Rogue Wizards, developed by the fine people over at Spellbind Studios, is a charming blend of games like Final Fantasy Tactics, Bastion and a Mystery Dungeon game like Pokemon or Etryian Mystery Dungeon; the game focuses on your player character, who finds themselves teleported into the depths of a dangerous dungeon after finding a magical scroll in their local inn…It’s up to you to escape, find civilisation again, and investigate exactly why you were brought to this world…
Let me begin by stating that the game’s art style, animation, and visual elements are a pure treat for the eyes; I was playing the game upscaled to 4K resolution, not breaking 60fps with my GTX970, and I could pick out each individual line and design choice made to each of the game’s sprites with picture perfect clarity. As you explore the isometric dungeons, tiles of the world open up in a fashion nearly identical to the critically loved Bastion; this form of loading tiles suits the game well, and ensures that you’re on the tips of your lil’ toes when exploring the dark crevasses and corridors of each dungeon. Combat, too, is simple in nature, but hard to master – You have two (And a half) forms of combat, melee attacks, and ranged attacks…The reason I say two and a half, however, is due to some ranged magic spells and items being able to spawn minions or stationary companions (Such as the Sentinel spell, which spawns an electric turret randomly in the room). I like the combat in Rogue Wizards, however, it isn’t without it’s faults.
For instance, ranged enemies can often be unfair, overpowered, and difficult to deal with if you’re restrained to simply melee – Entering a room full of demonic amalgamations that spit a hundred fireballs at me doesn’t really bode well for my chances of survival, however if I’m being pelted with a dozen flames upon setting one foot in a room, I’m going to suspect that either something’s afoot, or that the situation I just found myself in is incredibly unfair. Now I know, this may just be a minor nitpick of mine, but it’s a valid complaint in my eyes at the least.
One aspect of Rogue Wizard I will praise, however, is it’s dynamic party system, where you can recruit followers that you find in dungeons to assist you in your explorations; these small tidbits of character development are things I really do love, as whilst exploring, you’ll be treated to learning more about your party members, be it personal stories, information about the world or mechanics, such as magic, or even just light hearted conversations. It makes you feel much more attached to your party, rather than treating them as meat shields, and helps to flesh out the world of Rogue Wizards.
Whilst exploring dungeons, you may also encounter powerful bosses, that will truly test your skills and strategics; for instance, in my first instance, I went up against a gigantic bird monster that could paralyse my team with just a flap of its’ feathers; the next time I tackled that dungeon, I encountered this lovely fellow:
…And boy, did he give me a challenge! I’m a sucker for cut-ins like this, ever since I first saw this form of introduction in Dark Chronicle. Bosses are essentially just suped-up versions of regular enemies, though, which did disappoint me a little, coupled with the fact that the music never changes for battle, bosses, or tense situations…You could get bored after a while.
In my opinion, a game such as Rogue Wizards should’ve been made for mobiles, tablets, or even a portable device such as the PS Vita or Nintendo 3DS, where you can easily pick up the game and put it down at your own discretion; given that when you die in a dungeon, you lose all your current progress in that dungeon, and are forced to start again, I feel that the PC platform only restrains this game in it’s accessibility.
All in all, I’m conflicted about Rogue Wizards; I want to love it, given the brilliant art, fluid combat, and addicting gameplay, but if it’s just going to sit on my PC…Then it’s just going to sit on my PC. The sterile soundtrack and similar environments, along with bosses only being upgraded enemies only screams repetitiveness; I want to see where the game will go with it’s story and gameplay, but already only two hours in, and I’m already feeling the slog.
I’d rate Rogue Wizards a 7/10, however, this score may change as I progress throughout the game!