Hubbish bubbish, rhymes are rubbish, eye of newt and blah blah blah. Gosh, magic is a chore. If only we had a catalyst to... Oh, hello reader, what are you doing here? Well, as it happens, yes, you can help me out. Just stand over here while I scratch these runes around you. I’m trying to summon the 9 best magic spells in PC games, you see. Stand still, please. You won’t feel a thing.
Blood Storm - Divinity: Original Sin 2
Oh, me ankles are creaking, must be a storm coming. A blood storm. You know the kind, where torrential globs of mysterious blood fall from the sky like an ancient plague, causing massive damage to whoever they strike, and inflicting a crippling disease and necrotic flesh that reacts to healing spells by rotting even further. That’s climate change for you. One minute you are charging down a seemingly helpless mage, the next moment they do some funny business with a staff and then all the water around you turns to blood. We need a new Kyoto Protocol for this or something.
Toad - Final Fantasy
Sometimes called “frog”, this is a simple fairytale spell that turns the target into a bouncy, wet amphibian. It’s another one of those recurring habits of Final Fantasy, to suddenly transmogrify the player into a useless creature and laugh. In Final Fantasy IV there are some frogs in a moat, all of whom ribbit at you when you inspect them. Except for one, who just says: “What’s up?” The casual suggestion being that frog life is not so bad, once you get used to it.
Rat swarm - Dishonored
Yes, I am aware of the plague theme developing here. Frogs, rats, water into blood. It’s not my fault all the best spells are biblical. This one is a true Pied Piper of a spell, for the hungry rodents you summon are not your common pizza rat. They will chow down on any human flesh they come across in their grand tour of the ground floors. A horrific scampering mob that eats everything, including the boney bits, thus doubling up as both a method of murder and a slow but effective means of corpse disposal. Proof once again that videogames are at their best when you unleash rat chaos.
Scorch - Gwent
Straight-up immolates the most powerful unit on the battlefield. Poof, gone.
Mayhem - The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Quintessential spell of the anarchic trickster. Mayhem is some master-level magick that turns everybody within range into a furious brawler. Afflicted folks will drop whatever they're doing to attack the nearest person, and this rage will not abate for a full 60 seconds. That is more than enough time for a whole encampment of Imperial troops to wipe itself out through delirious in-fighting. Or you could always use the same chaotic spell to derail a critical peace conference.
Chameleon - Dark Souls 3
There are those who fear the invasion of a PvP player in fantasy die ‘em up Dark Souls the Third, and there are those who relish the opportunity for a game of hide and seek. Chameleon is a spell that turns you into an everyday object, something that belongs in your immediate surroundings. A pot, a chair, an inconspicuous statue. There is the familiar joy-tension of a game of prop hunt to be felt in the moments when your hunter strolls right past you, slashing all the furniture except for one that would turn immediately human once it is struck. Ha ha, look at that fool, ha ha ha. Oh no, he’s coming back.
Summon Deercoy - Noita
There is a lot of magic in Noita. But it's the Deercoy that stands out. It is simply a deer that attracts the ire of your enemies, do you see? But it also channels the chaotic amusement of the sheep from the Worms series. In other words, the deer explodes.
Branding - Middle-earth: Shadow Of Mordor
For our purposes, this constitutes a spell. How else should overpowering persuasion via the slapping of a hand on the cheekbone be categorised? It is magic, clearly. In Shadow Of Mordor, you recruit orcs to do your dark bidding by branding them with a glowy blue handprint. It is very useful and often funny, as the green-skinned murderfans who were once your sworn enemies become snivelling minions, out to big up their human chief.
High Bolide - Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen
High Bolide gets extra points for sounding the part. It is exactly how a stuffy academic mage would describe this spell. “Oh yes, the principles of High Bolide are contentious among the pan-geomancists,” they would say, bushy eyebrows growing over their spectacles like ivy vines. This spell, however, is better understood in laymens terms, as big fire rocks wot fall from the sky. Yes, it is a meteor summoning spell. It takes a full 20 seconds to cast. But look at that screenshake. Feel those impacts. Check out that world-destroying power. Excellent work, magic, you've done it again.
One Off The List from…
Last week we did a safari of the 9 weirdest animals in PC games. But you petitioned for one of these creatures to be put down. It’s… the Warper from Subnautica.
"The Warper is a biomachine specifically designed to be weird in order to cheat its way into that list," says animal unrights activist "Ethalis", accusing the malevolent being of being non-natural. "Why would the aliens that built them make them transparent if it was not the case? ...Did they really need to make them wear an organic purple cape that has no clear purpose? Did they really need two mouths when their primary way of attacking is their claws? If you allow Warpers to stay on this list, you’re basically just saying that you’re cool with cheating, and then who knows what will happen next."
You are right. I will not stand by and allow dangerous precedents to be made during my tenure as chief of the list goblins. Warpers off the list. See you next week, listists.