First Impressions: Wizard of Legend
Wizard of Legend is a top-down 2D roguelike where you play as an unnamed wizard who must make their way through a procedurally generated dungeon filled with enemies and traps. Roguelikes are one of my favorite genres, and while there’s plenty to choose from, Wizard of Legend immediately caught my eye with its intriguing aesthetic and gorgeous artstyle. Of course, it takes more than just an appealing visage to make a great game; does Wizard of Legend have what it takes to join the impressive pantheon of roguelike games?
In Wizard of Legend, you play as a powerful mage who can harness the arcane abilities of the 5 major elements: fire, earth, water, air, and lightning. There is a massive variety of spells which you can acquire, but as a roguelike the journey to do so will not be easy. No matter how many spells you’ve unlocked, however, you can only equip 4 at the start of each run, so it’s important to find a strong, synergistic combination as quickly as possible.
As you crawl your way through the procedurally generated dungeon, you’ll encounter no shortage of brutally difficult enemies. Most of the time you don’t have to kill the enemies if you don’t want to, but occasionally you’ll be locked in a room and forced to fight for survival. The fight won’t be easy either: the enemies in this game are all surprisingly resilient. While this isn’t a negative in and of itself, it does end up manifesting some undesirable gameplay mechanics. For example, because it takes so many hits to defeat even the weakest of enemies, a lot of the combat ends up feeling like little more than ambitious button mashing.
Speaking of combat, remember how I said the enemies are surprisingly resilient? Well, you’re the opposite. The most minor of enemy can prove to be quite the pest when encountered in abundance or paired with a stronger foe. This is largely due to the prevalence of crowd control in the game, both you and your opposition rely on things like stuns, freezes, and knockbacks in order to effectively battle. If you get hit by one form of crowd control, odds are you’re going to get hit by another one immediately after, meaning that you can easily lose half your health in one combo. Ultimately, this makes it so that your focus has to be much more attuned to dodging enemy attacks rather than landing your own.
Thankfully, due to the way spells are categorized in this game, you always have a dash no matter your setup. Still, it creates a type of gameplay that’s at odds with itself. Dungeon crawler roguelikes are all about that fast-paced, high octane gameplay where your mechanics are pushed to the limit as you avoid attacks by the narrowest of margins while simultaneously landing your own. In Wizard of Legend, it’s usually one or the other. This is primarily because of the existence of cooldowns on your spells, some of which can be quite long. The gameplay often goes like this: you land your abilities, run around or hide for 6 seconds until the cooldowns refresh, then you land your abilities again; rinse and repeat. Successfully defeat the boss at the end of the level and you'll earn some loot and move on to the next (without healing).
Wizard of Legend has its merits and certainly isn’t a bad game, but it’s also nowhere near as good as some of its contemporaries. The combat does bring some new mechanics to the table with the wide variety of skills and has the ability to be very satisfying, especially when you’re comboing your spells, but it takes a long time to acquire and learn the right setup for your desired playstyle. The bosses and combat are genuinely tough, which to me is a positive, but the lack of enemy variety means that it’s easy to encounter most of the main game enemies within just a couple hours of playing. Overall, while I mostly enjoyed the time I spent with Wizard of Legend, I’d honestly rather just go back to playing something like Enter the Gungeon when I feel the need to scratch that roguelike dungeon crawler itch. Ryan’s Rating: 3/5 Wizard of Legend retails for $16 and is available on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. You can check out my review of Enter the Gungeon here: