By Michael Fontanini / January 30th, 2017
|Release Date||September 27, 2016|
|Genre||Indie, RPG, Rogue-Like|
|Platform||Steam (Windows and Mac)|
Welcome to Rilfanor, a land populated by two main races. They are the elam and the banlits. The elam are aristocrats, descended from the first humans of Rilfanor. The banlits were originally those people born without magical ability, but recently something odd has begun to happen. A shift in the balances of the natural world is starting to make itself known. Elam magic is weakening and certain banlits have discovered they have magical ability, and you are one of them. The evil wizard, Hosperak, has possessed the six wizards of the Council that rules the elam. Can you save the world with some help from others like you, or will Hosperak’s ambition destroy it?
Rogue Wizards has two main game modes: story and gauntlet. The Story mode is the main campaign and is more forgiving. Death in Story mode returns you to the hub area, the hidden town of Antarit. It’s more forgiving than Gauntlet mode, because you still have all the items you found in the dungeon before your untimely demise. As you progress, you unlock more buildings in Antarit. At some of them, you can sell items you’ve found in the dungeons. This lets you turn unwanted items into money, which is good because some things are expensive! One building can store a limited number of items for you, too. The money you make can be used to upgrade buildings, or buy better gear, potions, and other various items. Most items are also found in dungeons.
In the Gauntlet mode, there is no town. Instead, your goal is to progress through increasingly difficult and deadly dungeons. If you die, it’s all over. Thus, you’ll have to be more careful about not getting cornered. There is a hall of fame screen under the menu in the house icon on the screenshot shown above. It shows the names of you and possibly your Steam friends once you’ve made it into the Hall of Fame. It has a separate Hall of Fame for Story and Gauntlet mode. There is also a harder difficulty level for story mode once you beat it.
The initial starting area is not a dungeon itself, and is the only place (aside from Antarit) that is not randomly generated. You will find a scroll here that binds itself to you when you read it. You will also find story scrolls during your travels, too. They will reveal more of the story as you advance. The first scroll is special in that it is a magical one that binds to you, but there are more like it. In the early game, you are tasked with finding some of the other people bound to the magic scrolls. They were scattered in the world to seek out those who might help stop the growing evil.
As you explore each dungeon, you will find new equipment and other items like magic essences, potions and keys. Each key can unlock one chest and potions heal you. As Rogue Wizards has RPG elements, you can also level up your character. This heals you and gives you points to spend on leveling up your attributes. There are three of them in Rogue Wizards. Power amplifies damage dealt by items and magic (for all damage types). Finesse affects how likely you are to block damage, get critical hits, disarm traps, or detect secrets. Lastly, the stamina attribute increases your maximum health. There are also some XP bonuses you can earn in each dungeon. They are earned by killing every enemy in the dungeon, opening every chest in the dungeon, and disarming every trap in the dungeon. Not all dungeons contain traps, though (particularly the early-game dungeons).
Antarit is the hub area in Rogue Wizards. It is a secret resistance town hidden from the Council by magic. This is because the six Council wizards have all been possessed by the evil wizard, Hosperack. You return to Antarit after every dungeon run or when you die. If you die, you will find that the items you gained are still in your inventory once back in Antarit. This might sound like it could make the game too easy, but it doesn’t. Instead, all that extra gear you find that you don’t want can be sold in shops in Antarit. This is the primary way to get money, which can be used to buy better equipment, magic essences (used for casting spells), keys, or potions. Money can also be used to upgrade some of the buildings. As you progress in story mode, more buildings will unlock in this town as well.
As you level up, you can also improve your skill at various spells. The first spell you learn is fireball, and you can continue to level it up even after you learn the tier-2 fire spell. There are six schools of magic in Rilfanor, and each of them has three tiers. The second and third tier spells in each school require you to reach a minimum level with your character before you will be able to unlock them with spell points. Spell points are earned when you level up. The schools of magic are fire, earth, sky (electricity), ice, nature, and cosmic. You can learn spells in multiple or all schools if you wish. All spells can be leveled up to make them more potent, too. Casting a spell costs magic essences of the corresponding type.
In Rogue Wizards, the player isn’t the only thing with stats; monsters have them and so do items. When you find a new item, you’ll want to mouse over it after picking it up. Doing so displays a popup showing its stats. If you have a weapon of the same type equipped on your action bar, it will show a second pane with that item’s stats as well. This lets you tell which item is better. Paying attention to your gear and upgrading it whenever you find something better is very important. You can’t rely on leveling up alone to stay strong enough to face the dungeons.
