Wizard of Legend has no problem admitting that it’s hard as nails. In fact, the game is so hard it makes some of the other Rogue-lites look quite tame. However the difficulty isn’t in being overwhelmed by countless enemies or surviving with a small health pool, instead the difficulty stems from your ability, or lack thereof, to evade your enemies and use your spells well.
Set in a the Kingdom of Lanova, you are a wizard taking on the Chaos Trials, a series of dungeons filled to the brim with increasingly challenging enemies, mini-bosses and bosses. Every time you die you start again, and each time the dungeon reconfigures itself and changes the order in which you fight the bosses. This is all standard Rogue-lite stuff so far, but the hook comes from fast paced action that is so perfectly balanced your reaction times. It’s not just a bullet hell, but combat at such high speed that you reactions are what will get you through.
As well as simply damaging enemies with your spells, you can inflict different statuses and even knock them into traps or off of ledges – of course, you have to be wary of these yourself. While adventuring around each level you will come across random enemies here and there as well as rooms dedicated to them, such as merchants, tailor and even pinatas. Every level also has three helpful rooms that let you spend gold gathered from enemies on upgrading your spells, healing or getting new relics, which essentially give you different buffs.
The mini-boss at the end of a level is an elite version of the other enemies you can find, and in a nice twist you can make the fight easier on yourself by killing every other mage, lancer or annoying shadow around in order to leave the boss with fewer helpers. Once you have beaten two of these levels you are faced with one of three Elemental Masters. These will kill you a lot, and in order to overcome them you will need to be patient and learn their moves, staying on your toes to dodge their attacks and trying and get in when they are vulnerable.
Once you kill a boss you move on to the next element, and this is where things get really challenging. Now the enemies all have a new attack or two and tend to be faster and more aggressive. Naturally after defeating the second elemental boss, the enemies get harder still, and this is basically how the game balances itself, as the element of the dungeon you start off in changes each time and the difficulty spikes based on the number of bosses you have defeated in that run.
The combat itself is simple enough. You have a basic spell, a dodge spell, a special spell and then a spell you can use as your signature spell. Your signature spell has two versions, with the more powerful of these becoming available if you’ve managed to string together a combo good enough to fill up the signature spell bar. Doing so grants you a brief period of time where using it makes the spell significantly more effective.
You get new spells in one of two ways: you can buy them with the crystals you get in dungeons, or you get one for defeating an elemental lord. At no point will you be lacking variety, because even putting the same spell in a different slot can change how best to use your wizard.
The dungeons are tough, but losing always feels like you could have dodged better or used a different selection of spells. You can even drag someone else in for local co-op to help you out, or if helping isn’t your thing you can compete instead. The competitive mode simply pits you and another wizard against each other. You can choose your spells at the start and as the match goes on new spells can be picked up as they appear around the arena.
While Wizard of Legend will be too difficult for some, but for those who love the Rogue-lite genre and enjoy a challenge it is definitely in the upper echelons. Consistently challenging but impossible to put down is certainly a cliche, but it’s a perfect description of this game. You will be constantly unlocking new items and testing them all out is an enjoyable experience on it’s own and one that you will spend a lot of time doing. Experimenting with different combinations of relics and spells is immensely satisfying and finding a load-out that you love will make the game so much more enjoyable. Once you crack the right style of play for you and defeat the first boss for the first time, the elation will keep you going until you’ve managed the second and beyond. Prepare to die a lot and have a lot of fun while doing so.
Version tested: Switch – Also available on PS4, XBO, PC, Mac & Linux