Steam Cleaning #10: Wizard of Legend

Ever since I was in my mid-teens, I’ve dabbled in game development. I’ve entered more than half a dozen game jams, created dozens of game prototypes, and finished one long-term game project. Whenever I have an idea for a game I could feasably create, I write it down for later use.

One such game idea was simply “Spell-focused top-down roguelike with dozens of spells, customizeable combat, and quick souls-like movement.” Wizard-game I called it.

Yeah, I shouldn’t be surprised that the idea has been done before. Moreover, it was done very well, and it had been sitting in my Steam library unplayed until now.

Wizard of Legend is a single-player or co-op adventure in which robed wizards take on the Chaos Trials, traveling to randomly-generated elemental dungeons to prove their worth. The gameplay loop is simple: explore, fight enemies, find vendors, empower yourself, then fight bosses.

The game is also hard as nails. It took me several hours to learn enough to beat the first elemental lord the first time. Coming from my experience with Enter the Gungeon, I find it a lot harder to dodge everything in this game. While my Wizard’s healthbar is more forgiving than in EtG, it frustrates me a bit to watch my health dwindle in more chaotic battles. I have made it through several battles unscathed, though, so perfection may be possible.

My hangup with the difficulty likely comes from the blistering speed of the game, the focus on comboing enemies, and the way the wizard stops while using spells. Standing still while attacking works well in slow-paced games like Dark Souls; in Wizard of Legend standing still is a dangerous proposition, at least in the more chaotic sections. The game is built around this struggle, and the more I play the more I adjust to it.

(Also enemy projectiles can hit the player while mid-dodge, which seems all sorts of wrong to me.)

Leaving aside the difficulty, the game is beautiful. Multiplayer works very well, and the snappy combat is exciting. Each time I ran across a vendor that swapped spells with me or offered some neat relics, I anticipated the opportunities. The spells feel good to cast, and the combat is just dynamic enough to stay interesting without feeling overwhelming.

Customizing my starting relic and cards is nice, but doesn’t feel substantial. The unlocks are drip-fed to me, bit by bit, not enough to make a big difference. On top of that, as far as I know, I’ll never be able to take extra cards or relics into the trials. Balance-wise, this makes sense, but since the initial loadout is so small, I wish I could unlock options for it faster.

Speaking of limited options: There are only three music tracks in the game. All three are amazing and wildly different, worth a listen on their own, but I wonder how long they’ll keep me going.

Enemy variety at least keeps me on my toes, and most attacks are telegraphed well enough to understand within seconds of meeting a new foe. The bosses are a delight, even if their quick and varied moveset often send me back to the entry gate within a minute of meeting them. While the customization and unlocks are a slow drip, playing a run often gives me many options and exciting abilities mid-game, and it keeps dragging me back for more!

I think most of my qualms with the game will be fixed by me ‘getting good.’ I’d see more of the game, get more relics, learn enemy patterns, align with the pacing of the game, and perhaps unlock things quicker. The longer each run goes, the more I enjoy the game. When I get the chance to combo relics together and create a unique build, it presses those roguelike buttons perfectly and leaves me excited for the next run.

Verdict: Several hours played so far. I wanted to get this post out of the way, but this is a game I’ll keep returning to.

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