- Format: PC (version reviewed), PS4, Linux
- Unleashed: Out Now (PC/PS4), Q3/4 2015 (Linux)
- Publisher: Paradox Interactive
- Developer: Pieces Interactive
- Players: 1-4
- Site: http://www.magicka2.com/
- Game codes provided by PR
Magica Majika Majica Magicka 2 is – much like its predecessor – fun, chaotic and frustrating in a way that somehow manages to be an endearing quality, despite how often something takes a turn for the worst. Magicka had a rather poor launch laden with many a bug and while it’s far better than that launch, the sequel has still had its issues. This has taken the form of the game needing to connect to Paradox servers for you to play online, and Bit Defender not allowing that for some reason. There is a work around but it took days for that to become clear and it’s still not ideal – anyway…
Enjoying the chaos that you create by accidentally blowing your friends to pieces, pushing them off a bridge into an abyss, melting the ice they stand on, or any of the limitless (not limitless) possibilities of you doing something that kills your friends in-game, is what makes Magicka, Magicka. It’s the same formula as the last one and that’s great because it works. It also looks a bit better, there’s a whole new set of jokes to uncover within the new storyline, some of the spells are different and it’s all a whole lot more user-friendly.
The user friendliness comes into play with the addition of controller support, which seems to have spurred the addition of quick cast spells for the more complicated and less magic-by-numbers like the beam/shield/weapon spells that are your mainstay. It means that you can now have four spells equipped to the 1-4 keys/D-pad which offer instant cast special spells, but come with a cooldown. It means no fiddling around trying desperately to remember the summon living dead spell or typing an incorrect revive spell in the heat of the moment which, while funny the first few times, did test your patience if you had trouble fitting your mind around all the key locations whilst being attacked.
Mouse and Keyboard will remain a staple for a vast number of people but the controller handles things really well, and uses the console action RPG route of key-mapping ABXY (or PS3/4 equivalent) with two spells and allowing you to pick the second with the left bumper held down. It sort of keeps opposites mapped together which works and/or doesn’t depending on how well you can think about the magical combinations on the fly. It’s meant various confusions between healing and death rays for us, leading to many disastrous and somewhat comical outcomes. It doesn’t currently have remapping available ingame (only through editing text files) which is a real shame as we’d love to separate the main four spells that we use to make combat more fluid, without fiddling with the game’s files (though they are working on this). Controller seems to work better, if only because you can move while aiming in a completely different direction.
It’s primarily a co-op game, and this shows just as much in some of the enemy design as in the puzzles. There are a fair few enemies with rear weak-spots, which are frankly a huge pain to fight if you’re on your own; which may even happen during co-op if your revive is on cooldown. Giant crabs are the first big pain, especially with some of the rather cramped conditions you fight in. Some clever combinations are possible though, as life and death magic creates a delayed explosion when the two rays meet in any form – even if combined with other elements. The biggest issue with co-op is the screen, which is set as a box that encapsulates every player on screen but doesn’t hesitate to let you trap players between the screen’s invisible walls and terrain or enemies. You can’t toggle UI elements ingame, which makes things harder, as it blocks some of the screen but does give some valuable information.
What we managed to find of the puzzles were good. There were some interesting things with working as a team to problem solve; but the fact we didn’t come across more is perhaps an issue the game has with invisible walls blocking off so many areas that it becomes tiresome to even bother looking for them. Freezing almost every single body of water as you scramble across in an attempt to find some sort of secret gets tiresome fast, especially on the water levels. We ended up only going down hugely obvious paths – or one time we think we blew up a secret wall – because frankly there were very few worthwhile rewards from them.
The rewards are a mix of robes, staves, weapons, voices and custom modifiers for levels. Whether or not they’re all worth it we’ll let you decide, but our party tended to stick to the same gear that we unlocked fairly early on as the bonuses they gave were generally more useful for us. Unlocks only occur when you’ve personally completed all previous missions, so if you play as a group and one person misses a mission out, then they won’t get diddly for any subsequent missions.
The campaign is a fairly long nine chapters with a prologue/tutorial and it’s full of funny “bits” and that same pop culture parody that the last game was. It was fairly amusing the whole way through, especially with the added bonus of self-made “comedy gold” through friendly fire. There are also trials and challenges which add a little more to do and unlock, with the former being bespoke missions and the latter being a horde mode/wave defence.
Magicka 2 is best enjoyed with friends as we did and we enjoyed playing through the campaign, and attempts at the challenges and trials; playing solo is ill-advised but possible. It’s a much more user friendly and better looking version of the first game – funny, and offering plenty of secrets and unlocks. It still has a few a few issues to iron out but it’s a nice game to pass the time with as a group.