Have You Played… Magicka?


Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

QFQFSAA + M2. I just made a double steam arcane double lightning beam, and now you’re dead. Oh, you were on my team? Crap.

Magicka does away with mana and cooldowns, allowing up to four wizards to cast spells as quickly as they can hammer on their keyboards. Eight letters correspond to eight different elements, which can be combined together and cast in different ways to create a bewildering array of spell effects.

The game launched with a campaign mode that was best enjoyed with a full complement of friends. That’s partly because of how many opportunities there were for clever team play, like combining beams together for devastating effect. Mostly, though, it’s because of the even greater opportunities for calamity if you get things slightly wrong: throw in the wrong element to help with your friend’s spell and it might explode in their face.

As great as the co-op was, I had the most fun in the PVP mode that got added later. The hours I spent with it paved the way for the many, many more hours I’d spend with Invoker in Dota 2, who uses a similar element combining system. Magicka came out in 2011, but as I sit here now I can still feel my fingers twitching towards the button combinations needed to cast my favourite spells.

SAFE + middle mouse button: I’ve got a shield protecting me from 3 different elements.

ARSE + Shift + M2: I’ve summoned freezing mines in a circle around me.

ASA + Spacebar: I’ve teleported out of that circle.

SRRQRS + Spacebar: I’ve summoned the grim reaper, and he’s heading for the nearest character with low health.

It’s me. I’m dead. Those last two were Magicks, special element combinations that have powerful, unique effects. You need to memorise them from a book, which makes you feel – just a little bit – like an actual real life wizard.


  1. cpt_freakout says:

    I played it with friends a few months ago and it was an utter and complete blast. Death is insignificant enough to not be a problem when your mates “accidentally” kill you, but it’s still a nuisance because somebody’s got to revive you. In other words, it’s incredibly fun to kill your friends while the game sets up these mad, chaotic fights for you, so you’re scrambling about everywhere just throwing spells like an idiot. One of the best co-op experiences I’ve had!

  2. Jalan says:

    Prefer it over the sequel. While the sequel did do some things well, it just didn’t leave me with the same sense of enjoyment I had with the first.

    • Zhiroc says:

      I dropped Magicka 2 pretty quickly. IMHO, it seemed to have been tuned for MP co-op, and some of the early fights were just way too chaotic for my tastes.

  3. montfalcon says:

    No, and I suspect I never will, simply because I do not have any friends who are interested in games, much less in PvP multiplayer games with me.

    • Zhiroc says:

      FYI, the original Magicka has a really fun single-player campaign. Never even touched the PvP part myself.

      • montfalcon says:

        Oh, in that case, I may well consider looking at it. All of the glowing coverage I have ever seen about it has raved about how much fun it is PvP and co-op with friends, so I had written it off as forever remaining inaccessible to little old me.

        • Jalan says:

          Chalk that up to the way the spell system works. It becomes unpredictable (the first few times playing) when multiple players enter the mix.

          The single player is quite alright though (just to second what’s already been mentioned). Initially I was a bit irritated with how the developers were handling their DLC, but once the DLC faucet finally shut off for the game I was able to get over that and just enjoy things.

  4. klops says:

    I have. Or Magicka 2? I really appreciated and enjoyed it in theory but in practice not so much. After the introductory part it was too hard for my (our?) liking, and since we never were to play it that much we changed to something easier pretty soon.

  5. PHPH says:

    This game became a lot more funny and a lot more frustrating after we discovered QFASA. It’s an indiscriminate lightning bolt strike that deals high damage to a single random target on the screen (probably favors enemies, but it doesn’t matter when you just spam it).

    This was a fantastic game. The sequel is fun too.

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      subdog says:

      That’s actually the spell that killed the game for me. Experimenting and doing combinations was fun, but once one of you figured that one spell out there was no reason to ever use anything else.

      • Sian says:

        See, that’s why I’m glad I don’t have this compulsion to play optimally. It’s way more fun using an ice shot/machine gun spell, so I use that. Or a steam-arcane-lightning sword. Or a meteor strike, or the Blue Screen of Death. I’ll never understand why people want to use the optimal way when there are more fun options, especially in games as silly as this.

        One of my favourite tactics was to summon a horde of elementals and imbue them with whatever element I fancied.

      • Asurmen says:

        I find this comment weird, as the go to no brain spell everyone used was the lightning energy beam, and not this one.

        • Nixitur says:

          “This one” is a magick, the Thunder Bolt which really is absurdly powerful as you can spam it as quickly as you can type “QFASA+Spacebar” and it does 5000 damage, more if they’re wearing armor and even more if they’re wet. You get it in Chapter 3. It prefers armored targets, targets that are larger and targets which are higher up.
          It’s far more dangerous to use in multiplayer, especially if a player is using one of the armored robes.

    • Sian says:

      It’s actually somewhat realistic lightning, that. It ignores the landscape, thankfully, and goes for the tallest target. Because most enemies are taller than you, it usually hits them, but try using it on a goblin when one of your friends is remotely in the vicinity.

      I think it might have a preference for stone walls conjured by the wizards, as I remember hitting those quite often too. Might be wrong, though.

  6. Nosebeggar says:

    Magicka is great, so is the sequel, but my friends could not be fucked to play through the whole thing with me. I love it but it’s way too chaotic for most people. It’s a game for a certain kind of person.

  7. rezardvareth says:

    I played it for the release day bugs. In 4p co-op, the random deaths were hilarious.

  8. MajorLag says:

    I played through it exactly once in coop. I’d be willing to try it again, since someone bought me a bunch of DLC, but that’d require having friends.

  9. eljueta says:

    I remember thinking that if it somehow had good controller support, it would be a blast in local MP. And the humor was very silly and very good.

  10. Nixitur says:

    I have played it a ton. Over 100 hours, in fact. Could never get much into the PvP mode, but going through the campaign with friends is always a blast.
    One of my go-to spells was QERAAA cast from your sword. It summons ice spikes which zap your enemies for massive damage. If you want, you can swap one A for an R for slightly less damage, but also slowing the enemies.
    Also, the most powerful beam is QFQFQFAS, but it lasts the shortest. The longest lasting steam lightning beam is QFASSS, but it does much less damage.

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    particlese says:

    I’ve only tried it in coop mode. I was having a jolly good time dicking around for a bit, but my buddy was more interested in making concerted progress learning spells and beating levels at the time (which I expect is also legitimately fun), and we probably would have had a better time of it had we played with more similar mindsets. We switched to some other game after about an hour, and I haven’t returned since. Same thing happened with Streets of Rogue and arguably Windward, the latter being significantly less chaotic.

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    Ninja Dodo says:

    I feel like I should give this game another chance. I kinda stopped playing the singleplayer campaign and I never tried the co-op.