Wizard of Legend was released in 2018 by developers Contingent99, the two person team   of Bundy Kim and Dahoon Lee, after asuccessful 2016 Kickstarter

23.02.2023 0 By admin

A well-made roguelike is something special.

There’s something endlessly appealing and addictive about the ability to load up a game and get a complete start-to-finish experience in under an hour, whether you win or lose.

Finding a new roguelike that really clicks with   me is one of the surest ways for me to completely hyperfixate on a game, slowly getting deeper and   deeper into its mechanisms, unpicking the systems that hold it together and using my ever-widening   knowledge to get further and further each time until I really feel like I’ve mastered it.

Many of my favorite games are ones that scratched that sort of itch, and two of   my all-time top 5 games are roguelikes.

With the genre being such a wide-spread and   popular one though, especially in recent years, it’s inevitable that some gems are going to fall   through the cracks.

So as something a little shorter after my last two videos I’m going to   shine a light on a game that I really believe should be counted among the ranks of classic,   perfectly-put-together roguelike experiences, and talk about what makes it work so well.

And also maybe gush about Avatar for a bit.

This is Wizard of Legend.

Wizard of Legend was released in 2018 by developers Contingent99, the two person team   of Bundy Kim and Dahoon Lee, after asuccessful 2016 Kickstarter.

As with many roguelikes,   the story is pretty straightforward.

You are a wizard.

You want to be a legend.

.

That’s about i- The framing device of the game is the ‘chaos trials’, a set of ancient tests that wizards go through in order to prove themselves   and which supposedly no wizard has completed before.

What I like about it is that it’s   treated less as some all-important mythical rite of passage and more like a festival or gameshow.

Like American Ninja Warrior but with more spikepits.

Even the bosses are fairly jovial and lighthearted, making puns and giving you words of encouragement when you beat them.

This is also woven into the games tutorial, where you travel through a modern museum exhibit set up   to display features of the trials, teaching you the game’s mechanics while also acting   as worldbuilding.

When you win a run you get returned to this modern era where your run is   showcased and memorialised, as it’s revealed that you, the unassuming museum patron were,   in fact, the icon at the centre of the exhibit.

It’s a lovely little bookend.

The trials are divided into three sets of three levels,   the first two of each set being your classic randomised roguelike layout guarded by a   miniboss with the third level in the set being a single boss fight.

Each set is focused on   one of the game’s five elements, with a mix of standard and unique enemies, and all enemies,   minibosses and bosses gain new abilities depending how deep into the run you go.

This elemental system is the heart of Wizard of Legend, and we’ll be taking   a more in-depth look at it later since it’s a big part of what makes the game so great.

After making your way through all nine levels there’s a final miniboss challenge,   then the fight against the final boss and gatekeeper, Master Sura.

Again,   I want to come back to him as his boss fight is a really interesting and well-crafted one.

To kick things off though, let’s talk about movement.

{Zuko} Here for a rematch?Trust me Zuko, It’s not going to be much of a match.

When you strip away all the presentation, Wizard of Legend is a game about positioning.

The great   majority of the game involves you stuck in a room with some number of enemies trying not to get hit.

That isn’t a rare thing in action roguelikes; it’s the bread and butter of the genre,   but Wizard of Legend turns that bread and butter into a delicious sandwich of pain.

Many of these spaces are so tiny and so claustrophobic that trying to kite or dodge   enemies forever to get that perfect safe position is basically impossible, meaning if they want to   survive the player has no choice but to go on the offensive.

And this is very much by design,   because it ties into a key aspect that makes for one of the game’s centrepieces:   Wizard of Legend has almost no i-frames.

I-frames in games, for those who don’t know,  are those brief moments where you take no damage during a certain action.

You’ll   see them pop up in almost every action game ever in one form or another:
Common examples: dashing, dodge rolling or other forms of specific avoidance move   generally include i-frames during the animation, with the intention that you use these to   nullify enemy attacks by dodging through them.

Attack animations will generally include some   number of i-frames once the vulnerable and interruptible wind-up animation has completed.

And while some wouldn’t include it under the same banner, there are also the moments of mercy   invincibility you get after getting hit.

These are all so common that they’re less genre staples and   more just unwritten rules of action gaming.

And then Wizard of Legend comes along.

I can’t begin to express how much of a unique feeling this gives to the game.

When you first start out it seems almost unfair as one errant dash or mistimed   attack has you stunlocked and half your health bar torn away, and for players who are used   to other action roguelikes the muscle memory almost makes it more difficultgodDAMMIT-
But once you get into the right mindset and start to feel the flow of the game it   creates this amazing constant tension.

Every room feels like you’re on a knife’s edge,   any moment could have you gangpiled on by a swarm of enemies.

