The common envisioning of a wizard in video games is a frail fighter who tends to stay behind the front lines and throw spells from relative safety. The thick of the fight is unknown for a mage, who prefers to stay away from the center of the battlefield. These magic users favor the subtlety of a fireball to the face. Wizard of Legend makes a point of overthrowing this concept, centering its battle system on dynamic spellslinging by encouraging players to get up close and personal with their enemies. Recalling martial arts fighting, only with sorcery instead of fisticuffs.
Despite its fast-paced gameplay, the player’s introduction to the game takes place in a museum. This short section is actually a well-constructed tutorial aimed to teach the basics while keeping the player in the world. At the end of the museum exhibit/tutorial, our nameless main character gets teleported back in time to undergo the Chaos Trials, an event where wizards prove their skills and earn the Wizard of Legend title.
The objective of the Chaos Trials is to defeat the three members of the Council of Magic. To challenge a member of the council, the wizard will have to explore two procedurally generated dungeons themed around that member’s element (frost, fire or earth) and defeat the boss at its end. Only after that can the player will be able to fight the council member and proceed to the next one and then, after the three members of the council of magic have been defeated, they will be able to take the fight to Master Sura himself.
This means that there are a total of ten floors in the game, four of which are boss battles. This puts Wizard of Legend on the shorter side of roguelites. However, in the case of roguelites, the average length of a run is not extremely important. What makes a roguelite stand out is the potential for replayability. On that regard, Wizard of Legend has quite a few arrows in its quiver.
Before entering the Chaos Trials, the player will have the possibility to customize the upcoming run in a variety of ways. The most important one is the Arcana. Those are spells that our wizard will be able to cast during their adventure. The player will have to fill four spell slots before starting each run, choosing among the Arcana that have been unlocked. More precisely, he will have to choose a “basic” spell (a melee attack with no cooldown), a dash ability and two regular ones. The fourth slot is reserved for the wizard's “signature” spell which will acquire bonus effects if cast after a long enough combo.
The Arcana themselves are very well laid out and it’s different to pin down two spells that are very similar in any meaningful way. Each one has its uses and can shine when combined with other spells in hundreds of interesting, often unpredictable, ways. This alone gives Wizard of Legend a great deal of replayability. Every playthrough encourages the player to try new and different setups just to see what happens.
Arcana are only one of the ways the player can customize their experience. Our wizard will be able to also choose a relic and a robe to start with before stepping in the Trials. Relics and outfits only grant passive benefits that, by themselves, are not as interesting or transformative as your spell kit. At the same time, they can complement a run nicely.
For example, you may decide to wear the “Awe” outfit which increases crit chance and pair it with the “Vampire Glasses” relic that heals 1HP for every critical hit while picking a set of lightning skills. These spells tend to hit more often for smaller damage, so the combo will offer a bit of extra sustainability. This preparation phase really makes Wizard of Legend stand out from other games in its genre. With this method, players will not have to worry too much about RNG drops during their runs since they built themselves a solid foundation to succeed.
Once the preparation phase ends, it’s time to start the actual Chaos Trials. The actual gameplay of Wizard of Legend will be nothing new for veterans of the genre. You will have to explore an initially hidden map, searching for the boss and special rooms, fighting enemies on the way. It is also here that Wizard of Legend shows the big guns in the form of its the combat system.
As mentioned earlier, the combat is hectic and action-packed. Enemies will attack the wizard incessantly from all the sides and the player will be forced to be constantly on the move. Fortunately, in Wizard of Legend, there is no mana so the only thing between the player and an astounding amount of amazing pixel art fireworks are the pretty short cooldowns of the spells.
Every floor has three special rooms, one of which is always a relic shop where you can buy a new relic or replenish some health with the gold that is dropped in the dungeon. The other two rooms can contain a number of different NPCs. You may find, among others, an Arcana vendor to buy or upgrade your spells, an archeologist that will buy relics from, you or a robed figure that will allow you to pick up a cursed relic for free.
