When it comes to dungeon crawlers, there needs to be a very fine line between difficulty and intricacy. If you ask me, a good dungeon crawler knows where to put the hook and bait, constantly enticing its audience into one more proverbial run. Straight off the bat, Wizard of Legend achieves that ten fold. Contingent99 have carefully crafted this game in such a way to ensure that it not only has a fantastic first impression, but will go on to stand the test of time in the long run, and accomplishment not quite met by its peers.
What struck me the most is that at first, I was worried that Wizard of Legend may have been too arrogant for its own good. The game instantly throws its players into its world with an attitude that almost comes across as though the game expects you to know about it. What follows on from this is nothing short of a remarkable adventure that quite frankly surprised me, taking into account that this entire experience has been developed by just two people. Furthermore to that and equally as impressive, Wizard of Legend is their debut project.
Wizard of Legend begins by placing you within the confines of a museum, though instead of merely serving this section of the game as a tutorial, it allows the player to learn of the history of wizards and magic – known as arcana. Throughout the museum sits a wide collection of information points and exhibits, lending you some swift insight as to what lies in wait ahead. Before the walk-in presentation is over, an artifact shatters its confining display glass and teleports you to a mysterious location.
This location is none other than your very own participation in the chaos trial, an event that is highlighted numerously during the museum’s exhibits. It falls to you to master all that you have learned and make it through these challenges in one piece. You’ll be tasked with traversing a wide range of interesting locations along the way, whilst harnessing arcana to pull off some devastating magical abilities. There’s no shortage of foes that stand in your way, grouped with tough-as-nails boss battles at the dusk of each run.
Not too dissimilar to the foundation of Enter the Gungeon, players will need to clear floor upon floor of enemies to make any real progression. Magic is categorized into the usual elemental output; wind, water, fire, earth and so on and so forth. Maximum damage output can be achieved via using common sense, such as utilizing the element of water against an enemy that’s fire-based. This form of strategy has been around since the dawn of Pokemon, but in Wizard of Legend, it feels very much suited and throws in a blanket layer of tactic.
Death in Wizard of Legend will see you thrown back to the beginning of said dungeon, but you’re typically given just the right amount of health and capability to at least stand a chance. This doesn’t mean that you can go in guns-blazing, but it helps to know that you wont fall after merely being flicked. Wizard of Legend supports procedurally generated content to a fantastic degree, meaning that not only skill, but luck, will play a factor in regards as to how tough each run will be presented.
Magical abilities are by no means in short supply, on the contrary in fact, there’s over one hundred spells and combinations that can be obtained. This allows you to find a play-style that suits your needs, on top of giving the game plenty of depth. It doesn’t end there, however, as there are also artifacts that be picked up in the form of relics. These relics can buff your output considerably; increased damage, the ability to bring forth minions, the chance to poison your opposition and much more.
Wizard of Legend offers a fairly lenient difficulty curve to begin with to allow its players to gel with the learning curve. The initial difficulty within doesn’t really come from the gameplay, but the lack of understanding how everything functions. It certainly gets easier as you identify what to use (against which foe) and how to use it, but Wizard of Legend does go on to produce a solid, addictive challenge, thereafter. I found that after roughly an hour of play, the difficulty took it up a few notches as new obstacles were put in my way.
It really is a well developed system in the grand scheme of things and something any dungeon crawler worth its salt should promote. Learning how to harness your own attacks and when to use them is only half the journey, as it’s equally as important to pay close attention as to how your enemy will attack. Once again, this difficulty is alleviated once you build an understanding as to how each foe will function, but even then, it’s not going to be a walk in the park by any means. Quite the opposite, I might add.
Though, with that being said, I do think it’s important to point out that Wizard of Legend isn’t an absurdly tough adventure. It’s a game that will reward you for your perseverance equally as much as it rewards you for your skill. Once that aforementioned learning curve is out of the way and the game’s true difficulty makes its appearance, time and effort will see you through the several diverse and interesting confrontations throughout. Throwing in local co-op does help to some degree, but it’s still one hell of a trek nevertheless.
It helps that the entire adventure is upheld by its decent control layout and more importantly, smooth handling. I quite enjoyed Wizard of Legend’s visuals too, which prove to be diverse and well detailed from start to finish. Many of the locations tend to come with environmental hazards and breakable objects that house currency – to be spent at traders and shops in return for items and spells. Locations include the likes of crypts, dungeons, lava pits, outdoor locales and more, all of which keep the game fresh and inviting on each run.
The audio cues are equally as commendable, ultimately tying the theme and design up nicely. Perhaps Wizard of Legend’s most alluring feature is never knowing what to expect. Each run presents a new challenge and layout, with its enemies also adapting. There’s also a neat plaza section that you can take to to yap to a mirror, a chest, a book, as well as earn new outfits. My only gripe is that there tends to be a slight stutter in frame-rate when a lot of action is on-screen, but stepping back to look at the bigger picture, this is easy to forgive.
Wizard of Legend is easily one of the best dungeon crawlers of this gen so far. There’s a plethora of challenging content to get through and no shortage of magical combinations to enjoy. The gameplay itself, despite the occasional minor drop in frame-rate, remains fluid and precise throughout. This is further upheld by its natural charm, its energy, its general depth and its vast replay value.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.