You need to be constantly moving,   constantly aware of every surrounding enemy and projectile, while at the same time not moving   thoughtlessly as one panicked dash out of danger could send you face first into a hail of bullets.

In this way players are very quickly taught to reach that kind of ‘flow’   state that mixes split second planning with sheer reactive instincts.

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And I want to really emphasize that this removal of a key cornerstone of the genre hasn’t been done   carelessly, the game has clearly been designed around this.

Projectiles are destructible so   you have the option to go through as well as around, and nearly every attack you have is freely   cancellable so that you can stop whatever you’re doing and reposition at any point.

Many attacks   have some form of movement tied into them which adds to this constant need to position yourself,   and the rare attacks that do have some form of i-frame now have a unique strength to them.

Plus while your dash doesn’t have i-frames it’s still fast and spammable, but not   infinitely – there’s a brief forced pause and vulnerability window after each one,   and again this encourages and trains a specific kind of surrounding awareness   as you intuit where you need to end up so that you’re not landing in immediate danger.

Additionally the dash just feels great to use – it’s responsive and customisable with a bunch of   different offensive or defensive options.

Additionally, the lack of i-frames extends to   enemies too, so you quickly learn to time and space out your attacks to string together long   combos to stunlock enemies in place.

Remember when I said at the start of this section that the small   room sizes already encourage aggressive play? It all fits together to ensure that it’ll only   take a few rooms for a new player to figure out the playstyle the designers want to foster.

The only exceptions who do have invincibility frames are a couple of larger enemies and the   bosses who have anti-stagger shields up during their attack patterns, but this still ties in:   the shields are only briefly dropped after some number of attacks, but that window of opportunity   can be extended by keeping them stunned – which you’ve already been encouraged to practice on   regular enemies through the mechanics of the game.

Just as the regular enemies attack patterns   train you for the minibosses patterns, you’re similarly, wordlessly taught the proper way   to fight them back.

It all slots together.

But all this means nothing if the combat itself   doesn’t feel satisfying.

Thankfully… {Azula} I’m sorry it has to end this way BROTHER.

{Zuko} No you’re not.

*Sick-ass Agni Kai soundtrack hell yeaaaaaa* Ok let’s get to the crux of this video: Wizard of Legend is the best Avatar game currently in existence.

Like many people my age I have a deep love for the avatar franchise, both its   near-perfect first series and its flawed but still extremely enjoyable followup.

And there are a lot of reasons to love the franchise: great worldbuilding.

complex character arcs.

the best mentor character in television history.

the secret tunnel song.

but the standout and most immediately obvious one is the elemental system and fight scenes.

The amount of thought and research that went into the combat in this series is well-covered ground,   and I’ve linked a couple of great videos on the subject below,   but in short the combination of martial arts and creative elemental powers (thanks to the   incredible work of Sifu Kisu) is what makes the action of the show so memorable.

Each elemental   fighting style is based off a different martial art, making them all feel stylised and unique,   from the flowing Tai Chi of waterbending to the solid Hung Ga strikes of earth.

And while Wizard of Legend is on its surface a game about slinging spells, in reality its   magic system is a perfect encapsulation of what makes Avatar such a joy to watch.

It may not have the same incredible story or characters but in terms of letting you   feel like one of Avatar’s elemental masters there really is no other game out there.

Here’s a controversial opinion.

Traditional elemental fighting   systems in video games often kinda.

suck.

Elemental powers in video games most commonly fall into one of two camps.

You’ve got the kind most commonly seen in rpgs, where you’re able to sling   cool spells and effects around so long as you have the mana to pay for it, and then you’ve got   the kind seen in action games, where the elements are generally seen in the form of weapon buffs,   or maybe a brief one off burst attack.

But neither of these really help you feel  like an Avatar character, a real master of the elements – the resource-bound stop-start nature   of rpgs can be good for building an intricate web of strengths, weaknesses and interactions,   but it’s never going to be able to replicate the fast, fluid martial arts of the show,   and while action games have the speed there’s a world of difference between an attack with a flaming sword and- or shooting out a quick blast of air and- Up until Wizard of Legend I would say the game that came closest to capturing that feeling of   elemental mastery was probably Magicka, primarily due to the eschewing of any kind of mana system.

Sure, your movement was still pretty slow and stilted but you could do stuff   like this with no stopping until you died.

Which you would.

Because it’s Magicka.

Like Magicka, Wizard of Legend has no mana system at all.

There are cooldowns on your spells, sure,   but these aren’t mmo multi-minute-long cooldowns.

Even dropping an entire meteor on your enemies   can be repeated every 6 seconds.

Oh, yeah, by the way there’s a spell that lets you drop a meteor on your enemies.

I love this game.

