Playing the game single player, while fun, is also a bit frustrating. This comes from a checkpoint system that sometimes sets you back a dozen battles with enemies. When you combine that with the easy nature of screwing up and accidentally killing yourself - seriously, self casting with the middle mouse button is a bad idea - the single player just isn’t as rewarding as the co-op. There were sections in single player where I spent almost an hour trying to beat while in co-op we were able to pass it no problem.
So it should be clear by now that co-op in Magicka is where its at, and thanks to no death penalty and an easy revive system, the game almost encourages you to experiment. Just as you can combine your own elements into spells, players can combine their spells between players for some devastating damage and effect. One of my favorites is to have one player combine water and earth and cast it into a projectile at the enemy while another uses lightning to dispatch of the soaking groups of enemies. You’ll need to be careful though, if your character gets wet (as evident by the drops coming off your character) you won’t be able to cast any spell that has lightning in it - namely resurrect. The solution is simple, cast fire on yourself and you’ll steam off that water in no time flat.
Its this management of the elements that does add some complexity to the game and it can be daunting for new players, after a few hours though it’ll become second nature. Magicka is not only a ton of fun in co-op, it’s also very co-op friendly. You can play locally on the same PC with up to four people just by plugging in some Xbox 360 controllers and you can mix and match local and online play as well. While you can’t drop into a game in the middle of it, you can drop out and not break the session.
Magicka was not without its difficulties when it launched, there were numerous bugs and issues people ran into, but the team at Arrowhead have been committed to providing patches almost daily. For the most part the game has been stable for me with only half a dozen drops or issues in almost 20 hours of play.
Apart from the standard adventure/story mode the game also has a co-op survival mode and a versus mode. The co-op survival is a great ton of a fun and is perfect for just killing time or experimenting with spells. There’s a lot of value here in Magicka and while I would still recommend the game if you only plan on playing alone, its easy to see that this is an affair designed for co-op. If you can look past the few nagging issues, you shouldn’t have a problem seeing Magicka becoming a cult classic.
The Co-Op Experience: Four player co-op is available in all game modes and types including a story mode and an unlockable survival mode. While you can't drop in to a game, you can drop out and not break the session if you aren't the host.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.