Wizardry at its best!
Right now, you are most certainly not a Wizard of Legend. I’ll bet you’re not sporting a hooded robe for a start. Everyone knows a wizard never drops their hood to reveal their face too, and I’ll bet you’re as bare faced as they come. What’s that? You didn’t know that? Seems you’re in need of a little history lesson before you’re given access to your first spells.
Settle in, brace yourself and let The Contingent99 show you the punishing, but fair ways of the master spellcaster – this is Wizard of Legend.
That history lesson is your introduction to the world of Wizard of Legend, a trip through a museum full of exhibits alluding to the ways of the wizard and the Chaos Trials they must face. After a quick jaunt through the arcane exhibits you’ll find yourself dropped in at the deep end of wizard-ing, presented with a hub area full of shop owners offering up fresh moves, a rainbow’s assortment of robe colours with various stat buffs sewn into them, friendly NPCs with hints to offer on the battles you’re about to face, and a foreboding stone platform that serves as your teleporter to the Chaos Trails themselves. Once you’ve played with your move set, equipped a few enhancing trinkets and said a prayer for mercy it’s time to jump into that portal and face down your first challenger.
The level structure of Wizard of Legend is straight forward but stays fresh thanks to the game’s use of roguelike design. Starting in a central courtyard area, maps are generated with winding corridors and numerous traps scattered around to make sure you’re not just wandering with complete ease. Alongside all this are a selection of vendors of various stripes who offer new moves, upgrades for existing abilities, challenges or tempting but risky offers that might well cripple your wizard in some respect in order to boost them in another. And of course, there’s the boss room.
Each level concludes with a fight against one of a selection of sub-boss characters, enhanced versions of the archetypes presented by the more typical enemies – archers capable of filling half the screen with projectiles, knights with staunch defences and the ability to unleash crippling blows, and mages armed with seemingly sentient floating sentries.
There’s a balance to be struck at times when it comes to exploring, as the more enemies you destroy before taking on the boss, the stronger that boss will be. Combine that factor with occasions where health might be dangerously low and a potion may be a few coins from your grasp and the dilemma becomes clear. Is it worth risking a harder boss fight in order to get that money or should you chance a slightly weaker boss while perilously close to defeat? Risk versus reward has certainly tempted me to gamble and lose a few times, but when that little bit of extra health is what gets you through to the next stage, it’s hard not to be tempted.
If you can make it through two stages then you’ll meet one of a handful of unique boss characters. Each sports an elemental theme that will have flavoured the previous two sections you’ve played and form the basis for the boss’ move set. And what a horrifying and devastating selection of moves they have, each of the true bosses far out classing anything else you’ll have faced. As you might expect from a game that can claim the roguelike label, chances are you’re going to end up beaten down hard by these exponentially more difficult challengers and ultimately tasked with returning again and again until you’ve learned their attack patterns, mastered your own abilities and finally grasped the fundamental aspects of you wizardly ways.
With all these enemies to take on, it’s surely no surprise that combat is the core of the game and in that respect players are in for a tightly honed and balanced challenge as they attempt to find moves that work for them and tactics that can pull victory from sometimes utterly overwhelming circumstances.
As alluded to, there are a lot of distinct and diverse abilities for you to get your wizened wizard’s hands on. To kick things off, you’re given four moves – a close quarters slash attack, a snappy dodging dash, the power to unleash a torrent of fiery dragon spirits ahead of you and finally a Signature Move. Signature moves are you’re most powerful attack, the first of which is a medium range explosion that can completely nuke clumped up groups of enemies. What’s more, your wizard has a small combo meter of sorts that, when filled, gives you a huge boost in speed and a massive power boost to your signature move, augmenting that blast attack into a far more damaging and wide reaching assault. This move set is a great starting point, offering up a nice mix of range and speed, but if you’re anything like me and perhaps suffer a little from the need for fast reflexes in the heat of the moment then rest assured that there’s almost certainly a set of moves in the mix that will appeal far more.
For me it’s a combination of slow but powerful fist attacks, combined with magic that buffs the speed of my attacks , and set alongside an icy gust that sweeps out in front of my wizard before pulling enemies caught in its grasp into the crushing grasp of my earthen fists.
What you’re capable of really is up to you once you’ve played around with what’s on offer and unlocked a few skills; finding combinations of moves that compliment each other is quite an interesting aspect of the game all by itself. Throw in the fully featured local co-op multiplayer and there are even more synergies to find, with each player being able to take moves that compliment the other, pushing or pulling enemies into the hands of prepared partners. Or sabotaging them if you’re feeling cheeky, of course.
If there’s one thing that will cause people to struggle with Wizard of Legend – it’s the difficulty that such a tightly refined combat system offers. Honed and polished animations leave no room for mistakes and learning to finesse your input and avoid errors will be the major hurdle most have to jump before progress is made.
Right now, there are no difficulty options and as a result I can see some players bouncing off of Wizard of Legend before finding the fun that is most definitely there to be had. The one aspect I think is most punishing is that drop rates for health restoring items are very, very low and a lack of free health between levels can provoke a sense of futility, as scraping through a boss fight often leads to a quick and unsatisfying defeat when the next level begins. An option to play with higher drop rates, perhaps with achievements deactivated so as to maintain their sense of value, would be a welcome way to test out new moves and learn the fast, unrelenting attack patterns of the bosses.
Ultimately, Wizard of Legend is a sharp, satisfying and challenging action roguelike title with more than enough variety, difficulty and excellent execution to justify a purchase from anyone who takes pleasure from mastering magics, slickly side stepping hordes of enemies out for your blood and overcoming a fair but difficult challenge.
Wizard of Legend is available to buy now via the Humble Store.
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