Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Trying the Magicka Demo

I've been watching ArchmageMelek's Let's Play of Magicka for a while now, and it looked quite fun.  Then I looked on Steam and noticed it had a demo available.  One download and install later...

Playing through, it gives you the basic tutorial for each element and some basic ways to combine them, and sets you loose.  The meat of Magicka's spell system is experimentation.  You have eight different elements available, and can cast spells that use up to five of them.  What you use is up to you.  Certain elements will define certain characteristics of the spell you're going to get, and each has a priority level.  Learning those characteristics and priorities is a must.

For instance, Arcane by itself is a beam that causes an explosion when your target dies.  Combining Arcane with any other element makes a beam of that element.  Shield, as one might infer, makes a shield.  Combining it with another element makes a shield of that element.  Now what if you combine shield, arcane, and another element?

You get mines.  What those mines do depends on which element you conjure in along with it.  For instance, add fire, and they'll deal fire damage when they explode.  Add lightning, and they'll deal lightning damage.  You can actually add both, and go Shield-Arcane-Fire-Lightning, and get mines that deal both fire and lightning damage.

Each element also has an opposite, that it will cancel out.  For example, Arcane's opposite is Life, and oddly enough Shield's opposite is Shield.  There are also two advanced elements you can create by conjuring their component elements.  Steam is Fire and Water, and Ice is Cold and Water.  Since Lightning and Water are opposites, Steam is your way to douse enemies in the same spell that you use Lightning to damage them, giving you a nice damage boost.  If you get hit by Water or Steam, you'll become wet, and trying to conjure lightning will damage you.

Also, as you go through the game, you'll find books (some are hidden) that teach you special Magicks that you can cast.  In the demo, you can find Haste, Rain, and Nullify.  You're also flat-out given Revive even though multiplayer is locked in the demo.  The neat thing with these is you can use your scroll wheel to scroll through them, and the necessary elements for the Magick will appear below you, so if you forget one you can scroll through, find it, and then now you know what it is.  These are also cast with a separate button, so you can cast that combination of elements as a regular spell if you want to.

Haste makes you run faster, Rain makes it rain, which makes you and enemies wet, and Nullify cancels pretty much all active spell effects, like shields and mines.  There are plenty more in the full game.

I could go on, but you can already see that the spell system has a lot of depth to it.  So now I'll conclude this post by listing some of my favorite spells.  Note that you can conjure the elements in any order.

Steam-Steam-Lightning-Lightning-Arcane, staff cast - the highest damage beam in the game.  The Steam gets enemies wet, and then the Lightning can get its damage vs. wet foes bonus.

Steam-Steam-Shield-Lightning-Lightning, weapon cast - Creates a straight line of Steam that shocks enemies.  Enemies will be stunned, so it'll get a chance to do lots of damage.  Has a minimum range and can be used from behind a shield.

the above spell, staff cast - Same effect, but in an arc in front of you.  Great for using from behind a shield.  This spell is also decent when area cast, but it doesn't give you much room to move around in, so I'd advise not area casting it.

Shield-Water-Water-Ice-Ice, staff cast - Freezes enemies in an arc in front of you.  Great for getting a bit of space or buying time to conjure up something else.

Shield-Life, staff cast - Heal mines!  Lay some of these in an area, then advance forwards and get the attention of some enemies.  If you take a bit much damage in your fight, retreat to them and walk over them to get healed.  Also handy later in the game when undead show up...

Stone-Ice-Ice-Ice-Ice, charged staff cast - the most single hit damage in the game, can make bosses easy so long as you connect with it.  Kills pretty much any regular enemy in one hit.

Interesting ways to exploit game mechanics:

Ice-Lightning-Lightning-Lightning-Lightning-Fire, staff cast - This exploits how conjuring the elements for spells works to allow Water and Lightning in the same spell.  You basically "hide" the Water inside Ice, conjure up the Lightning, then "melt" the Ice with Fire to get the Water back.  The Water won't go away if you don't conjure any more elements.  You can also do this with Steam, by adding Cold later on in the spell.

Shield, area cast (so that it surrounds you), then repeatedly area cast Shield-Life - Not only does this boost the strength of your shield faster than mashing spacebar, but it also boosts the strength past the maximum.  Using this, you can leisurely deal with the foes that accumulate outside your shield.  If you notice the shield strength bar going down, spam the Shield-Life area cast some more.  To get rid of the shield, either use the Nullify magick if you have it (Arcane-Shield, spacebar), or simply cast another shield that intersects with it and both will disappear.

Random gameplay tips:

If you're wet and need to cast Lightning, normally you need to use Fire on yourself.  But that damages you...  So, combine some Life in there.  When you're wet, use Fire-Life and you'll dry yourself off and heal the damage in the same spell.

You can conjure elements and then walk to where you want to use the spell, but you'll walk really slowly.  Unless of course you Haste yourself (Lightning-Arcane-Fire, spacebar) before conjuring the elements.  Doing this lets you do hit and run with spells.

If you self-cast Shield, you won't be able to heal your actual health.  Self-casting Shield again will turn it off and let you heal yourself.  Combining a self-cast Shield with another element also lets you give yourself elemental resistances, which can come in handy when used strategically.

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