Wizard of Legend is a rogue-like hack-and-slash dungeon crawler developed by Contingent 99 and published by Humble Bundle.
The game focuses on a nameless wizard (or wizards, if you’re playing co-op) who is transported back in time to participate in the Chaos Trials. These trials pit a wizarding team against three members of the magical council. If the wizards are victorious, they can claim the title of Wizard of Legend, and are granted a Chaos Arcana which gives them access to primordial chaos spells.
I bought this game for three reasons.
- I’ve been in a rogue-lite mood
- It has couch co-op
- It was on sale
Fortunately for me, it was also a pretty solid game.
There are a lot of games out there that claim that they redefine the mage class in video games. I’m not sure about the claims of other games (looking at you Litchdom: Battlemage), but Wizard of Legend manages this feat, and it does it with it’s own unique flair.
So, let’s take a look at what this game did absolutely right, and shine some light on which aspects might have needed a little more work.
Heart of the Cards
The magic system in Wizard of Legend is driven by Arcana, which are basically cards that allow your character to cast spells.
Arcana come in six different elements, and each element conveys a different boon depending on the form that the element is taking:
- Earth: hits hard as rock, but also poisons or roots if the arcana is plant-based
- Water: moves enemies as water, or freezes them as Ice
- Fire: does significant upfront damage, but also adds a damage over time effect
- Air: moves enemies and can slow enemies
- Lighting: bounces between enemies and offers a stun that does a little damage over time
- Chaos: incredibly rare and powerful, dealing huge amounts of damage
What’s so great about the Arcana system is that you aren’t limited to a single element. You can mix and match your arcana to fit your playstyle.
You are, however, limited to four Arcana that you can carry with you into the trials, and each one fulfills a different function.
The four Arcana types are:
- Basic Arcana: This fulfills the role of your standard attack. These do not have a cooldown and can be used about as often as you can push the corresponding button.
- Dash Arcana: This augments your standard dash, allowing you to leave behind damaging trails or shoot spells forward.
- Standard Arcana: These are basically your run of the mill spells like Fireball or Ball Lightning.
- Signature Arcana: These essentially function like better versions of standard spells, but can also receive a huge boost if you cast them while at full signature energy charge.
I will admit that, while I could equip different elemental Arcana to maximize my effectiveness, once I’d unlocked enough lightning Arcana, I basically stayed a lightning mage throughout my entire playthrough.
Shoot Magic into the Darkness
Once you’ve chosen your Arcana, you can enter the Chaos Trials and start blasting anything that moves—and some stuff that doesn’t.
What’s great about the combat in Wizard of Legend is that it feels amazing. You can dash around like a madman, leaving behind a trail of fire while you shoot out a rock dragon and then hurl a bolt of lightning that bounces between foes. You can swing an axe made of obsidian with reckless abandon while your foes’ faces fill with horror because you froze them in place with a fan of frost. The ability to have several moves combined with the relatively short cooldowns on most Arcana mean that you are very rarely doing nothing, and if you are doing nothing, then…
If you do happen to take standard and signature spells that have relatively high cooldowns, you can supplement your build with Arcana that you can find, or buy, inside the trials. Basically you start each run with two empty spots, and can fill those with whatever you happen to find. This gives you more moves, which means that you can continue to do damage while you wait for your other cooldowns to end.
Basically, once you have a full six Arcana, you are ready to wreak complete havoc upon anything foolish enough to get in your way.
I also like that the spells and abilities feel substantial. There is a good amount of screenshake and some instances where things will slow down ever so slightly to really show the impact of the spell you’re casting. This ensures that you always feel like you’re doing real damage instead of just producing a bunch of numbers from the tops of enemy heads.
A Balancing Act
One of my least favorite things about Wizard of Legend is how well balanced the whole damn thing is.
Most of the moves do a relative same amount of damage no matter what they are. This means that you do the same amount of damage with a ten ton rock hammer that you do when you summon several dragons made of water.
I understand this decision in practice, but sometimes it makes certain moves a little underwhelming. Granted, some moves have more utility than others, so those might do less damage because they offer greater benefits elsewhere, but overall I thought that the Arcana that summons a thunder dragon should probably do a little more damage than a single ball of lightning.
There is, however, a bit of a fix for this. Each Arcana has the potential to be enhanced, which means that you can improve upon them if you get the opportunity.
Take, for example, the volt disk. It’s a basic attack that shoots a disk of lightning at a medium distance and briefly stuns foes. But if you enhance volt disk, it will hit it’s target and then bounce to a nearby enemy. Not only does that deal twice as much damage, but it also stuns two enemies instead of one. So, the enhancements are really where it’s at as far as increasing the amount of damage or utility that a spell offers.
Unfortunately, without the enhancements offered by enhanced Arcana cards, or relics (items that offer benefits like increased fire damage), damage feels so even keeled that it can be a bit of a downer to get a really amazing-looking Arcana only to find that it does just as much damage as the one you were already using.
The Final Trial
Overall, Wizard of Legend is a fast, frenetic, and fun experience. It might not have the depth and attention to detail of something like Enter the Gungeon, the story of Hades, or the beautiful pixel work of Children of Morta, but it stands alone as something that has amazing controls and a combat system that is just plain exhilarating. While I feel that its spells were a little too balanced, I understand why it was created this way, and appreciate the dedication it must have taken to make that happen.
I’m giving Wizard of Legend a magical 8.5/10 for making mages cool again.
Also, I just wanted to add that this game is very clearly a Kickstarter game. There are Arcana created by people with names that are clearly online handles, and some of the pictures that line the trial halls are just backers who paid enough money. I won’t say that it adds or takes away anything from the game… I just get a tickle out of a relic crafted by a “Virtuoso” named Tacobowls.