Magicka is a Deconstruction of the usual Sword and Sorcerer style of fantasy, especially ones where the Magically Inept Fighter Badass Normal characters hog the glory while the wizards stay back, keeping their magical powers vague and, therefore, useless to help save the day. Many stories either put the focus on the non-magical folk, like The Lord of the Rings and Conan the Barbarian,or work to make sure that the two can both pull their weight in Competitive Balance, like World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy, or Dungeons & Dragons (allegedly).
However, Magicka seems to have a theme of rejection of these principles, constantly.
- All of the background characters in the game are either Muggles or other wizards who either claim to be great and powerful, like the Headmaster, Old Master types who lounge around outside the school, grumbling about being bored while they send the inexperienced Cannon Fodder Player Character to do their work for them, or an Inept Mage, like Propp. They are all complete and utter morons.
- The Muggles are frequently Too Dumb to Live. The commoners either try to fight hopeless battles or run and hide from The Goomba, all while scoffing at you for being a wizard. All of the soldiers have aspirations of being a Badass Normal, running into literal meat-grinders while screaming references to Brave Heart. The King is constantly Stealing the Credit for your work, finishing off enemies you already defeated, pretending to be wise and powerful before the people,and flat-out manipulating you into doing more work for him before walking off-screen so you can't blast him to smithereens.
- Vlad, the Mentor Archetype, only occasionally helps you. He mostly just stays on the side-lines, offering advice, and when he does try to help you, he often winds up making the situation worse.
- Despite all of this, however, The Main Characters Do Everything, and that's frequently because they're the only ones who can. In fact, this game provides the page quote for It's Up to You.
- A single troll has invaded the barracks, and twenty-something Red Shirts are all trying to take it down.
- If the player just stands there and watches the battle unfold, they'll get treated to the sad sight of a massive group of normal people trying and failing to do anything to the regenerating monster. This creature can continue to take this abuse until the end of time. They NEED a wizard to do this, because without magic, they just don't have the firepower.
- However, unlike the usual set-up of Sword and Sorcerer set-up where the melee characters act as a Stone Wall so that the Squishy Wizard can obliterate the target, not only are the soldiers doing such little damage as to be no help, but they are actually a hindrance, as they are standing between the wizard, who can do this by himself so easily that the very next level features several trolls as standard enemies, and his target, resulting in lots of Friendly Fire, causing more fatalities than the troll ever could.
Another instance of this is at Havindr, when the soldiers are trying to blow up the doors to get inside the castle, and the easiest way to circumvent the timer is to simply cast a fire spell instead of waiting on the stupidly long fuse, or when right afterwards, the heroes are asked to cut a path through the enemy's defenses and wind up routing the entire army by themselves, annihilating hordes of goblins and orcs with bolts of divine retribution and waves of fire and giant, icy tesla-coils that explode with arcane energy.
And the monsters only get stronger from there.
This game is all about what happens when wizards have the Competitive Balance taken off and are given a game that's their size instead of scaling down so that the Magically Inept Fighter can keep up.And it is glorious.