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Wizard With a Gun Review - The Magic Bullet?


Wizard With a Gun Review by SilentSigns

PC/XBOX/PS

Galvanic Games/Devolver Digital

10/16/23


Wizard With a Gun is the most literal title I have ever encountered. BRACE YOURSELVES: You play as a wizard...with a gun trying to restore a world in ruin by collecting cogs to roll back time. I won't waste your time delving further into the plot as that's really all you'll need to know to get the gist of who you are and what you're doing, and the story isn't exactly a focal feature of this title. What stands front and center is the gameplay loop, which has a heavy emphasis on collecting resources and crafting.


You'll begin by decking out your faceless wizard in the finest of wares in the customization menu and from there you are released into a brief tutorial where you'll learn the ropes. Hit objects to collect enough materials to craft weaponry, then use weaponry to collect more materials and build up your arsenal to take on more powerful foes all in the hopes of collecting cogs to roll back the hands of time.


wizard in a dark room
Don't expect fast paced action in Wizard With a Gun

Wizard With a Gun can be played single player or online co-op, though at the time of this review there were some issues with setting up co-op sessions, so we were only able to test this in a single gameplay session. This was a known issue, so I do hope this is resolved by the time of release as this title is best enjoyed as a collaborative effort.


You have a hub world called "The Tower" where you can research more powerful magic and weaponry, store precious cargo, and generally collect your thoughts and strategize your next plan of attack. Enhancements made to The Tower are permanent, so you do not have to fear losing items and crafting stations stored there. Within this fortress you'll also be able to equip enchantments to your gear that can enhance your stats in various ways.


When you're fully stocked with bullets, potions and guns, you roll back the hands of time using the Chronomancer's Wheel to enter the gameplay world of "The Shatter." Once in The Shatter you have a 5-minute countdown to chaos, after which all literal and metaphorical hell breaks loose and you'll be attacked from every angle by what I can only describe as biblically accurate Strawberry Twizzlers. Within this fractured reality, you must track down the Riders, which hold cogs that will allow you to turn back time further to progress the game and *hopefully* save the world. So, no pressure!


If you manage to collect a cog or other valuable resources in the Shatter, your best bet is to floor it to the exit portal to return to the Tower, otherwise you run the risk of losing everything. That's right, if you lose your life in the Shatter, you return to the Tower empty handed. All of the ammo and potions you used in your attempt will still be depleted, and without any of the resources you gathered you are essentially back to square one. Unfortunately, some valuable items can only be acquired after chaos sets in, so it may be in your best interest to stick around at least a little while to see what you can find.


green plant monster
The visuals and sound design are impressive

Now, if you do manage to find success in the Shatter, take on the the guardians of the cogs and bring your spoils home, you'll be rewarded with a new area to explore featuring different types of resources, enemies, structures and materials. Oh, but don't forget the bosses. Within the confines of the 5-minute doom timer, you'll need to find where the boss is hiding out, take on their guardians and enter their domain (with hopefully enough firepower and potions) in order to collect the final cog, you'll need to progress. If this sounds like a big ask, that's because it is. Finding and defeating bosses does not come easy and will require a fair bit of collecting and grinding through the same areas over and over again. You might start to question your own sanity doing the same thing over and over again in the hopes of improving, but it is possible to get there.


Obviously, your firepower and equipment are important in this title, but there is also a considerable emphasis placed on documenting and studying the environment of The Shatter and its inhabitants. You'll do this by wielding your book, called the First Edition. Notating the first edition will grant you access to additional enchantments, but it is not as simple as taking out your notebook and a pen. You'll have to hold you book up to fearsome foes, rendering you essentially defenseless in the process, all the while attempting to dodge their attacks until a meter fills up, which will indicate successful research.


There's so much more to this game, like ground-buidling guns, furnaces, bullet upgrades, magic powders and composting, but this gives you a pretty good idea of whether or not you're going to have a good time in Wizard With a Gun and, unfortunately, I did not.


As a casual fan of games like "Don't Starve Together," elements like creating research stations, gathering rare materials and enhancing my power were appealing to me, but the biggest downfall of this title is the doom timer. For a game with such a heavy emphasis on exploration, it's difficult to do so with any sort of success when the world is about to end at any moment. This means that, more often than not, you're going to end up running away from danger in the hopes of salvaging some valuable finds rather than risking it all. Honestly, while I see the purpose of the timer, I do wish there was more of a sandbox mode that could be toggled on that would allow you to explore at your leisure because it's quite easy to become frustrated at your slow progress due to the pressure placed on you from that timer. It took a lot of fun out of this title for me and feels like a way to pad the length of the game by making progress feel painfully slow and arduous.


dark room
It's the griiiiiind

Despite the pressure placed on you by the timer, pretty much everything else in the game is slow. Researching creatures and items with the first edition is slow, your run is slow, your furnace is PAINFULLY slow. It's an odd combination that ultimately makes you feel like you're running through molasses on a deadline.


Nothing feels worse than returning to The Tower empty handed and having to start a run from scratch. There's a lot of retreading and re-retreading here, and I think that lack of tangible progress is going to turn a lot of folks off.


Honestly the saving grace of Wizard With a Gun is the visual and audio design. Cutscenes are gorgeously drawn, and the graphical style will look familiar to those who have played other Galvanic Games titles like Some Distant Memory, even down to the color palate. There's some creative enemy designs and environmental elements that make it visually pleasing, despite some framerate hiccups. These hitches would occur every so often and were jarring to say the least, but not all that frequent.


For me, it was the soundtrack that kept me going. The dynamic songs that change based on location and circumstances are the most rewarding aspect of the entire experience. Its mysterious and captivating with sparse acoustic guitars, epic drum beats and rousing keyboard lines. Nice touches like different notes being strummed as you highlight menu options truly adds to the overall atmosphere.


While I certainly won't be off to see the wizard again anytime soon, I do think this experience could be improved upon with some additions like a sandbox mode to turn the timer off and explore, and ways to expedite the slower points of the game like the furnace and composting. Until then, the magic of Wizard With a Gun is lost on me.


PROS

+ Dynamic sound design

+ Lots of ways to customize

+ Appealing art and cutscenes


CONS

- Slow progression

- Repetitive gameplay

- THAT DAMN TIMER!

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