Just in time for Halloween, we have another dungeon for you. Welcome to your new home base, Antarit. You have been summoned here by a magic scroll—one of many sent throughout the realms to gather Banlits, like yourself, who can use magic and fight to overthrow the great evil threatening all.
New Twists to the Old Drill
Rogue Wizards is a standard turn-based RPG with a mostly stock back story, decent sound effects, and kid friendly visuals. The graphics make it easy to tell what you’re seeing, with a good level of detail and pleasing use of color. The world through which you travel is on an isometric square-based grid (although you can attack on the diagonal when you need to) with a neat twist regarding visibility. As you walk around and see more of the dungeon the level map will remember where you have been and provide an image of the locations of the walls, doors, waypoints, portals, and such (what you see on the main screen is a bit different). Your character can see all the details around him, but only for so far.
As you move, you see more of the area into which you are walking; the neat part is how the environment is introduced. Instead of a fade in, the bits of the world ascend and fit themselves into place. Likewise, as parts of the world pass out of your visual range those bits fall away.
Read the Story or Run the Gauntlet
The game actually has two modes of play: Story and Gauntlet. The Story option gives you the story experience with heroes and villains, allies, tragedy, victory, the whole bag of goodies. If you choose Story, you also get the option to play at either normal or hard; if you choose Gauntlet, all you get is hard—no story, just a progressively more challenging dungeon crawl until you achieve victory or die trying. Since Gauntlet is “hard,” death is permanent and each failure means “hello new character, start all over.”
I actually like the options the game provides. When you complete the Story version on normal you can try again with hard. Once you finish that, you can just do a dungeon crawl for a while. This provides very good value for the money with regard to how much play time you can get out of it.
All Sales Are Final
Once you start the game you’ll get the traditional walk through instructions, like how to use your backpack to hold and equip stuff, how to use your spell book, how to use the teleport system, etc.
The game could include a few more tutorial walk though sessions, but it does cover the basics. One word of caution—be very careful with your right click button when you are perusing your backpack; this is the “sell” button when you are talking to the wandering merchant or in any store in Antarit. There is no “confirm sale” dialogue, so one click and your trinket is gone.
By the way, that wandering merchant you find in the dungeon seems to get around a lot, just don’t expect him to be any help in a fight with the monsters you find.
Six Realms of Beasties
Speaking of monsters in a dungeon, there are an interesting variety of beasties, constructs, and characters to interest the curious wanderer. One of the creatures you may encounter is a sort of mud monster which flings mud at you. The interesting thing about this guy is how his attack is visualized—as a big splotch of mud on the screen. It becomes clear very quickly that a few more of these attacks and you may be blinded to everything around you. So, on the monster front, you get good variety and interesting effects.
The game will send you through six realms: Ice, Fire, Earth, Air, Nature, and Cosmic. The first realm you need to clear out is “Ice” so some of the monsters have, go figure, ice based attacks. This means as you try to walk around you will find yourself sliding on the ice and ending up not quite where you wanted to be. You’ll need to decide what weapon is best based on the environment, the monster(s), and how they attack you. Fortunately for you, the game allows you eight (count ‘em, eight!) equipment slots on top of what you are wearing/wielding. If you have a sword in your hand but you need a ranged weapon, you can swap it out with something in your ready slots. This does take one turn, so a little planning ahead is called for.
So Here It Is
Rogue Wizards is currently available on Steam for $14.99, and while some of the elements of the game are stock standard and a little predictable, the game is fun to play, engaging, and gets more challenging at a good pace. You even get to see some good-guys who wear glasses (a rare one, that). There are plenty of game elements to learn, lots of weapons and equipment and spells to use. The continuous upgrade chase keeps you looking for better gear, and the backpack lets you carry stuff you can sell so you have gold enough for what you really want. The game looks good, plays well, and has good play time. Taken all together, Rogue Wizards is a fun and mostly lighthearted dungeon crawl worth playing.