I never played the first Magicka game, largely due to the fact that it was exclusive to PC and never saw a release on a PlayStation console, but luckily its sequel Magicka 2 has found its way onto the PS4. The game isn’t without its faults, and while it is still challenging and enjoyable, it is far from perfect. It’s extremely tough and can be difficult to get used to for first time players, but in the end the challenge is worth it, and as you learn the game mechanics you really start to appreciate what a wonderful job developer Pieces Interactive have done.
With a charming cartoon-like art style and some humorous dialogue, it’s hard not to love the aesthetic of Magicka 2, although whilst the dialogue was enjoyable throughout the game, it wasn’t enough to keep me engrossed in the story and I found myself waiting for cut scenes to be over so I could get back to obliterating my enemies, or at least trying to!
This game is extremely difficult as a solo experience and at times you may feel like stopping and putting the controller down. This improved once I got the hang of the game and started learning how to use spells more effectively, but there’s a chance it might turn some players off.
The game works much better when played with friends in co-op. This can be done either locally or online. The online works well and there was never any trouble finding a game or holding a connection. The main reason it became more enjoyable when playing with others is the way the enemies behave. If you are playing alone then you will likely end up being mobbed and combat can become difficult, whereas if you play with others, enemies will have other wizards to focus on and the combat becomes much more manageable.
The game controls like a twin-stick shooter, giving you a vast array of spells to use. The magic system in the game is difficult to get used to although it pays off in the end as you learn to combine spells in order to power-up your attacks. This makes the game feel very rewarding as you start to feel more powerful as the game progresses.
While the magic system is clever, it can also be daunting and can take quite a while until you will be able to use it effectively. It takes a lot of experimentation and is hit and miss for the most part, but once you get the hang of things it becomes much more rewarding and you develop into a much better player for it. Once you learn how to start making stronger spells it makes for a more enjoyable experience and helped keep me entertained as I blasted my way through the story mode.
The game features two modes, Adventure Mode and Challenge Mode. Adventure mode is the story which can be played with 1-4 players. It’s a standard quest which is full of humour and gave me a few laughs along the way, although I never became very invested in the story. Also disappointing was the length of the Adventure mode; it didn’t take very long to get through, despite some overly difficult segments.
Challenge mode is similar to a horde mode, where you must face waves of enemies which are extremely difficult to defeat. This mode is very difficult and even borders on frustrating when you are surrounded by enemies and can’t escape. Of the two I would say I found the Challenge mode to be much more entertaining. While it was initially extremely difficult and annoying, I eventually became more skilled and, in turn, felt rewarded for the time and effort I had put in.
One thing is for sure, Magicka 2 isn’t for everyone. At times I didn’t think it was for me, but after spending time with it, I began to appreciate what a charming and entertaining game it actually is. During single player the game is unnecessarily difficult, while it felt much more balanced and approachable online or when playing locally with friends.
If you enjoy simple twin stick combat and less challenging games, perhaps consider looking elsewhere. However, if you enjoy being challenged by the games you play and don’t mind spending time learning and mastering a complex magic system in order to get the best use out of what you’ve got, then Magicka 2 might be for you.
Dan O’Neill rating 7/10