Alec And John’s Thoughts On Magicka So Far

Are we... are we actually playing?

Something we rather want to do on Rock, Paper, Shotgun is write about Magicka. It’s one of those games, not a giant AAA mainstream release, but a small project that captured our attention. We’d been watching it from the corner of our eyes during development, and then Quintin fell completely in love with it when he previewed it last week. Our looks were forward. And then it was released.

It’s been a real shame to see what should have been one of those feel-good stories become something completely different. A tale of bugs and woe and disaster. One Paradox has responded to by offering all Magicka DLC as free until the end of the month. As they fight to patch it into something playable, we decided to take a look at the game in co-op between ourselves. Except for Quintin, who organised it then remembered he’d bought tickets for the opera or something. So Jim, Alec and John set forth to adventure.

Well, as you’ll note this is a conversation between Alec and John, because despite many efforts Jim was unable to get the game to even launch on two different computers. Not a great start. So Alec and John persisted, whittled down to two already. Nothing lasted very long. Once when we managed to get into a game John’s game just froze up. Another time in the middle of a Challenge John’s screen went black, and never came back. And a lot of the time was spent signing in and out of each other’s attempts to host games. But we got some glimpses. And shared some thoughts.

John: So, game of the year?

Alec: I’ll get back to you on that once it actually works. It’s aggravating – I can see the game underneath, this clever and cheerful thing, but I can’t get to it in more than short doses.

John: What have you managed to achieve with the game before our attempt tonight?

Alec: I’ve played through the tutorial mission about four thousand and thirty-eight times and the second and third missions about three times each.

John: Why would you want to play the tutorial so many times?!

Alec: I love being told how to walk left. It’s my favourite thing. This was a consequence of playing since beta, in fairness, and there were a couple of save-wipes as they pushed out new builds. I’ve played it enough to be starting to comprehend the magic a whole lot more than on initial forays – there’s a hell of a lot of strategy hidden inside this very cheery, casual looking thing.

John: Yes – there’s no question that somewhere, beneath the pain, there’s a really damned smart idea for a game. My experience has been one of finding that the single player really isn’t an option, as you get mobbed and then sent back to checkpoints many battles ago. And trying to get a game with Phill Cameron, but finding he was always stuck to the floor. But tonight. Tonight was going to be different. Tonight we… opened our ports.

Alec: a new level of intimacy. And lo, we did achieve about two-thirds of a level before you got nailed to the floor or the sky exploded or something.

John: Well, first of all we had to create three different servers. And try logging into each other’s.

Alec: There’s this issue we’ve had a few times, most recently with Elemental – how much do you forgive a severely broken game whose creators have pledged they’ll dedicate themselves to patching it? They’re doing it, and I believe they will, but they did put an unfinished game up for sale.

John: Which is particularly strange, since it was scheduled for March. No one was demanding it in January.

Alec: The critical thing is that it hasn’t put me off wanting to try again. I will keep checking back until I can play the game properly, because I do really like the game.

John: I’m at the point where I’m wanting someone else to tell me that it’s fixed before I’ll bother. Right, so say what that is. What is it that makes you really like it?

Alec: It’s about the organic learning. It requires you to pay attention and pick stuff up and be deeply tactical, but it isn’t that machine precision of StarCraft II. It’s a sort of mad science learning. What if I do this and this and ooh look what happened there. And it doesn’t tell me much of it; it waits for me to find out, so I can delight/horrify myself. Often the latter, as there are at least as many ways to messily destroy yourself as combine spells to victorious effect.

John: That’s what grabs me too. Stumbling upon a spell. Tonight was my first experience of co-op, eventually, and when we crossed the beams that was a similar moment of delight.

Alec: In my fond imaginings, we were all going to hop onto the server and share about half a dozen favourite spells each that the others didn’t know.

John: We’d all tip our heads back and laugh.

Alec: I think that can happen. But a) Quinns and Jim need to not flake and b) the game needs to be fixed.

John: Jim didn’t flake! QUINTIN, HOWEVER.

Alec: Let’s agree to fire him right now, and he won’t know until he reads this tomorrow.

