REVIEW: Wizard of Legend

Aug
05

REVIEW: Wizard of Legend

Wizard of Legend is an action-packed roguelike that takes a lot of inspiration from the beat-em-up genre, but unfortunately remains bland and repetitive throughout.

Steam: Released
Type: Single-player
Genre: Action, Roguelike
Developer: Contingent99
Publisher: Contingent99
Release date: 15 May, 2018

Enough action, but not enough of anything else.

I’ll be honest, I had a very hard time deciding on how to rate this game, and how to go about this review. On one hand, Wizard of Legend has so very many cool ideas, and together, those ideas sound like they should make a truly amazing product. Combine all of those gameplay concepts with the excellent pixel art and music, and the procedural nature of this sort of game, and it seemed like a surefire winner. However, it doesn’t matter how great the ideas are if the resulting game is as shallow as a puddle. Even worse when that puddle can hold the entirety of the game’s content.

Wizard of Legend drops you into the shoes (and cloak) of, well… a wizard, tasked with completing a series of dungeons that collectively serve as a sort of wizard trial. That about sums up the story, really… there’s a bit more to it, but as with many games in this genre, it’s really not that important and definitely not the focus of the game. If you’ve played procedural games before, you’re used to this. All you really need to know is you’re in a world of fantasy, magic, and explosions. You’re the wizard who will be the source of most of those explosions as you blast and zap your way through dungeons full of jerks that need a good clobbering. It’s a simple concept, but a good one that promises lots of action.  With that, the game delivers on this promise… it definitely serves up plenty of action-packed moments. You’ll be slinging spells left and right, dashing and dodging, and generally beating the cheese out of basically everything and everyone as you work your way to the end. Fortunately, the controls work very well… movement is tight, and you’ll have no trouble pulling off all of the wild spells that you’ll get over the course of your adventure. Well, the controls ALMOST work very well… the one big problem that the game has regarding the controls is the repetition of input, which is a nicer way of saying “button mashing”. Your basic attack, which will definitely be the one you most frequently use, will involve lots and lots of mashing of the associated button. If you’re prone to repetitive-motion issues, this could be a source for physical pain/problems for you, so be aware of that before jumping in. This is, though, the only issue I found with the way the game controls.

In addition to good controls, the game boasts a number of other features, which again, all sound excellent on paper. You’ve got an arsenal of spells to fling at your foes, and you can carry a whole bunch of them with you at once. Over the course of many runs you’ll unlock spells that you can then choose when you start a new run, and during each run you’ll find shops that allow you to buy others to use during that run only. Typical stuff, but it works out well enough. You also have a variety of items to find. You know the drill here… find/buy items and use them to build your character up during a run. Nothing particularly unique about that idea, sure, and that’s fine. And lastly is the combat, perhaps the main selling point of the game. Wizard of Legend may have many roguelike inspirations, but the actual gameplay takes after beat-em-ups more than anything. Most of the gameplay will consist of you clobbering foes, mostly using long and frankly rather simple combos often done at close range. When a fight starts, you typically are not able to advance further into the dungeon until you’ve defeated everything. Enemies tend to be pretty tanky, so expect to do lots and lots of magical punching to take them down. While you are very fast, your enemies are all typically rather slow, with big telegraphed attacks that tend to be simple in nature. And that’s honestly most of the experience… there’s very little going on other than combat. And therein lies the game’s core problem.

While the spell-slinging is fast, furious, and flashy, there honestly just isn’t that much to it. Firstly, there’s a major lack of content here. Roguelike-inspired games are usually known for having tons of content, which makes sense, as the procedural aspect of them leads to a naturally occurring repetitive nature. The more content there is to mix up, the less repetitive the game will feel, and the more replay value it will have for many players. Wizard of Legend unfortunately has an amazingly low amount of content. The threats you face, for instance. There are very, very few enemy types in the game, and many are just palette swaps of others to fit into the different elemental dungeons. And they’re pretty basic, too. You’ve got your stabby jerk with a lance, your fireball-tossing mage, archers that snipe at you, shadowy zombie things, and honestly not too much else. You’ll fight the same few enemies over and over and over, made worse by how generic and simple each of them tends to be. There’s nothing creative or unique about these guys whatsoever. And the dungeons themselves don’t fare much better. In fact, they fare worse. They’re all pretty much the same… palette swaps of each other, much like with the enemies. Branching corridors with random (and usually pointless) spike pits placed here and there, and the occasional large room that you’ll be sealed into to fight some baddies. The corridors are barren of anything interesting, being just lifeless tunnels that serve no purpose whatsoever other than to make each floor look like a maze. And the rooms themselves repeat OFTEN. The lack of variety in the dungeons themselves is honestly a little baffling, as is the sheer blandness of them. They are, for lack of a better word, boring. They aren’t interesting to explore, and they don’t have much of interest to find, either. Sure, you’ll find things like spell and item shops, and a couple of other special room types, but that’s really about it. And I tell ya, the spells and items didn’t fare too much better.

