If you can’t get enough hot wizarding action, then Magicka Vietnam - the latest DLC for “wizard sim” Magicka - will be a welcome addition to your collection. For those out of the loop, Magicka is a game for up to four players which features wild spell combinations, tongue-in-cheek humour and lots of death by “friendly fire”.
Vietnam adds two challenges to the game: a lengthy rescue mission, and a survival mission where you and up to three other conjurers fend off waves of Vietcong goblins. The survival add-on is the less imaginative – it’s the same set-up as the already available survival scenarios, with attackers flooding the area in increasing numbers and aggressively seeking your end.
Like those pre-existing scenarios, it suffers from a high barrier to entry and is a stiff challenge. The basic spells simply won’t cut it, and even in the very first wave you’ll find that you’ll need to act quickly and with powerful combinations of spells if you’re going to survive. This high difficulty does make it excellent for co-op, and four players with dedicated roles will find great satisfaction in overcoming the horde.
The rescue mission emanates the same charm that permeated the main Magicka campaign. This time around, the humour relies heavily on the ridiculous fantasy-world-meets-Vietnam-War scenario. Enemies wear Vietcong uniforms, and you and your fellow mages also have the option to dress in fatigues and to equip AK-47s in place of swords. There are also a couple of new setting-appropriate spell combinations, such as a napalm strike. Like the survival scenario, the difficulty is high – while single players will likely find this frustrating, co-op – again – will benefit from it.
While the game definitely is still charming and fun, I did feel there to be a slight inappropriateness in this kind of parody of the Vietnam War. To poke fun at a conflict which is still relatively fresh in people’s minds raises the question of whether it’s in good taste. While it’s clearly not looking to intentionally upset or spark controversy, it’s something that may not sit right with everyone.
Nevertheless, Magicka Vietnam offers more excellent magic-wielding action in a completely new and unique setting. It’s a shame that it only adds two challenges, and the unarguable focus on multiplayer co-op makes it hard to recommend to solo players, but if you do have a few friends to hand you’ll have a blast.