While comparisons to Diablo are certain, they are also vastly unwarranted. Yes, you play from top down, yes, there are spells. However, a few similarities does not a Diablo clone make.
Magicka sets you up as a smallish wizard just trying to make his way through a generic fantasy world. “Generic fantasy world”, by the way, is how the game describes it and I would tend to agree. We may as well go ahead and say “Generic” seems to describe quite a bit of the game. The exception being the spell system; our little wizard can be quite crafty in that area.
Spells are created on the fly by combining two or more of the eight elements. Players can choose the elements they would like to combine by selecting them from a pop-up menu that lends itself more to an analog stick than a keyboard. Fire and Earth, as an example, would yield you a fire ball for quick decimation, but water and earth might get you some mud to use in a more tactical situation. This spell system goes a long way to making the game interesting for the short amount of time you will be playing. It is a very short game. Once you have the pattern of your favorite spell down, it becomes almost second nature. It actually feels a lot like pulling off a combo in a fighting game.
Co-op play with up to 4 wizards is allowed and encouraged, but keep in mind that they seem to be taking a page from Nintendo’s book of aggravation by allowing you to kill the other wizards in your group. On TV and, I’m sure, in play test this makes for hilarious back slapping action. In real life it makes you want to punch someone in the face. Perhaps you play better with others than I do, but just keep this in mind.
Magicka also prides itself on its humor. However, I find that most of the attempts at humor just fall flat or come up short. The game seems to scream at you “Hey, we don’t take ourselves seriously!” but it screams it so much and so often that I was desperately hoping there would be a few bits where the game would take itself seriously. At least that way I would not feel like I am being made fun of – by the game – for playing the game.
I know it sounds like I am bashing the game but I really don’t intend to. I just think it is what it claims to be; a very standard game. Outside of the spell system, it does not show us anything new or exciting. It does not look bad, but the graphics don’t make much of an impression either. There are parts of the game that can cause a chuckle but most of the time it struggles to even gain a smirk.
The multiplayer can be fun at time despite the annoying aspects, so I would suggest grabbing the game if you are looking for a quick gap filler. It’s not bad, it’s just not that good either.