There's no question that Magicka is all about social gaming, without resorting to the simplistic presentation seen in Farmville and other "social" titles. Four players can control each of the four mages. But the game is also enjoyable in a single-player setting (albeit much harder, it seems). There's also the whole humor aspect, referencing numerous franchises like Lord of the Rings, World of Warcraft, Indiana Jones, and even Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Throw in the spell conjuring system (and the resulting affects on fellow players), and there's good reason why this game is selling so well.
"We always hoped it would [take off so quickly]" says Patrik Lasota, community manager for Arrowhead Game Studios (GS). "We believed in our game and we were pretty sure of its success, but then again, you never know if everyone else has the same taste as you do. We are pretty happy with how well received it was, and still is, in the community."
Lasota goes on to talk about the main inspirations behind the game, confirming previous assumptions about Monty Python and Star Wars. "The technical and graphical inspiration mostly came from games like Tekken, for the combinations, and Zelda: A Link to the Past, for the graphical style," he says, explaining the game's 'console' approach. "Much of the humor in the game is built upon references to other classical works, like Star Wars, Monty Python, and also older games, like Moonstone. I personally like to call this the kind of humor you get when you reach a critical mass of nerds, and as Anton, our lead programmer put it, 'all of us speak fluently in references.'"
I said that one of my personal favorite aspects about Magicka is the way it mocks the fantasy genre. It also feels somewhat "arcade-ish" in the way players are led from one point to the next until eventually encountering the boss at the end of the level. Yet, the game seems best suited for multiple players, despite its single-player campaign. I asked if multiplayer was the game's primary focus, with the single-player campaign serving as the secondary emphasis.
"From the beginning, multiplayer was already a big focus and we wanted it to be the kind of game that you could get your friends together to play for a while, maybe share some snacks, and simply have a good time," Lasota says. "But the game also needs to stand on its own as a single-player experience; not everyone is interested in playing games with others. We are confident that we achieved a good balance for it all."