I must admit, it was that wacky title that first drew me to this game. When it was first revealed two years ago, the amusing concept and great trailer art immediately caught my eye – who wouldn’t be excited at the idea of playing as a wizard with a gun? Now that the game is finally released, I can safely say it has lived up to the initial hype I once felt.
While some parts of the game can feel a little slow and the overall experience isn’t very long, Wizard with a Gun more than makes up for it with its vibrant art, engaging gameplay, customisation options and co-op potential.
Set in the Shatter, a world that is rapidly falling apart around you as the forces of Chaos take control, you find yourself able to turn back the wheels of time and reset the world when it ends – each time getting a little further. As a Gunmancer, who can combine their firearm with powerful magical abilities, you’ll explore, fight enemies, and unlock new areas before you return to the Tower, your safe haven where you can upgrade your gear, learn new spells or just rest and recuperate.
With a sandbox structure and simple but tight and satisfying action-based gameplay, Wizard with a Gun simply feels fun to play. The base movement can feel a little slow at times, and resource gathering can feel a little tedious, but it’s never a major issue. The controls are also easy to learn and feel responsive – even if I did get stuck on the odd tree or destroyed ground tile while in the middle of a fight.
With only a limited amount of time until the world ends, battles are fast-paced and full of adrenaline, as players need to strategise on the fly to make sure they return home safely while still accomplishing their goals. The screen did have a tendency to get a little overcrowded with visual noise, and while that could be frustrating, it felt like part of the challenge.
Despite the short time frame for each run, this open world feels quite limitless, with plenty of room to explore and discover NPCs and enemies alike. There are four main bosses, plus the final boss, and even more mini-bosses and tough enemies scattered in between, within a number of different biomes. The game is not too difficult, but it certainly presents a challenge and a wide world to explore, with more scheduled to be added in later updates.
Wizard With a…Machine Gun?
While fun, being able to dress up your character at the start of the game is far from the only customisation option present in Wizard with a Gun. Spells are divided into different categories, with certain varieties having their own abilities – burning enemies, freezing them, charming them, poisoning them, electrocuting them and much more. There’s plenty of room for experimentation, with players able to specialise in one branch of magic, switch between branches or combine them together to create their ideal wizard. You can also choose from a number of different gun styles or use powders to augment your spells’ effects.
The basic mechanics of shooting enemies are satisfying, but being able to choose the playstyle that works best for you just takes it to the next level. It also keeps the game feeling fresh, as you’re constantly improving your spells, unlocking new bullet types and trying out new strategies to defeat bigger and tougher enemies.
Customisation also expands to your home base, otherwise known as the Tower. Aside from the tools and workbenches you can use to research and create spells, potions and clothes, there are a huge number of decorative items as well. You can choose to keep your Tower as close as possible to its base state, with just the necessities, or go wild creating your perfect wizard tower. It’s fairly basic and nothing we haven’t seen before, but it does add even more fun and character if that’s something you’re interested in doing.
Wizard With Style
The gameplay may be fun, but it’s in the design where Wizard with a Gun really shines. The look of the game is striking, and the aesthetic combining classic fantasy design with a wild west twist consistently delights. The animation is also well done and at times adds an elaborate flair, but it never feels too slow or takes away from functionality.
For the most part, the NPCs in the game are simple. Aside from the bosses and one or two major characters, they only deliver a simple quest and reward, or a line of dialogue before delivering you to their storefront. But despite their simple routines, their fun and unique designs make them feel lively. The same goes for the world itself, with the various biomes and scenery mostly pulling from fairly standard fantasy game tropes, but they’re executed well.
The art and music of Wizard with a Gun didn’t blow me away, but it was charming and stylish, and there were a lot of little details that just added to the experience. From the guitar plucks on the main menu screen harmonising with the backing track to the way the mechanic gives you a little wave when you pass them by, the game’s art and aesthetics never failed to make me smile.
Wizard With a Friend (With a Gun)
The cooperative element of this experience isn’t particularly different from its single-player offerings. There are a few more monster spawns thrown in for balance, and dying transforms a player into a ‘ghost’ – allowing them to help out their friends while waiting to be brought back to life for the next round.
With no ways to communicate in-game, the co-op version isn’t the most in-depth – for a full experience, I would recommend playing co-op over a separate voice-chat software. But it works well, and it certainly allows for a lot of fun and multi-tasking not possible in single-player.
Being able to pursue the different disciplines of magic also adds to the dynamic nature of the co-op version, allowing players to all use different playstyles to offset each other’s weaknesses and build a strong team of wizards. Or annoy their friends by setting everything on fire around them. Either way is a fun time.
To put it simply, Wizard with a Gun is a blast to play. With its fast-paced action forcing the player to think on the fly and tons of customisation options, I found it hard to put this one down.
While it’s no great innovator and could stand to be a little longer, the mechanics and world are well-executed – not to mention the music and slick art which elevates this to a game that is hard to forget.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Highlights: Amazing art and great music, fun customisation options and lovable NPCs
Lowlights: Resource gathering can feel tedious at times and the game is fairly short
Developer: Galvanic Games
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Platforms: Windows PC, PS 5, X Box Series
Review conducted on Windows PC with a code provided by the publisher.