The Dark Souls of 2d Pixel Art Action RPGs.
Wizard of Legend is the creation of Contingent99, a two man indie dev studio based out of Los Angeles, California. I have to admit I know nothing about the game prior to being reached out to by our partners at Humble Bundle, but upon playing through the action RPG this past week I can assure you, many people will hear about this one. Wizard of Legend has you taking the role of a Wizard with a simple dash and attack at your disposal. Soon after you start your journey you gather a few spells and it is off to the races. From there you are immediately tossed into a “trial” where you quickly learn that there is much to discover in your mastery of the mystical arts. Simply put, Wizard of Legend is a challenge.
Stick and Move.
Wizard of legend has you equip two spells in to go along with your face button slash attack and dash move. Spells can be found and purchased, but anything acquired in a level will be lost if you die. This has your spells changing just as much as the procedural generated levels themselves. There are three vendors in each level, but which vendors varies. Some sell spells, some sell artifacts, and there is even one that has you trade in a current spell to randomly pick a different one. The combat itself is frantic and impressive. Stringing spells together to create a spectacle of damage is incredibly fun, when it works. Too often I find myself using my more powerful spell and missing completely, needing to wait several seconds to use the spell again. Bouncing between the spells still remains fun, but not without some flaws.
Trial and Error…and Error.
This issue here is that you simply do not know what spells do, how they work, or if they will be useful in your current run. You will spend hard earned diamonds on new spells, but you are buying them somewhat blind. There is a short description, but until you buy it and equip it, you simple don’t know how that spell will feel. What’s more, each death resets the order of the levels you are attempting, thus spell weaknesses might be a moot point. Load up on fire attacks to take on the forest levels might work on turn one, but if you die and start over you may be thrown into the fire level. The random nature hinders player progression a bit much for my taste. With each failure, you hope to get better, but the order of the levels changing makes it so that what you learned may not be important on your next run.
The good part of death is that you do get to keep your earned diamonds, so that you can upgrade spells or buy new ones. Gold, however, is gone forever. Gold is really only used in-level to buy health upgrades and some other tools, so it is not missed as much as you would think. There is your classic loop. Fight-Die-Buy Stuff. Eventually you will find the right combo of spells and the perfect cloak to buy and victory will be yours! Well…Maybe…
Lend a Helping Hand.
Couch Co-operative play is a godsend for Wizard of Legend. Playing the game with a helping hand, being able to mix up different spells to find the perfect match, really helps get through the games tough challenges. The game never falters when the second player joins and slings spells all about the screen. If you have a buddy willing to play with you, I cannot recommend that enough. Just maybe sure they play with their own controller as to not…you know…risk them breaking one of yours in anger.
Aside from the bone crushing difficulty and lack of information, Wizard of Legend sets the bar for gorgeous pixel art and fluid movement. The combat animations are sharp and smooth and make the fact that you are getting your ass handed to you somewhat more palatable. Monster designs, although a little derivative at times, are stunning. From tiny ghost and blobs to massive God of War-like trolls, each design pops and moves gorgeously. There are some simple pallet swaps on some enemies, but the enemy designs are impressive nonetheless. Just when I thought I was tired of Pixel art, Wizard of Legend proves that great pixel art can make that fatigue vanish.
Wizard of Legend is a gorgeous action RPG with an engaging combat system and addictive gameplay loop. The game’s lack of information to help lead you through the early moments hold the player back from succeeding more than it should, but does not take away from the overall fun factor had. Playing with a friend is an added bonus that more games like this should explore having.
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