Monday, January 31, 2011

Game Review: Majicka (PC)

Majicka is a game with a fantastic concept. You play a wizard on your typical quest to save the world, rescue villages and kill scary monsters and bosses along the way. The entire game from achievements to dialogue to character names is made up of geek jokes. And I mean the entire game. You can't take more than a few steps without either laughing or shaking your head in disgust at the awfulness of it.

The list of achievements is the best way to show how funny or terrible their geek humor can be. For example: If you kill a villager named MacLeod, you get the "There can only be one" achievement. Or when you get to the end of a level where you are mainly killing goat monsters, you get the achievement "There is no goat level". Or how about the "RPG Much" achievement which involves completing all the side quests in the game...of which there is one. And after you complete it the lady complains about the exclamation mark above her head.

Navigation in this game is Diablo-esque where you click your mouse to lead your character around. It's a pretty simple trip from level to level--the side areas to unlock "hidden" spell books are very easy to find and the game pretty much leads you in a straight line from one area to the next with dialogue and jokes in between.

Where this game really shines, and where it caught my interest, is the battle system. You get 8 starter elements to cast spells with and you mix them together--like awesome mobile game Alchemy--to create new elements or spells. The spell books allow you to scroll through known combinations but if you happen to accidentally cast something awesome and remember the combo there isn't a limitation on having to find the books.

You can cast spells on yourself, push them out away from you, or cast on a friend (or enemy). The real gem of this game is experimenting with your spells. You can create a wall of flaming rocks around yourself by hitting earth, fire, shift, and right clicking to cast. You can create insane beams of energy by mixing lightning, arcane, and either fire or ice. Since fire and ice are opposites, this causes everything to explode when you cross the streams with another player. On the flip side, combining like elemental streams causes major damage to whatever you're aiming at.

Every element of the game is up to four player co-op, and you definitely want to bring a friend. For a cute indie game this game is not easy. That seems to be a trend lately with indie games. I wouldn't say it's necessarily hard but you'll definitely be defeated a few times, and you'll want to keep "revive" on standby.

Now for the bad: this game is incredibly glitchy. So much so that it is almost not worth playing at all. In just an hour of playing with one other person we had at least three instances where one or more of our characters either completely froze or just had one part of game play frozen (i.e. movement or spell casting). During one of the boss fights my game stopped entirely. They have released an update or two to fix some of these bugs and have a list of "known problems" but this amount of bugs is really inexcusable for an indie game that was likely produced with low overhead. I seriously hate when devs release unfinished games and then think it's OK as long as they release a billion patches afterward.

On that note, I can't recommend you buy this game for the $10 asking price. That doesn't seem like much, and it isn't for the finished version of this game. I definitely recommend downloading the demo, playing around with it, and then waiting for a Steam sale.

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