Well despite looking like an old school action RPG it really isn’t. There is nothing in the way of the normal loot of RPGs and your character has all the power you need to complete the game when you finish the tutorial, the only thing you pick up along the way are additional Magicks (more on these later) and replacements for your weapon and staff which add small bonuses but nothing really game changing compared to your awesome power.
There are two things that really stand out in Magicka, the combat system and the humour. The Magicka trailer embedded below shows you the sense of humour the developers have and it is found throughout the game in the form of Star Wars references (and references to loads of other geek stuff) over the top non player characters and the general plot.
The plot is a parody, there is no other way of looking at it. As I was playing it occurred to me that the plot in Magicka is, if you remove the tongue from the cheek, pretty much identical to every fantasy story since J. R. R. Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings and in my experience fantasy games seem to be even more clichéd than the books . It is even summed up for you by Vlad  at the very beginning:
-Grimnir is gone.
-Monsters roam the land.
-The king need your aid!
-I am Vlad, not a vampire.
-You must go to Havindr.
Without spoiling it all I can’t say a huge amount more about the plot and I don’t want to mention any of the specific references, but rest assured it is very funny throughout. One final thing I will say is that apart from the narration of the chapter introductions the whole game is subtitled, the spoken language being some sort of Norse sounding nonsense with English words thrown in every now and again. Not only is this a nice touch but I suspect it helped to get rid of the issue of terrible voice acting found in a lot of games, particularly ones that have been translated.
The other thing that really stands out about Magicka is the combat system. Rather than casting spells your character learns as the game progresses, as is usually the case in games like this, you have access to eight elements to combine as you will before casting them as a projectile, on your weapon, on yourself or in an area. Though some combinations of elements cancel each other out this leaves you with an impressive array of spells right from the start. There is one final way to cast spells, and these you do get more of as the game progresses, Magicks. These combinations are found in tomes throughout the game, some in your path and some hidden, and can only be cast after you have found them even if you know the combination . These Magicks have a wide variety of effects that are quite different from your normal spells such as resurrection of a party (fellowship?) member or causing a rainstorm. Sounds complicated? Well the tutorial walks you through it quite well, and after blowing yourself up a few times you will get the hang of it .
On release Magicka was very buggy, there have been a huge number of patches since and they were pushing them out at one a day in the first week. They have even released a free content patch which alludes to the fact that it was a mess on release. The multiplayer modes were by far the worse effected with disconnections, lag and crashes to the desktop common for the first few days after release. And for this reason I have mostly played the single player which, though mostly bug free, is not without it’s own problems.
In short this game does not know what it is trying to be. Let me explain. The gameplay does not work as well in single player, with it being alternately frustratingly difficult or far too easy, it has clearly been balanced for multiplayer. With your fast and frequent deaths dumping you back to a checkpoint it can quickly become frustrating (in multiplayer a friend can resurrect you in seconds, so it is only when you all die that there is a problem) this makes the single player game more difficult and discourages the experimentation that the game was all about, making you fall back to a small number of overpowered spells at which point it becomes all too easy. Don’t get me wrong, it is still fun, but I feel it could have been so much more.
This would not be a problem in it’s self as you would just say (like with Left 4 Dead) that the game is just about the multiplayer, but with the narrated story it is not really suitable for multiplayer either as people who have played it before will want to skip over the story and those who are new to the game or chapter will miss out on the brilliant humour as everyone else rushes ahead.
As I said, I have not spent a huge amount on the multiplayer modes, for this reason I asked Akardo to give his thoughts on the game.
While Magicka is a fantastically fun game by itself, it really comes into its own when it comes to multiplayer – where up to four people can join forces to root out sources of evil with their infamous negotiation skills.
I believe Anakin Skywalker uses the term “Aggressive Negotiations” in Episode II, this must be what he meant.
In multiplayer, there are two game modes: a simple co-op, and a challenge mode. The challenge mode is where you can have the most fun, as it’s simply you and friends, in an arena, fending off wave after wave (well, 20) of baddies.
When I played Multiplayer  I found the challenge mode most interesting as well. It gets around my problem of missing the plot by not having one.
Unfortunately, the co-op is just the single player campaign with some other bathrobe-heroes following you, and there are only two arenas. Since release there haven’t been many updates, save for the odd bug fix and some items and spells, the great game really needs more content, as it’s like portal – a great idea, but fell short in length.
I didn’t think that Portal was too short myself… Agreed on Magicka though. As the Challenge Arenas are the only part of the multiplayer you are likely to play regularly, it would have been good if there were a few more of them. I would have thrown in more creatures with elemental resistances myself as well to keep you on your toes.
Now most of the bugs have been fixed there is no reason not to buy Magicka, I know I have seemed harsh in this, but this is mainly because I can see several areas where, with the time and resources, it could have been much more. To get the most fun out of it you do need a few friends to play through the campaign with you, as on your own it is frustrating  and with random players on the internet you are likely to miss half the funnies that the developers have carefully put throughout. If you can play it together in the same room so much the better.
jon_hill987 & Akardo
 This is not the case with all fantasy games and definitely not the case with all fantasy books.
 Who isn’t a vampire.
 You cast elements as Magicks with a different button, you can still cast that combination normally by pressing one of the others.
 You will still continue to blow yourself up anyway.
 That is, when it didn’t crash
 Or too easy if you find the overpowered spells.