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Genre: Arcade
Official Site:
Publisher: Online Distribution Only

Genre: Arcade
Official Site:
Publisher: Online Distribut...
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Magicka Review
Review By @ 12:44pm 07/02/11
There’s a saying that goes something along the lines of ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover’, which probably came about one day when someone bought a book that featured an awesome cover filled with flaming dragons and giant swords cutting through the heavens. It turned out to be a story about an old lady and her prize winning roses, or something like that.

In the videogame world, games are usually judged on first glance by their screenshots, leading to them usually being pegged squarely into a particular genre. Take Magicka for example, one look at the screenshots and you will immediately think that this is a colourful action-RPG along the lines of Diablo, or the more recent Torchlight. Top down viewpoint? Check. Fantasy world with goblins and monsters? Check. Staff-wielding wizards shooting fire and ice at said goblins and monsters? Check.

But in actual fact, the gameplay in Magicka has more in common with the classic side-scrolling brawlers of the arcade, like Final Fight, than the standard fantasy spell-driven RPGs that the screenshots allude to. Not in the punch the other guy in the head repeatedly sense but in the mutual focus on frequent combo driven combat. This realisation quickly turns Magicka into something that feels original, albeit something that looks like one thing and plays like another. So even though its perspective and controls mimic those of an isometric action-RPG, the button combinations, action, and battles play out more along the lines of a co-op brawler, but with magic spells in lieu of muscle-y punching arms.

All combat and puzzle solving in Magicka is done via spell-casting, through the use and combination of various magic types. With the various schools of magic mapped out over eight keys on the keyboard, the game gives players some basic spell combinations to play around with that start off very simple and get quite complex as the game progresses. With the introduction of basic elements on a single key and a beam projectile on another, this inevitably leads quite naturally to various fire, ice, and lightning beam spells that can easily be punched out on your keyboard. With plenty of room for experimentation and consequently various key strokes to learn, Magicka is very much an action game, but one that is steeped in combo driven spell-casting.

Without the standard RPG elements of levelling, loot drops, inventory, and so forth, you may get the feeling that the overall gameplay may be simplified, but this simply heightens and strengthens the spell-casting gameplay that is itself quite deep, and when played in co-op can lead to hundreds of different attack spell combinations, and area effects. This makes the single-player prospect a little bit underwhelming, as the various shield, healing and resurrection spells prove to be of little worth when playing alone. It also makes experimentation when playing alone a risky endeavour, as with no resurrection spells there will be a lot of premature wizard deaths to deal with, leading to some understandable frustration.

Couple this with a fairly ho-hum storyline that although somewhat amusing does try a little too hard to be funny, and you can see why Magicka is best played online. That’s not to say that the game’s visuals and setting are not without their charm, and when the Magicka opts to parody adventure games, RPGs, and other fantasy fare it can be quite funny, but more often than not falls way short of the mark. However, when you team up with other wizards to take on goblin hordes and huge bosses whilst combining ice beams, meteor showers, and laying down electric shields, Magicka truly comes into its own. That is of course if you can play on-line without having the game crash on you.

Sure buggy game releases are nothing new, and with the numerous combinations of hardware out there, it comes as no surprise that “0 day” patches have become an industry standard. Magicka is no stranger to random crashes and disconnections, but when it is stable there is definitely a lot of fun to be had with the game’s surprisingly lengthy 13 levels. And thankfully the daily bug fixes and patches seem to be making the game more playable with each passing day.
What we liked
  • Skill based spell casting makes it more than a button masher
  • Great co-op gameplay
  • You could do a lot worse for $10
What we didn't like
  • Buggy, but getting better
  • Not nearly as charming as it could be
  • Single-player mode lacks any real incentive
We gave it:
Latest Comments
Posted 01:23pm 07/2/11
should we be counting down days, months or years until diablo 3?
Posted 01:35pm 07/2/11
Ugh I WAS going to pick this up last night glad I didn't.

D3 still another year away yet.
Posted 01:41pm 07/2/11
Runs terribly on my PC, at least it has a demo so I didn't have to waste my money.
Posted 02:04pm 07/2/11
This deserves more then 6.5 and who gets charmed by games?
Posted 03:00pm 07/2/11
Ran fine for me, but i quit at level 6 when i died near the end and the checkpoint sent me back too far and the game has no in level save, so i cbf going back and doing the whole level again, then the part before the end if i die on the final boss again.

The bunch of movie references were a bit funny, so ill have to google what i missed due to ragequitting.
Posted 03:41pm 07/2/11
Yeah I ragequit as well. Check points should be autosaves not nothing. Also half the achievements didn't work for me then suddenly I had a lot of them pop up pretty much all at once (well spread over 5 minutes) including ones I hadn't got yet.
Posted 03:48pm 07/2/11
I thought 6.5 was kind
Posted 04:28pm 07/2/11
I just think the combat system originality (it may not be, but its new to me) and the arena mode in multiplayer are really well done. Sure the single player is boring, but what single player isn't boring these days, I wouldn't touch it unless it had the co-op. No crashes or obvious bugs for me at all, though I have really only played the arena mode 4 player co-op with KB and 3 x 360 controllers.
Posted 04:49pm 07/2/11
Don't cross the streams!
Posted 04:55pm 07/2/11
Great game for the price, 6.5 is a bit low imho! I'd go for 7.5

Loving the combo of spherical shield + ESSSS bombs* placed just outside the shield wall. I had a 5 second boss fight on Stage 3 as he was blown off the map on the first touch haha. Tho my loss I guess since I didn't get any loot from that.

(* = or ESSSR bombs for frost slow-down as well on fast enemies)

last edited by parabol at 16:55:07 07/Feb/11
Posted 05:35pm 07/2/11
I haven't been able to get past fafnir... keeps crashing every time I get there, then I have to play the entire level again. Have done it about 12 times now, I think? :/ Not counting the times I didn't make it through due to instachop death from flash dwarves or from yetis if I buggered up a teleport or such.

I had a blast of a time in co-op though, bugs aside.
Posted 06:18pm 07/2/11
Been playing Magicka now since release during any downtime. Not having to take the game seriously has been fantastic its very light hearted and likes to make fun of itself.

For $10.00 its well worth a look
Posted 06:49pm 07/2/11
The developers dug themselves a bit of a hole when they designed the spell-casting system so that there are no limitations placed upon the player outside of an interruption via damage; there are no resources (mana/energy), no spell cool-downs and no spell casting times*. The natural result of this is that every second enemy in the game (I'm serious) has an ability that knocks the player down / away, and getting hit in melee range interrupts spell casting (or removes your current spell cast).

The idea of unlimited spell-casting with foes that can incapacitate you is pretty cool in coop, with more players to spread the knock downs around and help you if you get knocked down, but in single-player it often becomes a frustrating series of consecutive spell interruptions as you face a large number of enemies at once. As long as you have at least one ally with you the knock-downs are much more forgiving and the game much more enjoyable.

It's a fun game and the waves-of-enemies coop arena is a blast to play with friends as you try to control and destroy dangerous foes. It's a good time coop and worth its $10 price, but just don't go into single player unless you have a good grasp on the overpowered spell combinations as the large number of knock-down chaining foes is annoying.

*Generally speaking; some boulder or ice shard attacks benefit significantly (more damage/smaller cone) from "charging" the spell, but it isn't required.
Posted 09:55am 08/2/11
I've enjoyed it thus far besides checkpoints doing absolutely nothing. I like some of the references to other games and things of that nature, was grinning when I found the master sword in the forest, great reference to Zelda.
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