Mastery of the elements and micro have come together.
Of all the game publishing companies I have been buying from, Paradox Interactive has really been an interesting one to follow. If ever a publisher could be considered a friend of the "indie" community, I think it might be them. From picking up Tale Worlds' - Mount & Blade to Fatshark's - Lead and Gold to so many other titles from greatly talented groups of developers who in today's market may have otherwise been left out. I should say that I am truly impressed. and having added Arrowhead Game Studios and their fantastic little piece of chaos, Magicka, is yet another moment in the history of Paradox Interactive that has allowed me to keep my faith in their brand.
A Ridiculous Tale of Ridiculousness
Much respect for a game that can present itself as a mess of nerd references with insanely in-depth combat and still not take itself all that seriously. There is almost an odd sense of feeling refreshed when playing Magicka. I don't walk into it with a competitive mind set. I don't have the loot-whore mind set. I just play it to mess some bitches up and watch kings and goblins reference the most nerd-arific movies and games of all time.
The story itself is that proper blend of thought out nonsense that I respond to. A classic tale of ancient evil, kings defending their people against the darkness hammering at the doors to their kingdom. Knights, goblins, orcs, mages, vampires (or somebody who certainly isn't a vampire). All these things swirling around in a world that makes all of no real definitive sense, but for some reason I understand it.
Chaos at My Fingertips
At the core of everything mechanical on the PC, its all about micro. Part of this relies on the player taking part in the game, but how it is presented all comes down to the developers. Decisions made create the base for how "comfortable" the game is to play. From moment one, Magicka fit like a glove. Everything seemed right. The isometric angle of the game was handled well, but that is just the base of it. The meat of Magicka stems from the casting set up. This is where the blending of skill and chaos show through so well.
Q W E R A S D F. These keys blended with left click, right click, middle mouse, shift, and space bar create every spell and spell-use in the game. When confronted with waves of enemies, your wits need to be quick and your hands that much faster in order to survive, and I really like that. To know that QR QR QR QR S right click creates a spray of arcane infused ice shards is one thing, but to rapidly type this in while being chased and shot at is not as easy of a task as one would think. And even in a meta-game sense there is even more to think about in fast succession. Do I cast rain to make everyone wet? If so I need to dispel it and dry myself off because it will be best to cast a massive arc lightning since that will cause the most damage. If I need more time I could always through some ice in afterwards with some earth and flash freeze the wet monsters to get some distance. This is only one of so many situational tactics I have used to decide how to control the flow of combat in a hectic skirmish. Its like rapid action, life and death puzzle solving. I couldn't have asked for anything more, but Arrowhead Game Studios gave me more anyway.
Never Forget the Gamers You Work For
Had Arrowhead Game Studios decided to stop at good core-mechanics I would have been pretty happy. Maybe that is just how I am in a world where so many games get the idea of core mechanics in lieu of gimmicks wrong so often. Magicka certainly goes that extra mile to ground the great gameplay with an equally great experience.
The absurdity of the Magicka is set to a constant reminder to have fun, from the first moment when you are being told by your teacher Vlad that he is most certainly not a vampire to when you arrive at your going away party to watch other be-robed individuals playing techno beats on their lutes to every subsequent moment in Magicka. It is never once lost on me that I'm there to have fun. Loads of fun. Why should fun not be the goal of a game? In the slew of post apocalyptic, super-American-soldier bromances in the market today, its great to be reminded that you can play a game that allows you to break the tension up by random casting "crash to desktop" and watching an NPC or even a player character blue screen themselves to death.
So Many Ways to Kill So Many Things
Magicka, as an IP, stands out in my mind. And after recently delving into the eastern European gaming market's news and what-not, I have found that this seems to be only the beginning. With so many new studios forming and so many new titles and ideas being hinted at, it is becoming more apparent that games like these might be what we need to revitalize the dull existence that is today's gaming. I can't wait to see future releases from Arrowhead Game Studios and Paradox Interactive as a whole.