The fast-paced, hectic combat of Wizard of Legend, combined with its immense spell inventory, is what makes it shine.
Even with those elements, though, I fear it might struggle to bring players back.
By now, with this genre of gaming, you know the procedure. Nameless person, chosen for task, must prove your worth. Here, in Wizard of Legend, your challenge is to best the Chaos Trials; a very difficult, procedurally-generated system of dungeons.
As you prepare, you’ll decide what spells to use, gain new armour, and even mess around with some relics. You’ll have to slice and cast your way through three levels, before encountering the final challenge: Master Sura. Pick your spells and equip your wizard however you see fit; just don’t think you can control the flow of combat too much. In the Chaos Trials, if you hesitate for one second, you’re no legend.
Spellcasting has never been so fun
Far and away, the best part of Wizard of Legend is its insanely dense selection of spells to use. At the beginning of each foray into the Chaos Trials, you can equip a dash, a basic melee, and two spells. The best part is you can mix and match elements with no restrictions. An earth dash, an electric melee, and two ice spells? Sure!
Choose between those three and other elements including fire, wind, and the all-powerful Chaos Arcana. Without having to worry about mana, and with the majority of your spells having low cooldowns, the pacing of this game is incredibly fast. Combine your spells in any way you see fit, and unleash a hellstorm of elemental spells down upon your enemies in the blink of an eye. The chaotic and unyielding nature of the combat is deeply addictive; it’s what keeps me coming back time and again, even after brutal defeats.
Not for casuals
The three main worlds/dungeons you must progress through are themed after three different elements: earth, ice, and fire. The order is random each run, though you can pay some gems to at least start where you’d like. Runs are generally quick but can extend out if you decide to explore the whole dungeon each level. Finishing the two levels in a world grants access to the world boss.
Each step you take towards the final boss, Master Sura, makes the enemies more fearsome and the dungeons more unforgiving. I like how the game scales difficulty, but given the rather challenging nature of the game’s only difficulty setting, I think some adjustments could be made. I feel a lot of players will leave Wizard of Legend in time, just because there’s no casual feeling to the game. It’s just hard, and then it gets very hard. For a game with such pure and fun mechanics, I think the developers at Contingent99 would benefit from opening the door to more casual players.
Plenty to keep you busy
With a lot of rogue-likes, there’s not a great sense of overall progression. I like to think Wizard of Legend does well to make you feel that with each and every run, no matter how far you may get, you’re making progress. The dual currency system of gold and gems is a big part of that. Gold can only be used during your current playthrough, and does not maintain between runs, whereas gems are you’re out-of-dungeon currency, used in the hub world.
Gold opens the door to the many vendors you’ll meet in the dungeons who do anything from selling relics and spells, to upgrading your armour or offering cursed relics. Gems, on the other hand, are the true gold, so to speak. These are for purchasing spells, armour, and relics that you will permanently keep. Make note that besides spells earned via a world boss kill (i.e. Flame Empress Zeal, Frost Queen Freiya, and Earth Lord Atlas), any spell earned during a run is not maintained in your inventory. This, at first, can be a bit confusing.
Always something to aim for
There are several outfits to earn (that actually have benefits besides cosmetics), and over one hundred relics and spells. Wizard of Legend won’t ever make you feel like you have nothing to shoot for.
One issue, however, is if you happen upon a spell or relic you like, you can’t just simply go and buy it in the market. You have to wait until you see it pop up in the random rotation, or just keep purchasing other spells/relics until it shows its face. This isn’t necessarily a terrible thing, but it’s a bit bothersome, especially when you get stuck using the same loadout for a while because you’re waiting for those one or two spells to really switch things up. But, in general, I really like how I’m rarely diving into runs with the same exact spells and relics. The variety this game offers is one of best, if not the best, things about it.
Wait… how? And why?
The two most frustrating things about Wizard of Legend are the stun-locking and the world/dungeon building. At times, it feels as though you have 1HP, because simply getting hit turns damage into death. Mostly every attack hits for over 20 damage, and every single one seems to line you up for a stun-lock that will drain half your HP. If you get caught between more than two enemies, and your abilities are on cooldown, forget about being alive much longer.
Oh, and the archers. The bane of my existence. I cannot think of another game where the Archers are this powerful. More than three of them together and I’ll just start over and cry. But, all joking aside, the punishment you receive in here for the slightest misstep is something that’s likely to drive more casual players away.
Dungeon variety also leaves a bit to be desired. For a procedural game, I don’t quite get the sense of randomness and newness I’d really like to have. Layouts often feel slightly different, but individual room variation could definitely use a bit of a boost. It’s easy to tell when you’re about to be locked into a fight, or when there’s traps ahead. I want more surprise, more unknown variables. The few times I get locked into a massive battle in a tiny little hallway are the moments that truly stick out to me. What’s already there is great, I just feel Wizard of Legend could become even better with a little boost to the map layout variety.
Still, one spell of a time
Despite its shortcomings, Wizard of Legend is still wonderfully put together. For a project from a two-person indie dev team, it’s definitely worthy of praise. It’s all the the things I absolutely love about Magicka 2 blended together with the replay value and challenge I adore about The Binding of Isaac. I love the speed of the game, and the variation it offers you as a player. The spells are unique and fun, the animations on them are absolutely stunning, and the game has a nice shine to it. Sound effects are excellent, music is enjoyable, and the cast of characters and dialogue are just punny enough without going overboard.
I, for one, will definitely keep going at the Chaos Trials, and hope the team at Contingent99 will continue to expand this game. I hope, as well, they make some tweaks, to bring us those more casual Wizards, who simply want to summon giant chess pieces from the ground. Because who doesn’t want to do that?