Wizard of Legend
Wizard of Legend is a no-nonsense, action-packed take on wizardry that emphasizes precise movements and smart comboing of spells in a rogue-like dungeon crawler that features over a hundred unique spells and relics!
-Fast paced spell slinging combat
-Use powerful spell combinations to destroy your enemies
-Procedurally generated levels mean a new challenge every time
-Over 100 unique spells and items to fit your playstyle
-Local multiplayer allows you to play with or against a friend
-Full gamepad and controller support
May 15, 2018
PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Wizard of Legend launched as a Kickstarter project late June 2016. Reaching 3000 backers in just 30 days. The game would come into fruition through the labor of the two-man team of Bundy Kim and Dahoon Lee, who sought to produce a game that reminded them of action/adventure games from the SNES days. WIzard of Legend enters a competitive industry looking to appeal to fans of roguelite, and I am pleased to say that if one is willing to invest the time, it can shine.
Wizard of Legend features cartoon violence. When an asset takes damage, it flashes, disappearing when its hit points are depleted. The player’s avatar merely passes out face-down.
Overall, I would rate this game “H,” for Harry Potter—if Harry Potter is safe, then so is this game. After all, it is all about spell flinging, pure and simple. There is some explanation as to how all of this arcane activity is possible, but none of it is of nefarious intent.
Wizard of Legend begins inside of a museum that doubles as both the game’s exposition and also its tutorial. I will not necessarily recommend blazing through this area as fast as possible without paying attention to the information, but I will say that it might be more effective to actually play the game, then return via the magic mirror in the hub house, and read through the tutorial again. The problem with this area is that it is heavily front-loaded with reading, expressing concepts detailing concepts that will at first feel abstract. Of course, readers will have the benefit of this review to make sense of things.
Every year, wizards from all around visit the city of Lanova to compete in the Chaos Trials, a
series of tests dungeon crawl designed by the Council of Magic to test the might of those who wish to earn the title, “Wizard of Legend.” To do this, players must tame the Chaos Trials by beginning with four basic arcana (spells) based upon the five elements of earth, wind, fire, earth, and water, and accumulating additional arcana and runes on the path to victory. Among my starting arcana were a wind-based melee attack spell attack, a wind based evasion spell, a fire-based special spell that reminds me of Goku’s Dragon Fist, and a fireball for what is called the signature arcana.
Gameplay involves arriving at a procedurally-generated dungeon whose elemental theme is based upon the randomly-chosen council member presiding as the boss encounter after clearing two floors. Each floor contains three also randomly-generated merchants, a variety of enemies, and a randomly-generated mini boss, who upon defeat, drops a chest filled with random items. In Wizard of Legend random rules…literally.
Rooms oftentimes, but not always, close during enemy encounters to heighten tension. The fundamental properties of gameplay dictate that one might begin an enemy encounter using a special and signature arcana to open, and then proceed further with the melee attack while those spells are on cooldown. After chaining enough hits, the a blue meter will fill up, begin to flash, and then rapidly decay. During this time, the player’s wizard gains a really cool after-image effect. This signals that the signature arcana is fully charged, and should be unleashed before the meter depletes. A fully charged signature arcana is the strongest spell that players can cast, and while the starting fireball is merely good, here are some exciting screen-filling heavy-hitters out there.
One may accumulate gold, which can only be exchanged with the merchants found within the labyrinth. Players can also find chaos gems (they look like rupees) that can be saved between runs, and are used to purchase relics (a fancy name for items) arcana, and outfits. A key difference is that relics and arcana purchased within the chaos trials are lost should one suffer a defeat. If these things are purchased with chaos gems from the hub world, they are permanent. There are exceptions to this, I have noticed, particularly with finding new signature spells that stay with me even after I lose, but I am unsure as to what the conditions for said exceptions are.
I have to confess that while I had an advance copy of the game, the majority of the hours spent playing Wizard of Legend were spent in frustration. The game is a hard roguelite, not in a Binding of Isaac way where you can find a game-breaking item or two among the trash and proceed to bulldoze the game, or in Rogue Legacy style, where one can grind until a strong character full of upgrades gets rolled. Wizard of Legend. No matter how many relics, arcana, or outfits discovered or purchased, players always begin with one relic, one outfit, and four spells. It is not possible, to my knowledge, to begin the game with more than one special or signature spell, or two relics. Additional accoutrements must be earned in the dungeons.
Those dungeons do not play nice. Enemies are designed to be aggressive and challenging. Even well versed in the game, I would sometimes die to a pikeman knight whose range exceeded my basic wind gusts, an enemy rogue whose attack was faster than my rock fists; I would get ganged up upon by these shadow-like creatures who place my arcana on cooldown before I use them, and one mini-boss rapidly jabbed with his lance, taking somewhere in the area of 50% of my health! Healing opportunities are rare in Wizard of Legend, meaning that during some runs, suffering needless damage in the first map could mean certain death in the third.
For the first seven days or so that I played Wizard of Legend, I struggled mightily, sometimes not even making it to the second map, and only having seen a boss once—the fire priestess made short work of me, indeed! Adding to the fact that arcana and relics lack descriptions to “encourage” experimentation and memorization, most of the merchants ask for sacrifices of said arcana and relics—or health(!)— in exchange for an item that might not even be useful, Wizard of Legend has a steep learning curve for a game that fashions itself as a specialized beat-em-up as much as it is an ARPG.
I gave this game one last shot just yesterday before I began to write the review, and suddenly, everything clicked! I managed to find a base arcana of fire fists, a chain lightning special, and a homing fireball signature spell. I purchased a Midas glove from a vendor in the hub world, because out of the 48 or so possible relics in the game, I have yet to find one whose perks exceed that of extra gold while in the dungeons, which is used to purchased more arcana and relics. Armed with the maximum of six spells, almost two full rows of relics, and enough gold to spare so that I can buy health when I can find the correct merchant, I was almost able to beat the game, falling just short at the last (earth) boss. Though I finally look forward to playing the game to actually succeed, wielding maximum power, and starting over as a weakling is humbling, and humility suppresses this desire to play again.
Even after my penultimate success, I would still say that the game’s difficulty curve is discouraging. While wikis will pop up to let players know what to spend their gold on, or what cursed items to take from the shady merchant, or what the best cloaks are to purchase, I would have preferred pre-purchase descriptions over trial-and-error.Then again, with only three council bosses, the challenge extends the game’s length, so this might be an intentional design flaw.
Playing on my 60” plasma (yes, I will ride out plasma until OLED ceases to cost an organ donation) is not exactly pleasant due to the sprite-based artwork. I would recommend playing the Switch in handheld mode, as its resolution is perfect for a title of this type. However, for two-player couch play—one joycon per player—the television will be preferred. Arcana animations are the highlight of the game, especially the effects of the signature spells from both players and bosses. The whimsical and adventurous music playing in the background—one tune per element—maintains the …magical…charm of the game. Still, this is not quite Mages of Mystralia.
Once players get the ball rolling with Wizard of Legend in he form of finding an arcana or relic combination that yields results during most runs, I can see the players potentially spending a lot of time with this game. I think most will gain extra mileage through the two player co-op as well as versus mode. As for me, I am going to return to the Chaos Trials until I emerge a Wizard of Legend.
Review key generously provided by Humble Bundle.
+ Cool spell fx
+ Charming music
+ Lots of options for experimentation
- Balance is uneven
- Loading times are PS1-era long
- Roguelike difficulty can be discouraging