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The Best Magic Games of All Time
This article features games that have magic, or magic in disguise, for example character that have powers that aren't referred to as magic directly, but are clearly beyond normal mortal abilities. So magic that might occur naturally in a character, magic that is learned, powers that are obtained due to exposure to elements or conditions, or tech-assisted magic of some kind -- they are all featured here.
Clive Barker’s Undying
Patrick Galloway was once a soldier during the Great War, but after the war ended, and he barely survived an explosion caused by a supernatural source, he woke up in a hospital bed with a strange green stone around his neck.
His closest friend, Jeremiah Covenant, the one who saved him from certain death on the battlefield, claimed it was the Gel’zibar stone, and it posses magical properties of sorts, like being able to, in Patrick’s case, ward off enemies by pushing them away physically. Of course, wielding the stone for too long does have consequences, like summoning otherworldly demons who will attempt to attack you. Patrick finds this out first hand later on in the game.
Patrick was exiled from his homeland of Ireland after he was framed for the murder of a young woman by a fellow practicer of magic and acquaintance of the Covenant family, Otto Keisinger, who had his own motives for wanting to encroach onto the Covenant estate, namely a portal of sorts that took anyone to a mystical dimension known as Oneiros.
Galloway went as far as the orient, and became more versed in magic before his friend, Jeremiah summoned him back the estate in Ireland, with a mission – he was to track down Jeremiah’s siblings, most of which were presumed dead or missing for some time – indeed a great number of tragedies had befallen the family as they were seemingly cursed after performing a ritual on sacred ground on the nearby isle of standing stones in their youth.
Patrick is able to use not only the Gel’zibar stone, but is also able to scrye – an ability that allows him to see things, often that which cannot be seen with normal eyes in reality, or things that have occurred in the past. He also has access to powers he collects throughout the game in the form of scrolls, which give him the ability to summon lightning bolts, cast exploding skulls, form a protective shield around himself, and dispel other magic he might encounter, like forcefields and the like. He will also find pink amplifier stones which he can use to upgrade powers, making them more effective, and in addition to all of this, he can find arkane scrolls which allows Patrick’s mana to recharge quicker. The Gel’zibar stone can also be used to amplify spells, even beyond the highest tier.
Patrick can duel wield magic and weapons, and some can even be combined, like the spear gun and the lightning spell can be used to create lightning rod, making the speargun even more deadly.
Dark Messiah of Might and Magic
You take the role of Sareth, the apprentice of a powerful wizard named Phenrig. After years under his tutelage, running errands mostly for your master, you've become quite the force to reckoned with. However, it was never just down to training. You are the Dark Messiah, the child of Kha-Beleth, the demon sovereign, and throughout the game, you are able to upgrade your magical abilities, like being able to cast fire spells, lightning, use telekinesis to throw objects at people, or you can control their minds in order to make them fight eachother.
This is the older brother of Dark Messiah, and while the two are quite similar in atmosphere, and perhaps level design, Arx emphasises the use of magic more than Dark Messiah does, and it is a lot harder to achieve due to having to use gestures on the screen with the use of your mouse in order to achieve the desired effect. You have to find runes in the game that will give you more options as to what spells you can cast, and you generally have to combine these runes in the way of gestures in order to get some result.
Having said that, there is an immense feeling of satisfaction when you successfully use a spell to say do the most basic of things like light a torch. You can also store spells, by using gestures and saving them only to use a hotkey to activate them when you really need them.
It's not an easy game by any means, the combat being rather hard at times. You can of course supplement your magic by using swords, bows and arrows, and other weapons you find in the game. Melee combat is probably just as difficult to master however.
Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines
Taking the role of a fledgling vampire in modern day California, you are able to, at the beginning of the game, select which clan you want to be a part of. Depending on your choice, you will gain powers exclusive to that clan (although some are shared with other clans). One of the more powerful clans is the Tremere, or blood sorcerers as they are known to some other clans.
You can summon abilities like a blood shield which protects you from attacks, and you can drain blood from targets from a distance without having to physically be near them. You can also use your powers to kill enemies within a certain radius without alerting anyone to your presence, causing them to have sudden heart attacks. You can make enemies vomit blood to slow down their attacks
Other clans likes the Malkavians can become invisible to avoid detection, or use mind control on humans and perhaps even other vampires to gain compliance from them.
Requiem: Avenging Angel
You play the role of Gabriel, an Angel sent from Heaven to earth. To addition to being able to use weapons you find in the game, you can also employ the use of magic powers to aid you. These range from being able to resurrect fallen enemies to fight alongside you, to slowing down time in order to dodge bullets. You can also possess enemies and use them to pass by others without suspicion and use certain weapons that are otherwise unavailable to you.
Requiem isn't remembered much by the gaming community at large, but it introduces concepts to games that would only really become mainstream later on, like bullet time, which this game did before Max Payne or F.E.A.R. for instance.
Magic can be used in Diablo II depending on the class you use. I find the Druid to be one of the best, because he can summon creature spirits to fight alongside him, and can also use fiery boulders of hot magma and elemental spells to clear a path of enemies in front of him. Above all else, he can turn into a creature himself and attack foes.
Necromancers can raise the dead to fight alongside them and weaken enemies with curse spells. The sorceress is capable of elemental attacks as well as telekinesis and teleportation.
