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August 2022

Wizard of Legend

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: RPG/Action
Publisher: Humble Bundle
Developer: Contingent99
Release Date: May 15, 2018


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PC Review - 'Wizard of Legend'

by Cody Medellin on Dec. 3, 2018 @ 1:00 a.m. PST

Wizard of Legend is a fast-paced, 2D dungeon-crawler where you assume the role of a powerful wizard on his quest for fame and glory!

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One can't escape the roguelike genre nowadays, especially in the indie games space. The PC has the lion's share of these, and there's no sign of the influx slowing down. Dungeon-crawlers are also falling into that same boat, so much so that the prospect of combining both genres isn't as exciting as it used to be. When faced with that obstacle, it already seems like the odds are against Wizard of Legend getting noticed, since no new gimmick drives the game. Fortunately, Wizard of Legend stands out by simply being good.

You play the role of a nameless, costume-wearing fan who's visiting a new museum dedicated to magic. The museum's exhibits revolve around the Chaos Trials, a series of tests that budding apprentices must pass to become full-fledged wizards. As you look at the artifacts and participate in mock versions of spellcasting and fighting, you come across a mystical artifact that suddenly glows with power. After a deluge of bright light, you're transported to the grand era of magic, where you've been entered in the Chaos Trials. You set out to complete them and become a true wizard, hopefully with the ability to return to your time period in the process.

Presented in a top-down viewpoint, Wizard of Legend has you going through a total of 10 levels. Each set of three levels is split into one of three environment types (earth, ice, fire), complete with minibosses before you take on the head wizard of the trials. By default, you're equipped with a dash for a burst of speed and the ability to get over chasms as well as a basic air attack that acts as a melee attack, since it cuts through enemies like a sword. You're also equipped with two other powerful elemental spells of your choice, like summoning fire dragons, ice daggers, etc., that cause damage but have a cooldown meter. They're powerful, but their abilities are amplified if you attack enemies long enough to fill up a special power meter. Aside from your magic spells, you can carry around an artifact that grants bonus powers, and your outfit can augment both your health and movement speed, depending on which robes you're wearing.

As in any good dungeon-crawler, there are various shops in the labyrinths. Some of the basic shops have new spells and items to replace the ones you've used. There's also one shop that gives you cursed items in case you want to make things tougher. The more interesting shops let you give up a spell for things like increased health via pick-ups or the chance to get a random new spell if luck favors you. Finally, there's one shop that's simply a piƱata that refuses to break open unless you unleash a combo on it.

What makes the combat stand out is how speedy and responsive everything is. Your character moves quickly, and the cooldowns for most spells are short, so you don't wait forever between attacks. The areas where the fighting occurs are small, so every battle has a sense of urgency. Since the spells are all tied to face and shoulder buttons, dishing out multiple attacks at a time is easy. The mechanics bring nothing new to the genre, but they feel solid enough that few will care about the lack of innovation.

The roguelike elements make themselves known almost immediately. You only have one life for your run, and each run is randomized, from the shops to the enemies to the dungeon layouts. Even the biomes and their related bosses occur in a random order. Like any roguelike, death means losing the items and spells you bought in the dungeon as well as all of your gold. The gems are the only thing that you can carry over from run to run, which is good since that's what you use to unlock new items and spells.

Of course, the high difficulty level is also present from the start. It isn't so much that the game throws a significant number of enemies at you at once, but the monster attacks occur at staggered times. Sometimes, you'll get them to appear one after the other, creating a rhythm to the dashing before you finally get a chance to attack. Other times, the tells are shorter, and the attacks are sporadic, making it so that you can't help but get hit. The enemies themselves have decent hit points, and like many action games nowadays, you'll get punished if you try to button-mash through the fights.

The key to beating Wizard of Legend is a combination of finding the right spells for your play style and getting better at reading the game. The latter takes some practice, since you'll try to read so many tells at once, but the former can be tougher to master since the game gives you over 150 items and spells to peruse, giving you an astronomical number of combinations. It would've been nice if the game helped you out a bit as far as providing a description of each artifact and spell before you purchase them. You can glean what each item does by the name, but you have no idea how it functions until you purchase it and use it. You won't even know which slot it fills, so you can accidentally buy a different dash attack instead of a newer secondary attack spell. Thus, it falls on you to take notes of what you got in dungeons so you know what you really want to buy in the main stores. It doesn't break the game, but it can be a noticeable nuisance.

While the solo campaign is fun, it's the co-op that makes the game shine. It's local co-op only, but the game gives you the chance to play through the campaign again with another wizard in tow. The difficulty scales a bit when you have a second player present, but the already high difficulty means that few will immediately notice the increase. Thankfully, the game doesn't make things impossible for players, since friendly fire is off. Thanks to the other mechanics already built into the game, co-op is the best way to play the title, and it's a much better way to play with a friend than the versus mode, which is a nice novelty but not something you'll play more than once.

The presentation is very familiar in terms of quality and style. Wizard of Legend uses a more modern pixel style, so it feels like 16-bit but with more fluid animations, and there are no defining black borders for characters and other objects. The game sports some flourish, like loads of smoke and no slowdown once loads of enemies and other projectiles are on-screen. Despite the presence of a handful of environments, the use of brighter-than-normal colors and a rich amount of detail saves the game from looking bland. On the sound front, the music is standard rousing adventure fare, but the effects stand out because there are multiple effects used for the same element, so it's not drowned out in the player's mind.

Wizard of Legend may not be your all-time favorite roguelike dungeon crawler, but it's very good at what it does. The fast-paced, action-oriented angle is exciting, and the addition of co-op makes the game as fun as solo runs. The item system suffers from a lack of descriptions until it's too late, but the many combinations you can conjure up give the game some replayability. Both genre fans and newbies will like Wizard of Legend.

Score: 8.0/10

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