Today I was supposed to do a review on Magicka, a comedy RPG from 2011 that I was surprised to see actually garnered quite a fanbase. The reason for that surprise is that I found the game to be riddled with bugs, even years after release, and the developers seem to have no intent to fix that. In fact, rather than assure a playable game, they instead developed tons of premium DLC. Oh boy…
First off, a little introduction: this game is about a group of wizards embarking on a quest to save the citizens of a fantasy land from monsters. The central appeal is that you map various magic spells to your keyboard and combine them on the fly to create even more devastating ones. Add in a chaotic multiplayer mode and it’s not that hard to see why this game had people excited. Personally I would have recommended Castle Crashers for a chaotic multiplayer game with lots of comedy, but there you go.
A few bugs might not seem like much of an issue, but we aren’t talking about a massive open-world game with infinite gameplay possibilities; this is a largely linear action-RPG where the mere act of moving seems to cause trouble. Here is a list of everything that went wrong for me in the first 15 minutes of the game:
- The tutorial required that I heal myself, but I had chosen a character that is immune to healing. This bugged out the tutorial and I couldn’t proceed without skipping it. This game was a little too complex to just jump into without proper explanation, so I had to start again.
- Finished the tutorial, walked through the door, and immediately fell through the floor into endless void. No way to get back (no snapping back into boundaries?) had to restart the whole chapter over again.
- Game didn’t check a checkpoint, so after I died I had to restart the game again.
- Game randomly opened up a window mid-gameplay that showed me all the extra stuff I could buy via Steam. I was in combat at the time.
- After finishing the first level the game opened up a black window with explanation on it. This could not be closed and the game continued to run even though I couldn’t see. Was killed by goblins.
On top of all that, this rather ugly-looking game from 2011 was trucking along at a sluggish 20fps and I had to play it in windowed mode at 640*480 to get another 10 out of it. This issue the developers actually addressed in a lengthy FAQ where they blame mobile GPU’s for the problem, citing they have less engineers to optimize the game than the likes of Crytek and Blizzard, so even if your system can run Wolfenstein: The New Order with no problems, it’s perfectly fine that Magicka goes at a snail’s pace.
In a disgusting attempt to make this sound pro-consumer, the developer argues that when the choice came between optimization and hiring people to design actual content, they chose for the latter. While an argument can be made for that, it kind of assumes you mean “free” content, as in on-going support. With more than $60 worth of DLC available, this is not a noble choice to provide your fans with more stuff, but a very ignoble one to harass them with premium extras without ever bothering to finish the base product.
Don’t buy Magicka. Even if it works for you, I urge you not to get it. For all its potential and despite its actual merits as a game, this is not an attitude we should be promoting.