John: We tried some of the challenge tonight, too. Now, while bugs still affected us, I think the problems were deeper there too.

Alec: Well, there were at least two things against us that weren’t necessarily the game’s fault
1) We’re not very good at it/games
2) It’s clearly designed for four players, not two

Alec: So we were overwhelmed and punished and got stroppy, as you would. But with a CRACK TEAM of area spells and ranged and heals and whatnot it could be great.

John: But that’s a giant issue too. Be designed for two players!

Alec: Yes, but it is the bonus mode rather than the main mode.

John: I still think the endless mobbing would grow tedious, even if you were adept at shaking them off.

Alec: Maybe they’ll patch in easier ones at some point. I do maintain we could be a lot better at it though. We’re still flailing.

John: Absolutely. I’m rubbish at it. But sadly the SP won’t let me practise to get better.

Alec: we’ll have to try again as a foursome, with you healing. OH NO WAIT.

John: Haha! Well, we’ll definitely come back to it. So, if you were to describe Magicka as a Magicka spell, what would it be a combination of?

Alec: It’d defintely be that one where you simultaneously heal and eletrocute yourself. And you?

John: It’s bugs + bugs + great ideas + bugs + exploding heads.

Alec: It’s unforgivable. But I’m prepared to forgive it later. Right, I must dash.

John: Bye!

Alec: [explodes messily]


  1. suibhne says:

    Do you mean “Alec and John” as a single entity? Because that’s what your apostrophe says. ;)

  2. Anonymous Coward says:

    After the second patch i had no more connection issues whatsoever! Also the people reporting the bugs are mainly playing it on hardware not recomended for the game!
    The only bugs i experience once in a while are that the scrollweheel-button doesnt work.. but thats only for one screen, as soon as i die or enter the next screen this is gone!
    I dont see why ppl complain about the busg so much! Seriously i have never seen a game less buggy mp wise in the last 3 years on release! But these devs are the only ones i ever seen to release 3 patches withing 3 days of release which completely fixed all the bugs… at least for me.

    I dont think you can get any more support for your purchased game! Seriously, this is 10 bucks, they give you all the support they can and u FUCKERS still complain.

    • Xocrates says:

      2 Notes:

      1) I don’t think the game missing files required to load a level is very hardware dependent

      2) the “It works on my machine so I don’t see what you lot are complaining about” doesn’t fly as a believable argument.

      That said, you’re overreacting badly. Despite the bugs the comments have been overwhelmingly positive, and we’re all very well aware on how good the support has been.

    • Anonymous Coward says:

      xocrates ur right, sorry, i was kinda pissed :D

    • Tom OBedlam says:

      I’m not sure if there’s an easy answer to this that I’m just not aware of, but is there a reason why, on my ancient mobility radeon x1400 256mb, I can play mass effect 2, dragon age, prototype and fallout 3, which I’m barely scratching the minimum requirements for, yet magicka won’t run. surely this is much less resource dependent?

  3. Quirk says:

    Didn’t run into any trouble in the first three chapters, but the fourth chapter gave me some fairly hefty slowdown. However, haste and walls of molten rock go a long way (E+D+F+F+F) when you’re lagging, particularly with the tree spirits from the Gnarled Staff.

    • Quirk says:

      hmm, think the slowdown may have been caused by quitting out of the chapter and then playing it again. Chapter 5 seems fine…

  4. realityflaw says:

    While I haven’t been able to successfully complete a game online (oh and I do try, I must, the possibilites compel me) the SP is (barring the rare setback) entirely playable for me, hard as crap, but playable. Also you can beat it fine solo, don’t give up so quickly. (I do have to mention the awful show stopper at the end of the really really hard boss fight that involves a MIND BATTLE! that had me literally howling in rage, but it was really easy to hotfix.)

    If you absolutely just can’t progress go back and get the Staff of Life and the m60, these two items along with arcane aoe spam, ice charged chain lightning, and the odd water beam then ice beam combo (which is super cheap vs bosses) will certainly carry anyone through solo.

    I’m replaying now on a harder difficulty via not getting the SoL/m60 and actually fighting the bosses instead of freezing them until they die.