Combine that with a freely spammable basic attack and the fact that you’ll generally have 3-4 other   different abilities to work with only a couple floors into a run and you have a magic system that   takes any kind of careful resource preservation and throws it right out of the window.

The only resource you really need to worry about is your health – restorative abilities are at a   premium and even health potions from the shop lose effectiveness the more you buy.

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You’re   fragile but fast and able to hit like a truck if you play right, very much a glass cannon.

Oh wait they have that already.

Adding onto that feeling of Avatar-like   speed is the way movement has been woven into the design of the abilities.

I spoke already about the   dash and how kinetic this game is, so having every ability force you to stay in place and shoot from   a distance would make things feel jerky as you move, then fire, then move, then fire and so on.

Instead, while some moves do fit in the above camp a huge number include some manner of movement as   part of the attack – from dashes to jumps to spins to even the occasional teleport.

And just like avatar every element has its own specific feel to it.

While there will still be   a wide range of movements and attack styles and speeds within each element they’ll be   clustered differently.

Combine that with aesthetic distinctions and a specialised run could have you   as a nimble lightning warrior dashing from place to place, a red mage filling every room with waves   of fire, or a master of earth who quite literally punches their enemies into the ground.

Or just as likely a chaotic mishmash of elements desperately using whatever you can find to   survive, in the best of roguelike traditions.

Compare some of the different jumping attacks   between the 5 elements for an example of the care that’s been put into the aesthetics of the game.

Thunder Drop teleports you forward and has quick, chaotic strikes.

Airborne Slam is a   graceful lift followed by a hawklike dive down, and seismic entry lets you stamp around like a   kid having a tantrum.

Despite all of these attacks being functionally very similar,   the little touches in timing and presentation makes using them feel completely different.

This is also a good point to talk about the way Wizard of Legend lets you customise your builds,   and in particular how you start a run.

Many roguelikes start you off as a completely   blank slate, with only a basic attack or perhaps choosing from a limited selection of equipment,   forcing you to build on-the-fly.

And that’s fine, there’s nothing wrong with that and it’s   a classic roguelike facet, but I really love the way Wizard goes against the grain.

Most spells have an upgraded signature version, which starts as a stronger   form of the basic version and can be further charged into these ridiculous,   room-clearing monstrosities – using one is always an event, the game pauses for a moment,   the effects get ramped up, it’s great.

When you start a run you get to choose four starter spells – a basic attack, a dash, a standard attack and a signature,   plus a relic that can buff you or change your playstyle in various ways.

This signature is the only thing that’s locked in place, everything else can be switched out   for new rewards you discover during the run, but having this many usable moves right away means   that right from the off you’re encouraged to think about spell synergies, combos and combinations,   and more to the point you can start building them immediately.

Before the run even starts   you can choose a specific theme, whether that’s a focus on a specific element, or building around a   certain relic, or just some strange gimmicky idea that might blow up entire rooms or get   you killed instantly, and then immediately begin with that theme partially fulfilled.

In a genre that so often has you working with what the RNG gods deign to give you,   having this flexibility is extremely freeing.

Don’t take this to mean the game is easy though.

It’s hard as hell.

And the bosses are no exception.

And speaking of forced segues.

{“Aang”} So.

You’re blind? I see everything that you see.

Except I don’t ‘see’ like you do.

I release a sonic wave from my mouth: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA There.

I got a pretty good look at you.

I’m not going to spend much time touching on the regular boss fights.

They’re great,   the elemental masters have cool designs and a good variety of attacks which ramp up in   speed and difficulty as you progress, and the boss rush speedrun mode is honestly an absolute blast,   one of my favourite boss rushes this side of the Hollow Knight Pantheons.

What I do want   to focus on though is Master Sura.

Wizard of Legend has one of my favourite   final fights of any roguelike out there.

And as the majority of you who found this   channel will already know, I like talking about bosses.

So let’s dissect this one.

Spoilers for the fight, obviously.

Master Sura is a fairly short two phase boss   fight.

The first phase has him as a stationary shielded figure, where you need to avoid the   attacks while whittling down his defensive projection before you can actually damage him   properly.

I’m not going to spend too much time on this phase but I do want to note two things.

Firstly, unlike the other bosses which have more defined lines between offense and vulnerability,   Sura’s cage does not have the longer pauses the other bosses have and can’t be stunned, meaning   that you need to be better at timing your attacks between his – admittedly not too hard to do,   and you still get a chance to wail on him as usual once the shield is down.

Secondly, these attacks   work as training for the second phase of the fight – they work similarly to the second phase’s   big haymakers, but they come from a stationary position and as such are easier to predict.

Then once you take down that first health bar.

Master Sura’s second phase falls into a specific genre of boss fight – one which I like to call the   ‘worthy challenger’ boss.

