Game review: Magicka 2 - a little less magical than the original

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 June, 2015, 6:45pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 June, 2015, 6:45pm

The original Magicka was a cult fantasy favourite: originally released in 2011, on its surface the top-down dungeon crawler game was a sneaky parody of genre tropes, developed by a group of smartass Swedish students and packed with Star Trek jokes and Zelda references.

Underneath all that lay a diverse action-adventure set-up, where a surprisingly robust spellcasting system allowed you to be an omnipotent mage if you so wished. Or, you could abuse your trial-and-error elemental abilities, concoct ridiculously nonsensical potions ("fire plus earth, equals flaming rocks!") and generally wreak havoc alongside a group of friends in its explosion-filled worlds.

That's a pretty apt description of Magicka 2 as well, and we're sorry to break it to those eagerly awaiting this follow-up for the PC and PS4: this isn't really a sequel. It's kind of like a remake, although there are references to the first game and a sense of an attempted follow-through. It's not really an add-on, although the additional levels may make it feel like nothing more.

What it is more than anything though, is a bit of a disappointment. While the graphics and UI have been improved, and the game amped up for a newer console generation, Magicka's sense of amusing wonder and discovery isn't on board.

That's especially the case when you tackle Magicka 2 alone - which we absolutely don't recommend. It punishes your ambition with a ridiculously high difficulty level, a path that leads from excitement to frustration to sheer boredom.

But thankfully, the co-op mode kicks in here: allowing up to four buddies to simultaneously create bizarre concoctions, you're given near-free rein to cause endless chaos in its multitude of levels and, of course, "accidentally" kill each other along the way. Fun and frivolous, no doubt, but not so far from the every-minute thrills of the initial game.

Magicka 2.0 would've been a better title for this supposed sequel, as it's not so much a continuation as it is a slight improvement. The mechanisms are there, all those fast-paced, gamer-geek kicks that made the first one so entertaining - but nothing keeps fresh four years on.

Here's hoping this one is just an attempt to widen the fan base, and the next go-around we'll see something really magical.

Magicka 2 (Paradox)