Title: Wizard with a Gun
Developer: Galvanic Games
Release Date: October 17, 2023
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Genre: Sandbox Action
Knowing how to expand the reach of a genre so its typical conventions don’t inherently turn potential newcomers away is no simple feat. It requires a degree of middle-ground finesse with notable innovation that takes time to craft. The Galvanic Games-developed and Devolver Digital-published survival action-adventure Wizard with a Gun embraces that notion strongly, partially due to its four years of development. And after playing it, I found it to compel me, a complete beginner with survival adventures.
Wizard with a Gun sets players in a decaying world as a customizable silent gunmancer tasked with cyclically rewinding time to ultimately prevent the reign of Chaos. To do so, you have to recover special artifacts capable of restoring the functionality of the Chronomancer’s Wheel, an integral device that performs the continual time rewounds. And the said device is located in the hub called the Tower, housing all of your necessities.
The premise of this title is overwhelming when initially introduced, no thanks to abundant tutorials that don’t do a satisfactory job of establishing what playing the game is actually like. But once you pass those early minutes, you’ll gradually uncover a truly addictive gameplay loop that’ll keep you invested for the long haul. To simplify things, you can classify the setting of Wizard with a Gun into two distinct areas: the Tower we’ve already mentioned and the Shatter, which you explore.
Of course, the Shatter is where you’ll expectedly spend the most time, but not in the way you would initially expect. As brought up earlier, rewinding time is a constant practice throughout this title, and it directly impacts the gameplay, instilling it with a sort of roguelite quality. When you begin, you’ll notice that you can only explore the Shatter for a few minutes, requiring you to accomplish as much as you can on the outside before retreating to the Tower, where time is at a standstill. The roguelite factor is evident when seeing the biomes of the Shatter randomly generated across each visit.
The general loop is comprised of you finding gears in the Shatter to fill out the Chronomancer’s Wheel in the Tower to unlock new areas, but there’s obviously quite a bit that goes into achieving that goal. For one, you have to be adequately equipped for the job. You’re able to craft and upgrade numerous guns, all boasting ammo with unique elemental properties that are then bolstered by synergy when utilizing them in tandem. This impressive customization also applies to supportive maneuvers and detrimental effects on enemies, like charm, opening the window for immense player individuality.
Despite being a game about crafting first and foremost, Wizard with a Gun has a notable array of combat options that should not be overlooked. In all honesty, the cycle of obtaining better gear was the crux of my motivation to keep playing, though that isn’t meant to downplay the efficacy of the other gameplay factors. Everything in Wizard with a Gun flows into each other elegantly, which makes sense when accounting for the limited time you have in the Shatter.
Everything you do on the outside has to count, and there’s, thankfully, not much room for you to waste time and discover nothing. The maps of the Shatter are rather compact and full of hoards of collectibles for crafting and overall progression purposes, alongside NPCs who grant vital info and recipes, as well as already planted spots for you to make items and such should they be needed.
It’s worth emphasizing that you don’t simply suffer from a Game Over if the timer in the Shatter runs out. The world just begins to end, though you still have ample time to retreat to the Tower and initiate a new cycle with the gears. In essence, the time limit isn’t a strict countdown you have to constantly stress about. It communicates urgency, yet not to a state of immediate peril, like, say, Majora’s Mask. You’re even able to gain more time while in the Shatter by defeating creatures spawned by the Chaos, who also drop the ever-useful Arcana crafting material.
The crafting is made quite convenient thanks to the appropriately named Worldbuilder that shoots out created recipes like a gun. This lets you essentially carry a portable crafting table with you, though only for basic structures. And a book called The First Edition, which, aside from housing lore for characters and items, is used as a tether to learn new recipes. All of these features just meld together so seamlessly once you play for enough hours, partially offsetting the rough start many beginners will have.
Yet another imperative tool is the Groundlayer which, as its name implies, literally lays tiles on the ground. These tiles act as makeshift bridges, enabling access to previously unreachable areas both in the Tower and the Shatter. Simply put, every tool matters. I had a blast learning how to swiftly and effectively switch up my loadout, but the enemies admittedly soured my attachment somewhat.
As gorgeous as the game is, the foes you’ll have won’t deviate much in practicality, meaning you’ll be able to take care of many of them without much thought. This is likely a consequence of feeling so powerful, chiefly in the later hours, that I wish it was diminished a bit so the crafting and upgrading would be made more vital.
On the other end of features, cosmetic variation is a notable practice you can pursue if you like, with the player character sporting neat-looking gear and environments able to be altered. Admittedly, none of that is really my thing, but it’s there if you’re into it.
Wizard with a Gun is an engaging action adventure that seamlessly blends roguelike and crafting elements. It initially feels slow in the opening hours, but players who stick with it will find themselves deeply immersed, enhancing their base and character. This game offers an enjoyable experience even if you’re not a survival genre enthusiast. Plus, its multiplayer functionality adds significant replay value, making it a well-rounded gaming choice. Don’t be deterred by a sluggish start; Wizard with a Gun has much to offer.
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