Magicka: The Stars Are Left: Lovecraft meets spellcraft

December 17, 2011

The team over at Arrowhead Studios has been rewarding faithful Magicka fans with regular DLC packs, from maps to equipment to a player-vs.-player arena. What made the original so fun, though, was the campaign, full of interesting set-pieces and ludicrous geek culture references, as well as the progression of finding more and better spells.

Now, they’ve delivered on a second story in Magicka: The Stars Are Left, and it has a clearly Lovecraftian bent. Yes, it’s largely a re-tread, and we mean that literally as you’ll be walking through the same areas you did last time. But with a few modifications, all-new enemies and a different plot, it feels new enough. It’s a good reason for those who jumped on the original early to come back to a game that has seen a lot of polish work and fun new content packs in the intervening time.

Where there’s a disconnect is when the new, Cthulhu-themed content sits right next to the vestigial references from the original game. With an expansion like this, we hoped that they’d go all-in with the theme, but it’s spread thin among what seem like the alternate lines from the original story that were left on the cutting room floor. It’s still funny. It’s not as funny, though, and it doesn’t have the bonus of being absolutely ludicrous like Magicka: Vietnam.

The main mechanic added to the expansion is a “zoom and enhance” function that allows you to examine objects. It’s funny the first few times, but it doesn’t actually show any extra detail and it just brings the camera in way too close for a while. When you’re playing local multiplayer (and, given the base game’s buggy debut, many fans like that experience), you just got three people to yell at you because they can’t see themselves on screen anymore.

That said, this is DLC, and it’s the best they’ve made. We’d be a bit miffed if this was supposed to be Magicka 2 or something, but recycled content is much more forgiveable here. The Stars Are Left did make us wonder one thing, though: if Arrowhead doesn’t want to become “that studio that made Magicka,” what’s next? A fresh concept with Arrowhead’s trademark absurdity is exactly what we need right now.

Pros: More Magicka, a new campaign to keep things interesting
Cons: Jokes don’t land quite as well in this second outing

Score: 4/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.