Rogue Wizards is a quirky dungeon crawler RPG that has a little bit going for it, but is somewhat reliant on other entries in the genre.
Rogue Wizards is the inaugural title from developers Spellbind Studios, and was put through the test of Kickstarter before finally managing to make it onto Steam fairly recently. With randomly generated dungeons; suggesting the potential for infinite adventure, Rogue Wizards sells itself very well. There’s a reason why the game surpassed its $70,000 Kickstarter fund; the game’s quirky look and feel make it stand out from the crowd, even if it has a lot in common with many other dungeon crawler RPGs. While the game feels at home as a dungeon crawler, it’s not all dungeon-crawl. Players will feel at home in their very own Wizard Tower where they can enhance and customize the way you they play by building a thriving town, brewing their own reagents, crafting or buying their own gear, powering up their magic, and recruiting help.
Rogue Wizards begins with a simple hero from humble roots. A destitute thief on the hunt for their first meal in two days, the hero stumbles upon a scroll that transports them, bewildered, into a dungeon. From here, the adventure kicks off in earnest. After finding an unlikely ally within this dungeon, the hero must fight their way through and begin to piece together the story and discover why they’ve been summoned. As the story of the game comes into focus, it is a familiar one. A greedy, ostensibly-evil wizard is grabbing at power from all the realms, leaving rifts in reality as he goes. Monsters spilling out of these rifts are creating problems for the world of Rilfanor, and now it’s up to the hero, along with a robust supporting cast, to patch things up, close the rifts, and defeat the malicious magician before it’s too late.
Rogue Wizard’s gameplay is pretty straightforward. A simple point-and-click interface allows players to guide their champion through the dungeons, pick up loot, and battle creatures. Moving around the area is pretty freely done when there’s no danger afoot, but once enemies appear the action seamlessly switches to the turn-based “combat” mode. Here, players may use a turn to equip a new weapon or spell, heal up with an item, move, or attack. The game grabs handfuls of good ideas from a bunch of places. ARPGs are well looted, most especially with the weapons that are frequently swapped out for incrementally improved versions dropped in the enormous piles of loot you’ll find. They can also be upgraded, slotted and enchanted, which makes their temporary stay in your belt enough to cause pangs as they’re ditched for the latest model. Every item also gains experience the longer its in use, meaning that every hat, stick and shoe can level up if you commit to it, making them even tougher to let go of.
Magic is powerful, but limited by the gathering of resources dropped by enemies. Those same resources are also used for crafting potions. This is a clever balancing act as you’ll want to use fireballs, but also want to be able to mix some new health potions if you find a rare cauldron. Each enemy type has completely different tactics when fighting you, and they fight you in mixed groups, meaning you need to think carefully about your movement and weapon selections. There’s plenty of time to do that because the game switches to a turn-based mode when enemies appear. What makes Rogue Wizards stand out is the robust selection of weapon styles and magical schools. A lance, for instance, gets a free attack when moving within range of an enemy, while an axe will likely boast more raw power. Ranged weapons, including the multi-targeting Chakram, give the player an advantage from further out, but produce much lower damage output overall.
While its story and approach play it safe, the smooth gameplay and optional “perma-death” Hard Mode still bring plenty to enjoy. With a wide variety of weapons and spells to choose from and a unique experience behind each randomly-generated door, it keeps things fresh without stepping too far outside of established comfort zones. To cut it short; if there’s an RPG that you already love, or are already waiting to spend your money on, wait for that one. While Rogue Wizards is enough to scratch your RPG itch, it takes most of what it does well from other games in the genre. It’s quirky and there are one or two things that make the game stand out a little bit, but there’s not too much to justify buying it if you’re considering getting another game.
Final Verdict: 3/5
Available on: PC (Reviewed) ; Publisher: Spellbound Studios ; Developer: Reakktor Studios ; Players: single-player, online multiplayer ; Released: 27 September, 2016.
This review was based on a press copy of Rogue Wizards