Even if your class isn't heavy on magic, you can still use scrolls you find in the game to help you cast things like healing spells and the like.
Garrett isn't a mage or a wizard himself, but throughout the game, he does use items or tools that have likely been made by wizards or obtained from pagan shamans.
The elemental arrows for instance, that Garrett uses to create patches of moss to quieten his footsteps, or fire arrows to detonate and injure enemies, or water arrows to put out torches and sconces, gas arrows to incapacitate foes. These are often found in pagan territory in the Thief games. Vine arrows are obtained in The Metal Age after Garrett temporarily sides with the pagans to combat the mechanists -- these are even said to be made by pagans to not only help Garrett climb up certain barriers in the game, but also to reclaim territory in the name of mother nature.
Garrett can also employ the use of health potions, slowfall potions, speed potions, and invisibility potions to help him in missions to avoid detection or evade guards or other enemies.
Another ability is the use of holy water to slay the undead.
In Thief Deadly Shadows, doorways can be marked with glyphs made by Keepers to indicate a space where Garrett can hide -- others are unable to see these areas.
Certainly, several enemy types in the game can use magic against Garrett, including mages
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
I think out of the series so far, Oblivion might have the best magic system. You can specialise in a number of different schools of magic, including conjuration, which often relies on the summoning of creatures, undead or otherworldly, often bordering on necromancy, which is outlawed in Cyrodiil at least, illusion, such as being able to turn invisible in order to avoid being seen by enemies, enchantment, being able to infuse every day items with magical abilities as well as invocation spells, like fire. You can also use telekinesis, which can prove very useful to reach objects that are otherwise out of your grasp.
Certain races are naturally better at magic than others. Bretons are one of them, and elven races, particularly Altmer are another, except Altmer, despite being incredibly gifted at magic, also have a very weak defence against it.
System Shock 2
System Shock 2 doesn't use magic in the more tradition sense. In the beginning of the game, you can select which branch of the military you want to join after completing basic training.
The OSA, or Office of Secret Actions emphasizes the ability to use your mind as a weapon with the use of a psi-amp. The psi-amp is a sphere like object that fits into your hand with a cable that is inserted into the wielder's arm. Then with the use of of psi points, you can use the psi-amp to do things like shoot balls of energy or fire and many other things.
Psi points have to be replenished by administering psi hypos which can be found or bought from vending machines throughout the Von Braun and Rickenbacker starships.
New psi-amp abilities can be bought from cyber upgrade stations with the use of cyber modules which you either find or receive by completing objectives during the game.
BioShock is quite similar to System Shock 2 in the way that you use Eve to regenerate what is otherwise known as mana in most games, and Adam is used to purchase new abilities or upgrade existing ones. These range from from offensive abilities like fire or lightning to more defensive capabilities, like setting traps for enemies that fling them into the air. One of the more bizarre abilities is the use of bees that attack enemies by stinging them.
Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast
Kyle Katarn, in this game, is a former jedi, who has since abandoned the old ways, but in order to aid him in the game, is does end up going back to the Jedi Temple, relearning force powers and of course getting his light saber back.
Powers range from lightning to force grip, force push and force pull among others, and Kyle has access to light and dark side force powers later in the game.
In the Mass Effect universe, you have a class system of sorts, and the one that is most prone to using a magic of sorts via the manipulation of element zero modules embedded in their bodies, is the Sentinal, also described as a biotic. Biotics are often dangerous, unpredictable and unbalanced people who either retreat from society, are solitary individuals, or they become enraged sociopathic types who aren't strangers to spending time in prison. They can show immense power, and commit acts of intense violence and destruction if provoked.
They can throw things, lift objects or people into the air, create protective barriers, generate gravitational forces, and even heal people if they feel inclined to do so.
Kaidan Alenko is such a person encountered in Mass Effect who Commander Shephard can even pursue a romantic relationship with. Jack, or Subject Zero, who is encountered in Mass Effect 2, also has biotic abilities.
All Asari, a species of alien, are naturally biotic from birth.
Ziggurat has been described as bringing the fast paced gameplay of something like Heretic to more modern titles like Devil Daggers. I felt the graphical style was somewhat reminiscent of something like Torchlight as well.
You play an apprentice looking to join the Daedalon Brotherhood, but in order to do so you need to survive the trails of Ziggurat, which is an otherworldly dimension of sorts that is a very treacherous place indeed, filled with danger as minions attack you in virtually every room you enter. You have to defend yourself with whatever weapons you can find, most of which rely on mana in order to use. Mana can be replaced by pickups that drop after killing minions or from wounding guardians or boss creatures.
You can also unlock upgrades, abilities as you play, clearing levels, and upgrade your character to have abilities such as raise their maximum health or mana. The game is a roguelike, so keep in mind that if you die, it's back to the beginning.
As part of a group of adventurers, Amadeus is a wizard who can conjure boxes to use as platforms or bridges to get across gaps and chasms. He can also use a telekinetic ability to lift items in the air and drop them on the heads of enemies. He can use fireballs to destroy enemies.
Magicka is quite interesting, as you can command a wizard who has control of elemental powers. Not only can they be scaled in intensity, but they can use these elemental powers together to create combined effects.
For example, the power of water and fire to create steam in order to burn people.
Some powers will naturally negate eachother or can be hazardous, like water and lightning shouldn't be mixed.
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