Played on Windows
Also available on Linux, macOS, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.
I wasn’t sure of what to make of Wizard of Legend the first time I saw it. It reminded me a lot of Magicka, an overly complicated spell-casting game, and I wondered if Wizard of Legend would end up the same, a good game, but not one that really spoke to me. The good news is that in hindsight I realize how silly that comparison really is, aside from both characters being wizards, and casting “magic” in some form, there’s really not much to compare the games on. So what is Wizard of Legend really like?
This is the final Early Unlock of the Humble Monthly Bundle of January 2019. The previous two games, Just Cause 3 and Project Cars 2 have been reviewed, and now it’s Wizard of Legend’s turn.
Wizard of Legend started as a Kickstarter by Contingent99, and in the team’s own words it’s a fast-paced Dungeon Crawler with rogue-like elements. While that sounds nice and sanitized for Kickstarter, it does describe the game. The player runs around a dungeon, casting magic at enemies and dodging their attacks as much as possible.
Graphically, Wizard of Legend is a grid-based tile game which allows the player to explore a randomized dungeon. A lot of dungeon crawlers tend to have very similar layouts. Wizard of Legend actually has a well-developed engine that allows it to have unique feeling dungeons.
While each dungeon is created with the same building blocks, if you gave me a single room, I might be able to tell you multiple ways it could be used and which locations doors may appear on, but the randomization makes it so that I’m unable to even guess at pieces of the dungeon from the blocks.
The random levels are critical for rogue-lite games, but here it makes the graphics engine even that much more impressive. An engine that making a random layout look planned is challenging, but Contingent99 pulls it off. It also succeeds in making the dungeon feel brand new each time. There are obvious, small cheats, and a few too many dead ends, but the game doesn’t feel like it’s cookie cutter, even if there are small signs that it is.
The game flows fluidly as well, while the game uses pixel graphics it really doesn’t look like that as you play due to the high quality of the graphics. The animations are so well done that characters are able to throw magic with their spells and the game looks like it’s all planned out ahead of time.
The enemies look exceptionally well done as well, and just as fluid as the player. Most of the enemies do telegraph attacks to make the game fair to the play but outside of that they have an amazing level of detail and look great. There are four main bosses in the game and each one is incredibly well detailed for how small they appear on the screen.
Small but interesting looking. She looks even better in motion.
The story of Wizard of Legend is… strange. The game starts with the player appearing and walking through a museum dedicated to “The Chaos Trials”. This is the tutorial area and it starts describing the world of a Chaos Trial and the rules of it as well as giving the player examples of the magic from ye olden times. It’s an interesting setup, but when you reach the end of the tutorial area, as you can see in my First Look, you immediately are placed in the real Chaos Trial. It is done suddenly and really without a strong reason, the game isn’t very clear on why you are back in time or what or what you’re doing there, but you really only have one choice, conquer the trials.
While I won’t tell spoilers, I will say the end of the game only ruins any theories I had about the “story” of the game. Really, the story here is just a quick framing device for why you are at the tutorial museum and why you’re attempting the Chaos Trials, but really there’s no story here, similar to most rogue-lites.
Wizard of Legend is a game focused on dungeon crawling. Every game starts the same, the player is able to set up their current build, buying and equipping different items. The player can choose four spells, a relic, and an outfit. From there the player enters the randomized dungeons and sees how far he can get.
The spells in the game, called arcana, come from five different elements, fire, water, air, lightning, and earth. There are also different types of arcana, basic arcanas, dash arcanas, signature arcanas, and regular arcanas. Each arcana can be set to one of these four classes and come from one of the elements, and almost every arcana is different. Players are only allowed to carry one basic arcana and one dash arcana at any time, swapping out their current one for a replacement if they find a new arcana.
The signature arcana is a special arcana that can be charged up and used at a higher level if the player gains enough “magic power”, though signature arcanas not equipped as a signature arcana loses the charged ability but works the same otherwise. At the beginning of the game, the player can choose one of each type of arcana as their build. In the dungeon, they can find enhanced versions of their arcana, or brand new arcana, and much of the game is finding the right loadout for the approach they’re taking.
You’ll use multiple different elements in one attack, here we have air, water and lightning.
The five elements have weakness and strengths, perhaps surprising no one. Fire element hurts the air element, which hurts the earth element, which hurts the lightning element, which hurts the water element, which hurts the fire element again, making a large circle. The damage is only about a twenty percent increase or reduction, but this is something to consider. Only three of those elements are represented in the level, which is another piece to consider when planning your run.
Similar steps are needed for the outfit and relic. The player can only take a single outfit into battle but all of them besides the initial two cloaks have different effects. Wizard of Legend has a large number of relics in the game and, similarly, the player is able to take a single relic into battle as well, though the player will be able to find and buy other relics as they go.
It sounds complicated but after two or three games, the whole process becomes very mechanical. The player can just grab the current build they want to use and run the dungeon.
The dungeon itself is a dangerous place. Much of Wizard of Legend’s gameplay comes from the common idea that the player needs to avoid damage while causing damage to the enemy. Damage in Wizard of Legend doesn’t heal over time, so the player has to find other sources of healing, such as health drops, and potions that are sold in the store. Though both of these are somewhat rare or expensive.
