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Rogue Wizards is a rogue-lite, turn-based dungeon crawler developed and published by Spellbind Studios.  The game was released on September 28th, 2016 for PC.

In the game, you play as a character who has been recruited by a group of wizards in order to fight against the evil creatures spewing forth into the world, caused by an evil wizard.  You do this by going out and clearing out dungeons, gathering loot and recruiting allies to fill out the ranks of your ever growing army.

The game is a rogue-lite, or rogue-like, whichever you prefer, which means that the dungeons are randomly generated and laid out.  It’s not just that, though, they are literally built as you play.  As the game is made of tiles, you click on a tile and that is where you will go, think X-COM but on a much smaller scale.  The map itself actually builds as you move, and decays for that matter.  At any point in time, you will only see about four or five tiles away from your character, and as you move, the floor, walls and even enemies will ascend from the bottom of the screen, showing you what else is around. The only time you will see more of the map, is when you are in battles with enemies.  The game has some random difficulty spikes at times, pretty much always when you aren’t expecting it.  You may come across a boss who is really difficult to take down the first time around, causing you to have to re-evaluate your tactics and change it up a bit, which is fair.  But often you will walk into something that you are not prepared for, with seemingly no indication beforehand.  You could be easily slaughtering your way through a few enemies, then come across a huge amount of enemies, or one really difficult one that simply annihilates you.

The combat in Rogue Wizards is turn-based, and not by individual, but by team.  When you find enemies, either you or they will go first, then vice versa.  You only get to control the main character, though, any allies and pets you have with you choose what to do for themselves, which is both good and bad.  It means you don’t have to worry about others and can fully focus on yourself, but if there is a certain ability you know an ally can do, you won’t be able to get them to do it, and simply hope that they do it of their own accord.  There are no Action Points like in many other games, you can only do one thing per turn, such as attacking, moving one tile or equipping a different item, the same goes for the enemies, though, so it is all even.  You won’t be fighting alone, thankfully. Throughout the course of the game, you will find allies who will join you, or you will find them in dungeons to accompany you, along with pets that you can find.  In between quests, your pets need time to rest before they can join you again, more so if they actually perish in battle.  If a non-pet ally dies, they will follow you around as a small light for a time, before respawning.  During this time it is best to simply explore without entering battle until they have respawned.

Now for the main reason everyone plays rogue-likes, the loot.  In every dungeon there are a few ways to get loot, you can break open destructible objects, such as barrels, by killing enemies and also opening locked chests.  To open these chests, you need to find keys around the dungeon which can be found on enemies or in destructible objects.  There is exactly the right amount of keys for chests in each dungeon, so a little searching and exploring will easily allow you to get all the loot in a given dungeon.  Gear is coloured by rarity, as every game is doing nowadays and different gear can effect the way you play quite drastically.  You may find a piece of armour which gives a huge amount of points to a weapon style, causing you to switch to using that type of weapon for a time.

Rogue Wizards is very colourful and cartoony.  It actually really suits the gameplay and just makes it that much more enjoyable.  Watching your spells go off, the enemies’ different types of attacks and traversing the different areas and dungeons is always thrilling and different each time.  The audio also fits really well.  The music when you are in town gives a sense of peace and relaxation as you work towards upgrading both the town and yourself.  Once you’re done with that, though, you head into a dungeon and that’s when the music gets very quiet and sombre.  Mix that with an atmospheric, deep hum that you would expect from dark, dank and dangerous dungeons, and you have yourself a true dungeon-crawling feel.

Verdict

Rogue Wizards is out now on Steam for AUD $20.  The game is an enjoyable dungeon crawler with solid gameplay and loot-based levelling.  Aside from a few niggling issues like the random difficulty spikes or having to wait for pets to rest, which takes real time, by the way, the game is a solid rogue-like which will be enjoyed by many fans of the genre.  For these reasons, we give Rogue Wizards an 8.3/10.

Rogue Wizards

AUD $20
8.3

Enjoyment

9/10

    Gameplay

    9/10

      Visual

      8/10

        Audio

        9/10

          Story

          8/10

            Pros

            • Loot actually affects the way you play
            • Audio and graphics set the tone
            • Enjoyable turn-based combat

            Cons

            • Random difficulty spikes
            • Waiting for pets in real time