Cursed relics are artifacts that grant pretty big bonuses with some downsides (for example a relic that gives a big chance to evade attacks but will make the wizard suffer double damage). Each of these characters can augment or destroy a run. You may, for example, gamble to replace one of your currently equipped skills for another random one which can turn out to be awesome or terrible. All in all the vendors contribute to making every playthrough different and interesting.
When your character dies you will be able to carry some of your progress forward, as is customary in roguelites. In the case of Wizard of Legend, this is done via chaos gems, a permanent currency that drops in the dungeons. With these gems, the player will be able to buy relics, Arcana, and outfits from the market in front of the Chaos Trials teleporter. All the purchases made here unlock items permanently, allowing the player to start any future run with the new equipment. Gems can also be given in exchange for some services, like the possibility to face a particular council member first.
Up until now, we outlined the image of an extremely enjoyable, action-packed roguelite with some interesting mechanics. While this image is true, just by playing the game for a couple of runs will make obvious the greatest detriments of Wizard of Legend: the lack of variety in both environments and enemies.
It becomes evident after playing the game for a couple of hours that there is only a handful of enemies with minor variations that are repeated over and over. We have the standard knights, sorcerers, archers, and rogues that appear in every single dungeon with, sometimes, a variation that depends on the current biome (frost archers, fire knights etc). Outside of the aforementioned enemies, you have some stone giants, slimes and not much else. This goes for bosses as well, which are oversized versions of basic enemies with different patterns.
This lack of variety reflects on environments as well. After playing for a while it is noticeable how some rooms and patterns repeat themselves and are present in all the three biomes of the game with some minor differences like environmental hazards. While the pixel art is clean and very well done, the design of the dungeons themselves is pretty uninteresting with just a succession of square rooms and corridors with very little to break the monotony.
These are sizeable downsides for a game in the roguelite genre where the replayability is the most important factor. The funny thing is that, even after these problems became manifest, I kept going back to play more. Yes, the enemies are pretty standard and lack in variety and the environments are largely uninteresting, but the combat is so slick and enjoyable, just trying new Arcana configurations is enough to keep me playing.
Wizard of Legend gives its best when you stop worrying about optimizing your run and start choosing your starting setup on the basis that its elements combined may generate cool results. For example, one of the runs where I managed to beat the end boss was themed around having more projectiles as possible to orbit around my wizard. I equipped a lightning Arcana that generates orbiting globes that strike foes and another one that launches shurikens in a spiral pattern, all accompanied by a relic that increases knockback on the foes I struck. Then, I found a spell that allowed me to charge enemies with a giant earth drill to keep them in range of my orbiting fury. I dubbed this configuration “Pinball Wizard” and I had one of the best times I've ever had in a roguelite with it.
The other saving grace of Wizard of Legend and one of the reasons the combat is so enjoyable is its visual style. The pixel art is simple, colorful and clean. While not detail-rich as some other games, the cleanliness of the visual style contributes a great deal in the visual clarity during the hectic fight sessions. During combat, there are countless visual effects and attacks going on on the screen at any given time but, after some needed time to get used to it, it is always clear what’s happening on the screen and how to react.
Despite its lack of variety in some aspects of the game, the positive aspects of Wizard of Legend are so enjoyable that you will keep returning for more spellslinging action time and time again.
Our Wizard of Legend review was conducted on PC via Steam with a code provided by the publisher. It is also available DRM-Free from GOG.
Wizard of Legend offers an extremely enjoyable battle system and many customization options, all presented with great pixel art and enjoyable sound design. While the lack of variety in environments and enemies is a big downside, Wizard of Legend plays like a charm and makes you want to come back for more.(Review Policy)
- Polished Combat System
- Huge Customization Options
- Good Pixel Art
- Lack of Environmental and Enemy Variety