Rogue Wizards is a Dungeon Crawler RPG created by Spellbind Studios consisting only of Colin Day who designed the art, coding, business, and writing himself. Starting back in 2013 with personal savings, Colin started creating the game and made a base outline which then helped him to complete a Kickstarter that would earn Spellbind Studios $70k. The funding went to hiring part-time artists to assist in the production of Rogue Wizards. The Kickstarter also lead to a partnership with artist Phil Shenk, known for his work on Diablo II and Diablo II: Lord of Destruction, who finalized all the artwork in the game. Rogue Wizards won "Best in Play 2015" at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco and is now available for purchase on Steam for $14.99.
In the land of Rilfanor, there are two races of people; the Elam, who are descendants of the first people of the world, and the Banlit, people who lack magical abilities from birth. The council, which is made up of Elams, controls everything including the politicians in Rilfanor and the Magic Guild. The Guild would not accept the Banlit people or even female Elams in as students due to their lack of magical ability and weak-mindedness. Recently the Elam's magic has been slowly disappearing while the Banlit's has started to grow in the people as more gain magical abilities. Most of the Elam do not believe that it is true as they have held the power in the world for so long, but some want to start accepting the fact that the Banlit have power they did not have before. Now The Guild has started accepting Banlit's and even Elam women into their academy. One outspoken wizard named Hosperak has taken control of the council for his own purposes and has begun stealing magical power for the six elements in Rilfanor, throwing off the magic balance in the world. Magic is going away from some but growing in power for others, monsters have started coming through rifts opening up all over the world, and an evil wizard has plans to change Rilfanor. What will come of this and what are we to do?
Turn-based RPG's, especially ones that draw from grid based tactics games, tend to be slow and methodical. Characters select options from menus, select spells, carefully place characters in advantageous positions for optimal damage or healing. Rogue Wizards took both turn-based and tactical RPG's aspects and made them faster. Movement in the game both in battle and while exploring is smooth and only requires your mouse. While exploring, no clicking is required as the hero will smash boxes, collect loot, and open doors just by approaching them. Battling is quick as the player gets a hot bar for fast access to items, spells, and weapons. The controls for the game are easy to learn and intuitive, I immediately understood what to do from the start and guiding the hero through the dungeon was a breeze. Battling monsters was more fun than exploring and getting to each boss was exciting as the character descended each level of the dungeon.
Rogue Wizards uses a line of sight and tile creation system together flawlessly. As the protagonist moves about the randomly generated dungeon his or her line of sight is all that is visible on the screen. Tiles are created to represent the line of sight range similar to the indie game Bastion. Battles do not start until the character is able to see them and more tend to show up out of the darkness that is out of the line of sight. Enemies in the dungeons all have a variety of abilities, strengths, and weakness that make the player change up equipment constantly to adjust to certain monster types. Killing a monster drops loot such as weapons, items, and gold which is normal for this genre, except Rogue Wizards allows the player to sell copies of weapons and items to make upgrading in the future less expensive. This is not done often and actually gives the player incentive to collect copies of items and such.
Several companions and pets can be found throughout the adventure in deep dungeons and the town of Antarit. The companions can be powered up and some even serve some purpose in the plot of the game, while pets are strong magical creatures that are upgradable. When in Antarit, the player can customize and build the town however they see fit. As the player completes the story and the town expands, NPCs appear and create more dialogue that opens up more of the story and additional options for construction. Building up the town also unlocks more shops to purchases sundries and equipment from, along with new companions to join the adventure. NPCs in town always have a different humorous quip or story to give the protagonist when they are in Antarit. One such NPC, named Merrol, is actually creating an army to fight against Hosperak and bring his evil campaign to an end. Although the story and gameplay are great, Hosperak and his lackeys tend to fall into the simple villain trope, predictable and dumb. Even still, Rogue Wizards is a great blend of several genre types; and will provide a challenge and good laugh for anyone that plays.
Graphics and Music
The artwork created by Colin Day and finalized by Phil Shenik adds a pleasing aesthetic to adventuring and exploring in Rogue Wizards. The Cartoon style art mixed with some cell shading adds depth to the characters and makes the town of Antarit look like a mosaic of green, gray, brown and blue. The tile creation system that is used is great for gameplay and looks amazing while playing Rogue Wizards. Tile creation systems are not used often, and as previously mentioned, Bastion created by Supergiant Games is the shining example. Although cartoonish; the characters, pets, companions, and NPC's all are unique and stand out for being rich and detailed. Unfortunately, the soundtrack was lackluster. After playing the game for several hours there was not a single track that caught my attention, it was all very mediocre. Although an alright backing for the game, nothing stuck out as well done.
Rogue Wizards did a fantastic job at mixing genres and taking the best elements from each of them. The controls are easy to understand and require zero time to learn. Turn based battles tend to be on the slower side, but not here; a hot bar and the mouse will have you quickly completing levels and asking for more. Bosses are challenging and clearing entire floors of enemies before encountering them gives extra bonuses. The loot system gives the player incentive to pick up and sell duplicate items and equipment as it makes the upgrading cost cheaper as the player progresses through the story. The conversations that happen are always light and humorous and change frequently enough where it doesn't seem repetitive. Building up Antarit is fun, and getting to upgrade buildings is fun to look forward to as it means more powerful items and new NPCs.
The soundtrack, or lack thereof, was pretty disappointing, as music can really make or break a title. Regrettably, the creativeness that went into the design and gameplay didn't extend to the title's music. The story is simple and easy to understand but becomes riddled with tropes and predictableness that really could have been expanded a little more. It does not take much to get the full story from the NPC's in the town and, as the character progresses further in the plot, Hosperak never deviates from his evil path or tries to trick you. Finally, the dungeon crawling gets to be a little repetitive; but with the randomized dungeons, at least you experience something different every time. Altogether, Rogue Wizards is a great RPG that will be enjoyed by all. Great gameplay, artwork, and direction make it a fantastic title.
|+ Quick Fluid Gameplay with incentive for looting||– Lackluster soundtrack|
|+ Fun Characters and NPCs||– Non-Epic Story|
|+ Town Building and Upgrading||– Repetitive dungeon crawling|
|+ Battles are fast and exciting|