Magicka 2 had one of the most hilarious announcement trailers for a game in recent history. It featured an out of work wizard committing blunder after blunder until he saw an ad where wizards were being hired. From the outset, Magicka 2 sets itself apart from the rest of the sorcery-spellcasting games. The very process of casting a spell in Magicka 2 is unique, and while it takes some time to get used to, it is a lot of fun. You’ll experience moments of ecstasy as you conjure spell after spell of elemental brilliance a la Merlin, and you’ll also have the occasional moment when you feel like a klutz with the staff. Magicka 2 has a steep, challenging single-player campaign and you’ll die a lot before learn the art of wizardry. Some of these deaths can feel unreasonable, almost unavoidable. But Magicka 2 has enough meat in the rest of the gameplay to keep you coming back even if you have steep hills to climb.
The game has a deep and expansive spellcasting system – you have to create permutations and combinations of 10 different magical elements. Each combination creates a different spell, and all of them will be useful in some situation. The elements combine logically – water + cold = ice, water + fire = steam etc. once you’ve seen the different elements you can use, you can unleash your inner wizard. You can create defensive and offensive spells, single-target spells and area of effect spells, and even change the damage type of each spell. If you think the ability to conjure a spell almost out of thin air would make you unbeatable, think again. Magicka 2 will put you in several situations where you will have to use all of your spellcasting knowledge, and even then your success isn’t guaranteed.
The Game Play:
The environment plays a huge part in determining which spells will be effective in a certain situation. For example, if you’re wet, you shouldn’t cast lightning spells. You’ll need to dry yourself off by using some combination of fire and other elements. But you don’t have to stop here – you can make yourself immune to being drenched by melding water spells with a barrier element. After you’ve done that, you can spam your lightning skills till the cows come home. And if your opponents have walked through some water just before they get to you? Let’s just say they’re in for the shock of their lives. Magicka 2’s campaign features plenty of moments like these – moments which get you thinking about the complex interactions between the different elements at your disposal. Even though the campaign only last around eight hours, the game will have you chuckling (and swearing, occasionally) throughout with its quirky humor and pop-culture references.
Just in case you thought turning the environment and the elements in your favor would be easy, consider how many combinations of 10 elements you can create. And then, consider how difficult it would be to remember and then execute these different elements to create spells in real time. There are no easy battles in Magicka 2. The game guides you swiftly through increasingly difficult and complex scenarios where you have to juggle numerous variables to achieve victory. And since there are so many variables you have to consider, even the simplest of battles can turn deadly if you don’t remember the right combination for your spells. Unlike other RPG games, there isn’t a brute force strategy that you can lean upon when the going gets tough. You have to be a smart, smart wizard. Like all difficult endeavors, mastering spellcasting and deftly scraping through difficult battles is very rewarding.
Even if your wizarding skills reach Gandalf-esque levels, the game still knocks you down with the occasional cheap death. There are several enemies who can inexplicably kill you with one shot or send you careening clean across the screen and into a ravine. You’ll come up against enemies that cast several different elemental spells upon you, killing you over and over again as you scramble to figure out which defensive measures you need to cast. Sometimes you’ll have the camera glitch when you’re knocked back, leaving you to watch in horror as your foes calmly trot out of view to kill your hapless self. There are moments when it seems like Magicka 2 takes sadistic pleasure in humbling you with death after death.
Once you’re playing co-op, a lot of these situations can be handled much more effectively. Up to four players can participate in a co-op campaign, and all of them can revive each other. This is a godsend, because when you come up against situations like the ones we talked about before, you’ll need the extra life (or ten). Playing co-op also creates several unintentionally hilarious moments because of friendly fire. There are several advantages to having some friends along for the ride because you can focus on being the main damage dealer or a support caster depending upon your playstyle.
The game features a lot of unlockable content that can enhance your character’s appearance and/or fighting ability. You can even dual-wield some truly insane combinations like a severed head and a fire-breathing chainsaw. Magicka 2 also allows you to unlock several modifiers to change the way the gameplay works. Fancy your friends exploding in a cartoonish manner when they die? There’s an option for that. If you’re a fan of complex spellcasting, dry humor and challenging combat, Magicka 2 is the game for you.