The stores are an important part of Wizard of Legend so being able to avoid damage allows the player to spend their hard-earned and limited gold on other purchases, such as arcana and Relics that they chose. Sadly, one big issue I have with Wizard of Legend is that the stores are unhelpful. I could understand the stores trying to give players randomized loot, so they can’t just guess what each item does, but if you pick up the Dark Katana (3x critical rate on Melee attacks), it always does the same thing. The game doesn’t tell or show the player what each relic or arcana does until they buy it, and at that point, their money has already been spent. I ended up having a guide open on my Chromebook to avoid this, but it is a poor user experience.
Sadly I don’t know what Combo Gloves do off the top of my head. There’s the internet to tell me, or the game could show me.
Each level in Wizard of Legend ends with a mini-boss, the number of enemies left on the level seems to increase the difficulty or at least adds more enemies to the boss fight. Almost every mini-boss (and enemy) is based on a set pattern, so the player just has to practice pattern recognition. The same is true with the bosses, though there is more variety in their attacks.
Every game of Wizard of Legend starts with a 10 level dungeon. The first three levels are themed with ice, fire, or earth starting with two full levels with mini-bosses at the end, and then there is a boss encounter with the properly themed “council member” (Ice Queen Freya, Fire Empress Zeal, or Earth Lord Atlas) After the first three levels, you get a second set with one of the remaining two themes, and finally the last theme for the third set of levels, and then the final boss appears in the 10th level.
That sounds simple, but the game will throw a lot of challenge over the course of those 10 levels. While the game doesn’t have a large difficulty spike, the player still has to make intelligent choices and work on his build to keep pace with the game. If you enter the final bosses lair without spending any money in the game, you likely will be underpowered and find the fight more challenging than it needs to be. But if you want that challenge, you are more than welcome to it.
The one thing that makes this game work especially well is that the game only should take about 45 minutes to win. There’s not a huge amount of time invested in the game, and I’ve found in other similar games, the longer I invest in one run, the less likely I want to do a second run. This game feels a little shorter than Binding of Isaac and similar in length to Crypt of the Necrodancer, but it’s the proper length to encourage “one more try” out of the player.
Each level has a unique and different map and layout making each of the six full levels interesting.
The difficulty of the game does vary, but much of the difficulty is dependant on which build you take. If you take a poor item or a poor set of arcana, you might struggle, whereas if you take a set that has a good synergy you might succeed. Even just having one piece might not be enough, a good example is the vampire glasses which is my personal favorite relic and considered very powerful. I was lucky and picked it up in my first look, it was the first relic I got on that game and honestly, it might be the best starter.
But the arcana that you take with you is equally important. Vampire Glasses work based on giving 1 health point back per critical hit. So taking arcana that multi-hit is a massive benefit to that build. If you choose the vampire glasses and take strong single magic blasts, you’re going to have a harder run. The build you take is critical to this game, and it is an interesting mechanic.
However, as a mechanic, it also shows off one of the biggest flaws of Wizard of Legend. Much of the game is based on luck. To even get the vampire glasses or the arcana I carry with me, you’ll need to buy them, but the shops for the gear before the dungeon is just as random as the shops in the levels. What’s strange is there are a number of ways to refresh the shops so you can easily find the items you’re looking for, but if that’s the case, why even have a random shop? Why not allow the player to just choose exactly what they want to buy from a catalog?
In addition, the randomness will affect the main game as well. If you can’t find the right arcana for the build you’re going for, or the relics that support your build you will likely have more trouble. While money isn’t plentiful, you should be able to get at least one improvement per level, which is good, but if the items that appear don’t help your build, it won’t matter how much money you have.
The battles with the council members are very engaging, and challenging.
The difficulty is another point of contention for me. I have actually won Wizard of Legend and admittedly I haven’t won many other rogue-lites or roguelikes for that matter. Some builds are rather easy. The community around Wizard of Legend has created the idea of “hard mode” being a specific cloak that only allows a single hit or a device that increases the enemy’s difficulty and while both are good additions, Wizard of Legend is a bit easy for the genre.
It makes the game more accessible to new fans, but it also might turn off fans who want a very hard challenge. While the challenge exists in Wizard of Legend, it’s an option that the player has to manually choose to follow through on.
The developer appears to be readying another patch for the beginning of the next year, with plans to release an all-new area of the game, focused on the air element, likely having a new boss along with it, along with other semi-major additions and it’s a good list of changes from what I see.
Wizard of Legend is about all of this, and perhaps I’ve gone off and talked about things that many people might not need to know, but at its core, Wizard of Legend is about exploring the dungeon and the rooms in it, killing enemies efficiently, maintaining a powerful build, and taking down mini-bosses, council members and hopefully the council leader. If you win or lose, you end up in relatively the same place and then start over again. It’s simple but fun and executes well on the repetition of this type of game.
I award Wizard of Legend a
Final Thoughts: A solid but somewhat easy rogue-lite dungeon crawler where the player can cast a variety of spells and has a somewhat reasonable challenge. It’s a rogue-lite where the player can win.
Stats: 9.9 hours played 10/19 achievement earned.