Wizard with a Gun PC Review: A Sorceror’s Apprentice
Devolver Digital rarely publishes a bad game, largely thanks to their keen eye for great indie developers and potential sleeper hits. Naturally, Given the initial excitement it generated, I had high expectations for Wizard with a Gun. However, while there are some redeeming qualities, the distinct title has a few challenges it must navigate to be considered a Devolver-classic.
“Wizard with a Gun does a great job setting up the premise and throwing you right into the thick of it.”
In Wizard with a Gun, you assume the role of a young wizard trying to navigate a post-apocalyptic world, where you must turn back time to prevent it from descending into chaos. Most of your gameplay experience will involve gathering resources, managing your limited inventory space, crafting useful tools, and building structures.
Although narrative typically tends to be an afterthought in games like this, Wizard with a Gun does a great job setting up the premise and throwing you right into the thick of it. Your mentor, a gunmancer named Hilda, has died alongside her team of Riders in this instance of the world.
Fortunately, there is a time machine known as the Chronomancer’s Wheel that can rewind time, but naturally, many parts of the machine are missing due to the destruction caused by chaos. It is up to you to rebuild the wheel and seek out the Riders stuck in various parts of The Tower.
Wizard with a Gun’s gameplay loop revolves around building up your base back at The Tower and going on roguelike runs in the Shatter to collect a special gear item that will help you turn back time even further. Every time you turn back time and head into the rotting world, you have a 5-minute timer that ticks down, which, once expired, results in that instance of the world collapsing. The timer can be increased by 30 seconds if you close down chaos portals that spawn randomly, adding a fun element of risk and reward to exploration.
This is one of the most interesting elements of Wizards with a Gun, and even after the timer runs out, the world isn’t immediately destroyed. Instead, those who are willing to push the envelope can stay out in the Shatter and brave the escalating danger from the increasingly difficult enemies. As with any roguelite game, you lose everything if you die in the shatter, so staying in the world past the timer feels like an exhilarating, high-stakes gamble.
“Gameplay tends to boil down to you farming materials for hours before you can continue forward.”
The Shatter is an entirely destructible, randomly generated sandbox environment where you will spend most of the game. Unfortunately, almost everything in it is an HP sponge, including walls, enemies, trees, and rocks. This makes destroying trees and rocks with a gun to be quite a tedious prospect.
Things worsen as you progress because you start encountering enemies higher than your current gear. You’re even told that you should upgrade your weapon and bullets before fighting these monsters, as the level difference is too high. Unfortunately, iron ingots, which are needed to upgrade every building, weapon, and more, are incredibly rare. To make matters worse, the special gear item you need to progress the game is often locked behind defeating a high-level creature. This leads to gameplay boiling down to farming materials for hours before you can progress.
Luckily, this is somewhat alleviated when you start constructing buildings that allow you to create certain crafting materials, such as the furnace, which takes in wood and metal to meld into iron ingots.However, the game doesn’t inform you of this, as the tutorial almost exclusively teaches you the game’s basic mechanics. You’re left mostly on your own to figure out what to do and build next. This isn’t inherently bad, as a game shouldn’t hold your hand the entire time, but a more in-depth tutorial would be useful to help get players up to speed with the game’s most important mechanics.
“There’s little to combat in Wizard with a Gun, making the whole experience feel relatively simple.”
When exploring, you can scan objects of interest to add them as lore and even unlock the ability to craft them. Although, the scanning process is far too lengthy, and you frequently get interrupted by enemies attacking you. Scanning enemies is an impossible and often futile endeavor as if they notice you, they will either run away or attack you.
In terms of combat, Wizard with a Gun employs an isometric twin-stick shooter point of view. Aiming and shooting are done with your mouse, and a dodge roll is mapped to the space bar. Regrettably, there’s little more to it, making the whole experience feel relatively simple. Some nuances to combat include enchanted bullets, which can be researched and crafted, including fire, ice, and ones that charm enemies to fight alongside you.
Furthermore, upgrading your bullets’ damage is a lengthy process, requiring specific buildings to be built for research, and isn’t particularly worthwhile as the damage buff is minor at best. There is also a reload mechanic, which feels rather redundant in what should be a fast-paced game, as it makes combat far slower than it needs to be.
On a positive note, there is a good variety of guns to use, including pistols, blunderbusses, submachine guns, and rifles. However, the drop rates for weapons are incredibly low, forcing you to use your weak starting pistol for many of the opening hours. To alleviate this, an NPC called Young Joshua can craft even better guns for you. You do need to locate him first, though, and if you struggle to do so, you can be left without any interesting guns for far too long.
“The Wild West meets dark-arcane-fantasy visual theme is unique and impressive.”
Alas, Wizard with a Gun is not that much fun solo, and you’ll really need to play with others in order to get the most enjoyment out of it. It’s a shame, too, as other games in this genre excel when played alone. To make matters worse, there’s only a 2-player co-op, which feels disappointing when considering that the game would likely be significantly more fun with up to 4 players at a time.
Although there are some positives to Wizard with a Gun; the stylized visuals and impeccable art design make Wizard with a Gun pop with color, helping to give the Shatter and Tower a most distinct and immersive feel. Additionally, the Wild West meets dark-arcane-fantasy visual theme is certainly unique and very impressive, although it’s hard not to notice how much of an influence the Don’t Starve series has had on this game.
When it comes to performance, Wizard with a Gun performs quite well. I managed to get incredibly smooth frame rates and quick load times on an RTX 3080. There is also the option to play with an uncapped framerate, which is a nice feature for those who want it. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t offer too much in terms of accessibility options, but there are a plethora of languages to choose from.
“Wizard with a Gun doesn’t fulfil its potential”
It’s clear that a lot of heart and soul was poured into Wizard with a Gun from Galvanic Games. Visually, it’s a delight, with the unique environmental design and cinematic cutscenes making it a truly immersive experience. There are also some good ideas on play here that could have led to a very special and engrossing roguelite experience.
Despite some creative concepts, Wizard with a Gun feels like a game that lacks the typical polish that we have come to expect from a typical Devolver Digital game. It’s possible as time goes on, the game might become a more complete game, but for now, Wizard with a Gun doesn’t fulfil its potential.
*Disclaimer: Reviewed on PC; code was provided by the Publisher.
Wizard with a Gun Review
Wizard with a Gun is a visually distinctive indie sandbox survival game with roguelike elements that doesn't quite live up to its potential, leaving a lot to be desired.