Magicka 2 is the sequel to the PC-exclusive Magicka, though despite the similarities to its predecessor, it also seems to take some influence from the side project, Wizard Wars. However, being a console gamer I didn’t really experience these previous titles, and as such I’m seeing them with fresh eyes. Magicka 2 was a collaborative effort between Pieces Interactive and Paradox Interactive, and fits snugly into a control pad environment, even if it does take some time to get used to all the freedom the game offers. Oh, and I can also confirm there are no Vampires at all in this game.
The game’s main campaign starts with Vlad (no, he’s not a blood sucking fiend) talking about the PC-only Wizard Wars. Pleasingly, this helps PS4 owners catch up with the storyline as this is the first time a Magicka game has been released on a Sony platform. The story involves the wizard locating the child of prophecy, preventing the evil Orcish hordes from getting there first. The campaign has three difficulty settings—the hardest being ‘Bananas’ mode—and is not recommended for new players, as even normal mode can be quite a struggle until you get used to the elemental system. The main campaign is on average 8-10 hours long depending on which mode you selected at the start, but the game has a lot of replay value as the chapters have unlockables.
Some of these are exclusive to certain difficulties too, so you will have to play it on the ‘Bananas’ mode if you wish to unlock everything. Magicka 2 covers a lot of different locations, each one feeling unique and having different environmental hazards to avoid or abuse; it’s also a rather pretty title, visually speaking. Later on if you do start to struggle you can equip new equipment such as staffs, swords and different robe types that will upgrade certain stats but decrease others. You can also change the colour of certain robes by unlocking them from the campaign.
You can invite up to three friends to join you on your campaign, which is a pretty nice feature, though with friendly-fire enabled things can get pretty chaotic at times. In addition to the main campaign, you can jump into the Challenge or Trial mode. Challenge has different modifiers that will give the enemy a slight advantage, and sees you having to survive 20 waves with foes becoming increasingly tougher with each wave—not to mention the fact friendly-fire is turned on. You can also make a custom match by selecting your own modifiers; these include increasing the amount of friendly-fire to selecting how much health the enemies have. Overall, there’s a plenty of room for choice and you have six different slots for how you wish to customize the match.
Elsewhere, you’ll have a familiar that follows you about, with gamers able to choose a different type to accompany them alongside a unique perk. For example, the Pit Manager increases elemental damage at random while the Murry will boost damage after kills. You also have your basic Fairy that is able to revive you, though all three minions have the ability to revive you given the chance. Those of you who wish to make things tougher can opt not to have a familiar at all, and there’s plenty of unlockables to hoover up too. Trial mode is unlocked by beating the different chapters in campaign mode, these are like the challenge mode though some of them involve fighting boss enemies or killing as fast as possible in a time trial arena.
The game has a very unique magic system in place, allowing you to stack different elements on your wizard such as basic elements like fire, earth, water and thunder. These can then be combined together to either add effects or cast more potent spells; one good combo I found is FFEFF. You also have shield, life, death and ice magic, which like the basic spells, can be combined together to make better versions of the basic spells—you will be using the shield spell a lot later on in the game. I find that ice is very good against most enemies as it will freeze them, especially if you use water beforehand, or utilize fire to melt the ice and inflict additional damage in the process. The amount of interaction with the environment is really cool with enemies getting wet when walking through water so you can zap them with your electricity or freeze them with Ice. It works both ways though, so be mindful. You can also cast your spells as an AoE effect round you; this includes the healing spell which will cure teammates but also heal the enemy. You can apply magic spells to your sword also which I didn’t use that much because the sword seems quite useless in most fights.
As you play through the game you will unlock spells for your quick bar. These can be accessed with the D-pad; the main one you will probably spam is the haste because your movement is just so overwhelming slow. These use something called focus, and you will have to wait for it to recharge before you can use them again. Each one has their own timer; certain robes and staffs will speed up or slow down the focus recharge. If you set the individual spells yourself though this will not use the focus, so unless it’s an emergency or if you have not remembered the combo yet it is always best to do it yourself instead of depending on the quick spell. I would love the ability to switch the D-pad feature to the touchpad as it’d be far easier to hit in a rush compared to moving over to the D-pad. In fact, Magicka has no touchpad support at all, though the developers did say they are thinking of things to add; one even joked about having a feature to feed your wizard different foods, mainly cheese to do different effects. A feature to add as paid DLC? I can only hope!
Overall, Magicka 2 is an enjoyable experience marred by slight issues, such as the enemy respawn rate—which seems all too frequent—and the fact your character moves so mind-numbingly slow. I found the game pretty hard when I first started playing with the game throwing a lot at you, but if you give it enough time it becomes a lot easier and all the more rewarding for it. Oh and there are no Vampires in the game at all—trust me on it.