It’s the kind that’s designed to feel like you’re fighting an equal,   by putting you up against a foe who is very similar to you in size, stature,   moveset etc.

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When done right, these fights can be some of the most satisfying to beat   as you feel like you’ve proven your mastery of your character’s body and moveset by taking on   an equal – it mirrors that feeling of beating a real life opponent in a fighting game, say.

Sura is set up to mirror the player in a few different ways.

Firstly,   just like the player he’s extremely mobile and constantly dashing between his attacks.

Unlike   the other bosses he even still moves during his moments of vulnerability after his big setpieces,   making it harder to pin him down and stun him.

I like this touch – it gives the player a taste of   what they’ve put the previous bosses through by constantly dodging their attacks.

Secondly, Sura uses a variety of attacks straight out of the player’s own playbook.

Literally – his regular attacks are ones that the player can use themselves.

He also mixes   them up constantly so that you’ll have a slightly different variety of attacks to deal with every   move cycle, keeping you on your toes.

It all adds to that feeling of unpredictability that   makes for a good ‘worthy challenger’ boss.

As for the attacks themselves, Sura’s move cycle  follows a three step process.

Firstly a random selection of four different elemental moves, then   a fifth stronger attack of the unused element, which is also stolen from the regular bosses.

The basic moves are a mix of shirt and long range, while the larger attack takes   different forms but always covers a good chunk of ground, encouraging careful spacing.

The final move in the cycle takes one of three forms – an even larger area of effect move that   generally takes up about a third of the arena, a fast tracked series of shots that requires kiting,   or a collection of one health summons that encourage precision spacing and linger until   destroyed, and are generally just the worst things in the world (I hate them so much).

As well as being an escalation in scope from the prior bosses – both in cycle length and in attack spread, Sura’s final moves   act as a teaser and promise of power – beating him will reward the player with a Chaos Arcana   of their own, frequently one which mirrors one of the moves used against the player.

For the first   time winner it works as a kind of reversal – we’ve just had Sura mimicking the player’s   elemental prowess with his early attacks, and now we get to take some of his power in return.

But really, at the end of the day Sura is still only an AI NPC.

To really get that ultimate feeling of taking control of an Avatar elemental   master, we’d want the ability to challenge ourselves against… Wizard of Legend has two forms of multiplayer, both local.

There’s co-op, where you work together   to find the best combination of attacks to turn the entire game into a bullet hell shooter for   your enemies, and there’s versus mode where you can finally find out what happens when   two overpowered builds collide, and is pretty much exactly what you’d expect would happen when   a game that’s based around fighting carefully balanced computer-controlled mobs lets you go   against each other – roughly the same result a sledgehammer has on a pocketwatch
Oh, also? The co-op still lets you fight each other.

Which is even more chaotic since now you’re   throwing whatever you picked up along the   way at each other.

There’s nothing more satisfying than hitting your friend with a perfectly thrown   icicle to the face.

Seriously, I checked.

When I think of the best Avatar fight scenes,  I generally think of those great one-on-one standoffs where two masters of their respective   elements fight to outmaneuver each other, constantly juking, pulling out new tricks,   using their respective powers in all sorts of new and inventive ways.

And ok, maybe wizard of legend doesn’t quite meet those same heights,   but until someone manages to make some sort of horrifying mashup of Tekken, Pokemon and Toribash it’s sure as hell the closest thing we’ve got.

Which really brings me to the point of this video.

Wizard of Legend isn’t a perfect game,   there are criticisms I could make – it’s occasionally finicky, some of the environments   and enemies can be a bit samey, and I’m not a fan of the way it randomly hides pickups   in destructible scenery, encouraging you to obsessively smash everything in sight.

On the other hand there are things I love that I haven’t mentioned.

The   cursed relics that can completely break a run.

The brilliant soundtrack by Dale North,   bombastic without being intrusive and which I’ve mostly been using in this video.

But really my point can be summed up with this: while I was making this video,   Contingent99 put out a free update to the game, the latest of many.

It adds a whole bunch of   new spells and rebalances, new interface tweaks that streamline things in so many ways, and even   completely new optional bonus phase for Master Sura that I can’t really properly break down   yet because I haven’t beaten it because oh my god what the hell’s going on NO- This thing was released 3 years ago, and while  it has its fandom it hasn’t exactly been a global phenomenon – I don’t think anyone would blame the   devs for having moved on to their next project.

But instead they’ve kept working away at it,   adding new content, really making it clear that this game is a labour of love.

And I’m of the mind that those sorts of games deserve to be celebrated.

So if you’re looking for   a new, fast, frenetic experience, something that really lets you harness the elements in a way few   games manage, maybe go check it out.

The key is to be like the leaf.

Flow with the movement of the gates.