations. The game world is based loosely on Norse mythology, drawing inspiration from other fantasy games like Warhammer and Diablo, while also making regular use of comedy and self-referential humor. The game also takes liberties when it comes to the classic fantasy setting, at one point supplying the players with an M60 machine gun. In expansions the game also explores a Vietnam War setting as well as the Lovecraftian Cthulhu universe.
Magicka is an action-adventure game played in a 3D environment from an isometric perspective. A single player or up to four simultaneous cooperative players take on the roles of wizards tasked with stopping an evil sorcerer that has thrown the world into a state of turmoil. The main adventure campaign consists of 13 levels.
In contrast to role-playing game mechanics that traditionally dominate among magic and wizardry-based video games, Magicka has no character class structure. Similarly there is no "mana bar", or energy meter that limits the use of special abilities, as magic spells can be cast without limit and do not require the consumption of any finite resource. The game is also exceptionally scant in its utilization of powerup items, as one of the developers' goals was to shift focus away from the acquisition of material goods, or "loot", as player motivation.
Spells and elements
The game contains eight base elements (water, life, shield, cold, lightning, arcane, earth and fire) which can be mixed and combined to cast spells. Up to five elements can be chained together for this purpose, but certain elements cannot be combined together due to their opposing nature (for instance, fire and cold). Additionally, two other elements can be created by mixing two base elements: steam (water and fire) and ice (water and cold); these behave like base elements, thus giving players access to ten elements to cast spells from.
When casting a spell composed of multiple elements, there is a set hierarchy which determines the type of the spell cast. Shields take precedence over projectiles (earth and ice), which take precedence over beams (life and arcane), which take precedence over steam, which takes precedence over lightning, which takes precedence over sprays (water, fire and cold). For example a spell consisting of pure fire would be a spray of flame. A spell of fire and earth would be a fireball projectile. A spell of fire and arcane would create a flaming beam. A spell of fire, arcane and earth would create a flaming, arcane rock projectile. A spell of fire, arcane, earth, and shield would result in a flaming arcane rock barrier. The order in which the component elements of a spell are summoned has no effect on the type or power of the spell, and does not matter, except when attempting to cast a "Magick" as opposed to a regular spell.
Each spell can be cast in four different ways: as a ranged projectile or beam, as an area effect spell, as an enhancement in wielding the player's secondary weapon (normally a sword), or on the players' own bodies. All elements tend to cause damage, except Life, which heals (this is reversed for Undead enemies where Arcane heals them and Life damages them), and Shield, which creates barriers. This can also affect what spell is cast; for instance casting shield and arcane as an area of effect will create a circle of arcane mines around the caster; however; casting it on oneself will instead cause the caster to have an arcane invulnerability aura.
To cast a spell, the player first sequentially presses the associated buttons for the desired elements (for example: q, w, e, r, a, s, d, and f, respectively, when playing using a QWERTY PC keyboard) in order to "gather" them, which show up as icons on the screen as they are pressed. The player then chooses one of the four ways to cast the spell using different mouse buttons.
A physics system is included in the game: explosions can send players and monsters flying across the screen, wizards can use spray spells to push or knock back targets, etc.
Special spells called "Magicks" require specific combinations and produce unique effects, and also require the acquisition of the corresponding Spellbook in order to become available to the player. Spellbooks are placed throughout the campaign levels, but are also dropped by "Sapient Pearwood Luggage" (a low level enemy that resembles a chest) in Challenge and Versus (PvP) modes. Examples include "Haste", which temporarily allows the player to move faster, "Teleport", which instantaneously transport the player to a location of his or her choice, and "Time Warp", which slows down time.
To cast a Magick, the player must "follow the recipe" by conjuring the appropriate elements of the Magick in the correct order.
Though not the primary method of combat, players will always have a weapon in their left hand and a staff in their right. The player can use their current weapon by pressing Shift + Left Click. Weapons vary from regular swords with no special effects, to a magical mace that sets enemies ablaze with fire, to an M60 light machine-gun. Staves usually have some magical effect which can either be passive "always-on" abilities (such as an aura that heals nearby players) or active abilities which have a cooldown time and are used by clicking the Middle Mouse Button (for instance one staff summons a friendly tree monster, and another causes surrounding enemies to run away in terror).
Expansions, DLC and new content
The game's first expansion is Magicka: Vietnam, a short themed co-op campaign and a single challenge map which was released on April 12 for $4.99 on Steam, GamersGate and other digital distribution channels. The expansion takes its artistic liberty further by setting the background in the Vietnam War and fighting Vietcong-themed enemies (Vietcong Goblins, for instance) with weapons in that era (e.g. AK-47). Players also have access to a new napalm magick, which takes the form of an airstrike. The expansion was intended as reference to Battlefield: Bad Company 2: Vietnam as can be seen from the promotional trailers/posters.
Magicka: Marshlands, released April 26, 2011, adds two new challenge locations; a haunted marsh involving waves of undead (paid DLC), and an underground cavern where the players fight goblins, trolls and dwarves (a free update).
Magicka: Nippon was also released, which adds a kimono robe, a katana and a bamboo staff. For a limited time 50% of the revenue from Magicka: Nippon sales goes towards the Japanese Relief effort.
A PvP (Player vs. Player) mode was released on June 21 allowing players to fight against each other 1v1 and 2v2 matches. Several new maps specifically for the PVP mode were also released, some for free and others as paid DLC.
As of November 2011, many new maps and new player models (new robes) have been released - some paid and others for free including a robe referencing the buggy state of the game at launch (Patched Robe with Bugged Staff, and the Crash To Desktop magick) and more referencing Warhammer 40,000 and Star Trek among others. In addition, on November 16 a large technology update was released for the game which updated the engine and graphics, fixed bugs, and added a Fairy Familiar to revive players who are playing through the adventure mode solo. The Familiar is intended to parody Navi in the Legend of Zelda series of games.
On October 27, 2011 Magicka: The Stars are Left was announced as the game's second expansion - this time much larger and including an all new story/adventure mode. The expansion has a Lovecraftian, Cthulhu theme and is reported to include 2 new robes, 2 new bosses, 7 new enemies and considerably more than 2 new items and magicks. The expansion was originally intended to be called "The Stars are Right" however due to a last minute discovery that the copyright for that name was already held by another game; the name of the expansion was changed 12 hours before the announcement.
A new expansion, titled Magicka: The Other Side of the Coin, was released on June 14, 2012.
On October 12, 2012 a paid DLC titled Magicka: Dungeons & Daemons was released. It takes place in the labyrinthine halls underneath Castle Aldrheim, and features a new dungeon-based tale available in either single-player or co-op modes, with new monsters and obstacles, as well as a secret hard mode.
On October 29, 2012 a small expansion titled Magicka: Grimnir's Laboratory was released. It adds 3 new robes (based on various fictional Doctors) to the game, as well at the titular laboratory as an Arena map. This new arena map has a special feature which locks certain elements from being used by the player at any given time.
Magicka: Wizards of the Square Tablet is a fantasy iOS game developed by Ludosity Interactive and released by Paradox Interactive on March 28, 2013. The game has a Metacritic rating of 88% based on 9 critic reviews.
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As of January 2012, the game has sold 1.3 million copies worldwide; over 4 million expansion packs have been sold, with Magicka: Vietnam having reached over 500,000 sales.
In January 2013 the game, along with Vietnam DLC, was included in Indie Gala and sold more than 37,000 bundles.
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