Magicka: The Stars are Left review
Gaming’s spice rack is a scary thing. Is that FPS starting to taste a little bland? Add zombies. Need a little kick to your fantasy game? Try a dollop of Elder God, perhaps with a touch of cinnamon to help wash away the funny aftertaste of madness, seaweed, and the inevitable doom of all flesh.
Unfortunately, Magicka’s Lovecraft-themed DLC goes little further than adding a little of this extra flavouring. Your group of up to four wizards has accidentally woken the Big Calamari, and only copious amounts of fire bombs, lightning walls, ARSE mines and whatever else you can mix up with your trusty palette of elements are going to send him to bed without his supper. World of Lovecraft, if you will.
It turns out to be a very short battle against evil, and a very familiar one. The first chapter offers no Lovecraft elements at all, set on the wizards’ Scandinavian-style home turf. The second introduces some annoying cultists and sea monsters as you travel to the village of ‘Outsmouth’, but it’s only the final chapter in R’lyeh that really unleashes the horrors of the deep... along with a few mildly tricky puzzles to work through, and a seriously challenging battle with the Great Squiddy One himself, Cthulhu.
This DLC’s short length doesn’t however mean it’s an easy ride. While Magicka is always best as a fourplayer game, only the most experienced players should try going it alone. Some expansions take the gloves off early. This one sneers at the mere concept of wearing gloves, producing multi-wave arena fights and giant bosses right from the start. The one concession to solo players is a fairy companion recently patched into the game, giving you one free revive per checkpoint at the cost of being a tiresome parody of Navi from Ocarina of Time. She is what praying for death feels like.
In a full group, your quadrupled firepower, plus your ability to combine elements more easily and to revive downed comrades, makes things much smoother. Any reasonably experienced group should finish in a couple of hours, with only the last boss presenting a major difficulty spike. Helpfully, only the hosting player needs to own the DLC, with everyone else being able to just jump into their game.
Beyond the main campaign, you also get a couple of challenge maps – one with a tendency to break almost immediately – and a few new toys. An Investigator’s robe complete with adorable magnifying glass staff is available at the start, and a waterproof Cultist robe is a reward for completing the campaign. As for the new spells on offer, by far the coolest you’ll find is ‘Portal’. Guess what it does.
As a Lovecraft parody, The Stars are Left is a deeply underbaked adventure, even at this price, and only the most hardcore need apply to take it on in single-player. It’s not a bad way to get your gang of wizards together for another evening’s spell-slinging fun though, especially if you split the cost.
Underwhelming for its Lovecraft premise, but as another chance to enjoy Magicka’s crazy combat, it just about earns its keep.