Magicka demo impressions: sadly, it’s the little things that count

Update: Following a patch, Magicka now allows you to save and quit at checkpoints (previously, quitting in mid-level would lose your progress). I now own the full game.

 

After hearing about Magicka, a newly-released game, on the Quarter to Three forums, I was intrigued. After reading this writeup of the game, courtesy of Rock Paper Shotgun, I had to try its demo. After actually playing the demo… well, I’m glad I tried before I reached for my wallet.

 

The gameplay itself is, no pun intended, a blast. Think of it as a Lina Inverse simulator: the game is about fighting off hordes of goblins, trolls, and other nasties by tapping out different magic elements on your keyboard/gamepad to produce different spells. So tapping earth will fling rocks at your foes. Tapping earth and fire will lob a fireball. Lightning and fire together will jump from foe to foe and set them alight. Cold and arcane will produce a beam that freezes enemies in their tracks. Water will make enemies (or yourself!) more vulnerable to subsequent lightning magic… The devastation you can unleash is enormous, and the gameplay, as you mash the spellcasting buttons, is suitably frantic.

 

No, the problem is the technical package in which the gameplay is wrapped. You can’t just save anywhere you please. At least during the demo, the game isn’t as generous as I’d like with checkpoints, so I can clear out a room, die on the next room, and have to play the first room all over again. But that pales in comparison next to the fact that you can’t save midway through a level, exit, and resume where you left off. And we are not talking about five-minute levels here –30-40 minute sessions weren’t enough for me to finish the first level. You can remap the keyboard and gamepad controls, and return the keyboard to its default – but I haven’t yet seen any ability to return the gamepad to its default. And multiplayer, a major selling point of the game, reportedly doesn’t work.

 

I understand the developer and publisher are aware of the complaints. A patch has already been released, and more are on the way. That said, I was not encouraged to read, on the Steam forum:

 

“A save option can’t be added without some serious investement in coding time.

we’d much rather spend that time on fixes, more polish and other requested features.”

 

I hope Magicka’s developer will quickly tidy up its infuriating problems, because I want to fully enjoy its potential. ‘Til then, I’m saving my $10.

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6 Responses to Magicka demo impressions: sadly, it’s the little things that count

  1. Nick C says:

    considering purchasing, myself. thanks for the thoughts!

  2. Josh says:

    Having been playing the game now, I can safely say that your comments still ring true with the full release version after patching. Maybe the new DLC will bring in a handy save anywhere feature. For me personally though, I’m not too frustrated yet with having to restart from the beginning of the chapter everytime I die, it just gives a greater oppurtunity to hone my skills and be forced to get better ala ironmode style.

    • Peter says:

      Thanks for the update, Josh! I’m glad that it’s not a dealbreaker for you – I thought the core game mechanics were great. Still, I think I’ll keep holding off…

  3. LJ says:

    I agree, Peter. I have made it to the battle at the ship (with all the canonballs) in the demo and can’t get any farther (possibly due to mouse quality issues) and can’t save. It is a *huge* turn-off in terms of whether or not to buy the game. Which is a shame since I really need a good new game at the moment.

    • Peter Sahui says:

      To be fair, the developers have now fixed the saved game issue (in the full game – not sure if they patched the demo as well).

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