Review: Wizard of Legend

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I can imagine the prospect of making an arena-style game is very appealing to most developers, but there are pitfalls to consider. The advantage, obviously, is that limiting the scope of your game to basic chambers and waves of enemies makes the experience simpler to compose. But this also puts far, far more emphasis on the gameplay than if you had larger maps to explore or gubbins to collect. If your game is focused around combat then that combat has to be on point, and Wizard of Legend gets that. It gets the pace right, it gets the movement right, and it gets the powers right. But it does get a few things wrong, and they’re things that threaten to take you right out of the mystical arena if you can’t adjust to them.

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A simple visit to the museum of wizarding and arcana ends with your magic-attuned ass being shunted to the kingdom of Lanova, where the Council of Magic is holding the Chaos Trials. These are a series of tests for you to overcome with your magical prowess, if you seek the coveted title of Wizard of Legend. You do, of course, so it’s time to gear up with elemental spells, powerful relics, and spiffy cloaks to do battle against legions of shadowy knights, archers, and mages. If you can persevere against these voluminous forces, you’ll have the privilege of facing the three greatest masters of magic the world has ever known. And only by beating them, will you reach the reward you so single-mindedly seek.

Each run of Wizard of Legend starts in your home-away-from-home, stuffed full of magical talking furniture. Here you can swap spells, clothes, and relics before heading off to market to spend your collect crystals on new gear. From there it’s into another dungeon dive, facing ten levels of foes and bosses on your way to victory. Each level is a twisting knot of hallways and chambers with a boss to beat, and the more enemies you clear out the fewer of them there’ll be when you face the master of the maze. You’ll also find shops you can spend gold at for relics or spells good for just that run, as well as more eclectic stops for high-risk cursed items or pounding on enchanted pinatas.

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The structure of the game is a familiar dungeon dive, so it’s the magical combat that takes center stage here. Your wizard is no doddering Dumbledore, speeding around levels at a brisk pace and dashing about every second or two. You can easily outmaneuver your foes and pepper them with spells, whether they be your basic wind slashes or stone fists or electrical jolts, your bigger ice spears and fire flows on short cooldowns, or your signature spell that must be charged before clearing a squad. The key to success is making the most of your swift movement and precise controls to dodge attacks, push foes into pits, and make every magical strike hit exactly where it needs to.

The only problem is that it’s a pretty tall order, given the pace and balancing of the game. Wizard of Legend plays fast, giving you only fractions of a second to pick up on enemy tells and hazards. This isn’t too tough during fights with single foes but in big melees it’s easy to lose track of key indicators, ironically making regular enemies more dangerous than bosses. This is also because enemies take significant chunks out of your life with few ways to get it back, so most of your expirations will come from bleeding health over many battles instead of getting crushed by one. It can be frustrating, limping along until an end, and while falling low in health isn’t always the end of the world it puts undue stress on perfect play and avoiding damage over all else.

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I can pick a few more nits, like how expensive relics need to be bought before you can learn what they do, or how portals after big bosses can appear beneath you and whisk you away from your hard-earned rewards. But despite these gripes it’s a hard game to quit completely because of how good it feels to play. There’s over a hundred spells to wreck shop with, and zipping around as you lay down fire walls and ice tendrils remains compelling through the hardships. I’d love to see this combat carried over to a more expansive or better-balanced game, but what we have right now is nothing to sneeze at. For fast-paced magical combat this one is hard to beat, provided you can deal with a fair bit of irritation between fights.

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