When an independent developer sets out to create literal magic, one never expects it to come in the exact form of a wizard dungeon crawling video game with randomly generated areas and a rotating set of three bosses, but here we are with Wizard of Legend a co-op experience that is both epic and magical.
Developed by Contingent99, which consists of two people surprisingly, Wizard of Legend has an amazingly simple premise and idea: You’re a wizard visiting a museum about your wizarding world and the tutorial plays out as a series of interactive exhibits. Before long you’re whisked away into an ever-changing dungeon inhabited by three powerful wizards. This challenge you come to find out is known as the Chaos Trials and only wizards of exceptional skill have bested them, so you set out to be that exceptionally skilled wizard.
The bosses rotate as you play the game, and the experience is rogue-like in that death isn’t permanent, but you must restart the trials from the beginning if you fail. Best the three bosses and you’re off to a secret 4th area followed by the game’s true master. Your move set is extremely limited at first, so you’ll often fail quite a bit, but eventually you begin to learn different spells and abilities and map them to any configuration you seem fit to conjure. While most rogue-like games make you use the random resources you find on any given run, Wizard of Legend is focused more on skill-based action gameplay. With the proper loadout, you can dish out combo attacks and stun your enemies with melee attacks and ranged magic and even dash attacks. It’s fast, fluid and makes the game feel like a classic action-RPG.
During a run, you can collect gold and gems by defeating enemies and finding various chests. Gold is only used to buy items found within the dungeons themselves, whereas the gems you find can be used to purchase new spells, cloaks and artifacts in the game’s main hub that you visit after you’ve perished in the dungeon. Anything purchased outside the dungeon is yours to keep, but items purchased within the dungeon are only with you during that specific run. While that may make gold seem useless, the idea is to grind out gems and should you fail before meeting the final boss, you can purchase new spells and artifacts to make your next run that much better. It’s a bit of a grind, but it’s so heavily addictive you barely notice.
It helps that the game’s soundtrack is among the best. It’s whimsical and flowing always and during some moments downright cinematic despite the game’s old school sprite graphics. It’s a delicious reminder of what old school games used to be like, right down to difficulty spikes that seem as randomly generated as the dungeons themselves. It often feels like the game puts on a “you’re playing too good,” mode but instead of coming across as a nuisance, it’s fun and rewarding thanks in part to an excellently designed skill based combat system, the music and a very well done multiplayer experience.
You can play local co-op with a friend (an experience that absolutely shines on the Nintendo Switch version) and you both share a common pool of spells. Having two players makes the harder difficulty enemies more manageable and less overwhelming. The only hindrance is that both players must occupy the same screen which restricts movement and exploration. The graphical style also becomes a bit discouraging in co-op as it’s easy to lose track of who is where on the screen and sometimes enemies color patterns mix in with the dungeons palette and it’s easy to lose where you may be getting hit from.
The only graphical down point is that the dungeons appear too “samey” with reused textures across the board and repeated look during runs despite them being randomly generated. Despite the slightly uninspiring visuals, the game makes up for it with fluid animations from your wizard and the enemies themselves, and the boss attacks are things of awe to witness on screen, amazing showcases of elemental power and strength. They are not to be taken lightly.
Wizard of Legend is fast-paced, with fluid movement and large variety in the many spells you can obtain in the game and is also the most fun with a friend. Even with some cheesy writing from the characters and occasionally large spikes in challenge factor, Wizard of Legend stands as the best of its class, offering an enjoyable experience from beginning to end and one that is hard to put down. It is quite simply the most magical gaming experience available from an independent developer and stands tall against some of the best of 2018 thus far. No matter what platform you decide to get it for (we put our copies on the Nintendo Switch because it’s a great portable game to chew on during our commutes) Wizard of Legend is a game that should not be missed.