And here we come to the other part of the problem: The spells, and the items. There are quite a few of each… on paper, it seems like you’ve got a  huge variety of things to use here, which sounds like it should balance out the bland repetition of the dungeons and enemies. But in practice, this just doesn’t seem to be true. Sure, you’ve got all these crazy, flashy spells, but that’s all they really are: flashy. Most of the spells in the game feel interchangeable, as if your choices of which ones to use just honestly don’t matter much. You could carefully select a build, or you could just choose a blob of spells at random, it really doesn’t matter. Combos mindlessly flow no matter what your selection of spells happens to be at the time. And most spells don’t exactly do anything special. Sometimes you might get something like a status spell that charms your foes, or something like that, but for most spells it’s all damage, all the time, and usually in very basic ways. The spells LOOK interesting, but they don’t FEEL interesting. They end up seeming every bit as bland as the dungeons despite their wild, flashy nature. Yeah, they are fun to use, but the novelty wears off very fast due to how shallow they are overall. And items aren’t much better. I quickly found myself simply not really caring about the items in the game much. This is one of those games where the devs seem to have been a bit too careful and conservative when balancing items, as if they’re afraid of making anything at all OP, which is a problem that plagues this genre from time to time. You end up with tons of items that sound kinda interesting, but often have very light, almost unnoticeable effects. No matter what items I was grabbing, I never felt like any of them had any significant effect on my build. I would honestly forget that I even had any. It certainly didn’t get me interested in finding new ones or building my character.

Not that it matters too much in the end. Wizard of Legend is also lacking in one other key area: Challenge. This is a game of oddly low difficulty. Some players have reported reaching the end for the first time in just 2 hours, and after some time with the game, it’s easy to see why. Nothing puts up much of a fight here. Enemy attacks are slow and easy to dodge, and like alot of beat-em-ups, as long as you keep up the pressure against a given enemy, they’ll often not be able to attack you due to the hit-stun that makes combos possible. Combine that with the very low enemy variety, and the simplicity of enemy patterns, and yeah… it’s just not too difficult, and that difficulty barely increases over the course of the run. This goes for the smaller bosses as well, the ones you’ll fight at the end of most levels. There are very few such bosses, and they suffer all the same problems that enemies do. Now, the major bosses, the elemental leaders, are different. These powerful foes have huge, flashy, complicated attacks, and are where the game’s combat will really shine. However, these are few and far between, and again, there are very few of them. You’ll quickly learn their patterns, and they’ll stop being a threat soon enough. With such low difficulty, the spell and item choices you make matter that much less, and it doesn’t keep you very invested in the whole thing. It all just ends up feeling so… mindless.

I dont say this very often, but Wizard of Legend honestly feels like a game that’s still in early access with many months before release. It has so many great ideas, but it doesn’t have the content to show what those ideas can do. And what content it does have tends to be shallow and just not very interesting. Wizard of Legend is not actually a bad game, and some players definitely seem to get some real fun out of it. However flashy and exciting this one may look though… there are just so many other better entries in this genre to choose from. If the developers could somehow expand on this game it could really be made into something special. However, they’d have A LOT of work to do… right now, it’s a long way away from meeting the potential that it has. At the very least, wait for a sale before picking this one up. Or just get something else. It’s not bad, but it brings so little to the table that it is just not worth it, at least in it’s current state.

About Misery

I've been a gamer for my entire life, having been playing since the days of the Atari 2600 and DOS PCs. I'm a huge fan of shmups, roguelikes, and fighting games, and have a tendency to gravitate towards anything that promises to be brutally difficult. Having grown disillusioned with AAA games, I tend to stick to indie titles instead.

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