You may have noticed some buttons in the GUI in the image above. The house icon is the menu button (same as on the save slot screen shown earlier). The >> button in the lower left lets you skip a turn in battle. Rogue Wizards is a turn-based game, so battle is too. You can attack using any weapons you have if they’re in your action bar. However, switching to a different weapon on the action bar during battle will use up your current turn. You simply click on the enemy next to you, or push the movement key that would make you run into that enemy. Running into an enemy causes your character to attack it. When not in battle, you won’t notice that the game is turn-based since you have endless consecutive turns to move around. This makes movement feel more natural. There are also ranged weapons like bows, staffs, and chakrams.
In the pets screenshot above, there is a third GUI button in the upper right of the screen. It’s a magnifying glass beside your mini-map. Clicking on it opens the map screen, allowing you to see a larger area of the map. You can only see areas of the dungeon that you have been to. The blue up arrow mark on the map is the stairs to the previous floor. The green icon is the portal to leave the dungeon. The “Teleport to…” button lets you teleport to these locations. You may also see other icons on the map. One is a down arrow marking stairs down to the next floor. Another type of icon indicates the location of a discovered check point. You can warp to discovered check points, as well as to the entrance/exit points of the dungeon floor you’re on.
You always have several dungeons to choose from when it’s time for a new mission. As you progress, new harder types of dungeon missions become available with much more durable enemies and larger dungeons with more floors. Potions become very important in some of these! Most dungeons have a boss monster waiting at the end as well. These can be tough and having potions on hand is very helpful. You can’t stock up on potions to make it too easy, though; you’re only allowed to carry five at a time. If things go badly, you might arrive at the boss with no potions left! You will also periodically unlock special missions ending with a boss fight against one of the six Council wizards. Once all six of them are defeated, you can go on to challenge Hosperak. He is the evil wizard who possessed the Council wizards using powerful magic.
As you can see in the image above, the bottom of the inventory screen shows your basic stats (attack, defense, and health). You actually have two tabs of inventory space, which is nice. The third tab with the gold trophy on it is where your scrolls collection is. You can go here to reread the story scrolls you’ve found. The scroll on the lower left with 3 icons on it is where you go to spend skill points when you level up. The spell book at the top left is where you can go to review the spells you’ve learned so far.
You can see there are six equipment slots around the player. The red X on the shield slot means your currently selected weapon can’t be used with a shield. You can still leave the shield equipped. It just won’t do anything except when you’re using weapons that you can use a shield with. Each item has different stats, and many have perks. For example, it might add to your skill with bows, or be imbued with fire damage. The weapons you find will come in a number of types, including swords, spears, chakrams, bows, axes, canes, and staves. Each weapon type comes in a number of variations, too. The items highlighted yellow in your inventory are ones you haven’t looked at yet. When you mouse over it for the first time to view its stats, the yellow highlight will go away. This makes it easy to see which items are new and which are not.
Rogue Wizards is a very fun little game. It can be annoying on occasion, like in dungeons with tons of slimes. Some slimes can replicate and this can quickly become annoying. As you damage them, the clones they make will become smaller and weaker in subsequent spawns. This can still get crazy when you’re surrounded by lots of slimes, especially if other enemies are around too! One other area where the game can be annoying is when you unlock tier 2 and higher dungeons. The increase in difficulty from one tier to the next seems a bit excessive, as its a big step up from the previous tier. However, the higher tier dungeons are optional since you always have several dungeons to choose from. When entering one, make sure you’re maxed out on potions and have good armor and weapons! These tougher dungeons have a greater chance of dropping better gear for you, so they are rewarding if you emerge victorious!
The graphics are very nice, and so are the animations. The music is good and the Antarit theme can be a bit catchy, too. The sound effects are nice and add some depth. A good example is the sound of hitting a skeleton or it crumbling to the ground on death. As for the controls, you can move your character using the mouse (click where you want to move to) or use the keyboard. The controls can be edited in the menu, too.
Rogue Wizards is a very enjoyable game with an endless amount of random dungeons to explore and loot. Delving into the dungeons and seeing what you can find is satisfying, as is selling the junk items for profit. The harder level dungeons you can optionally choose in story mode tend to yield better items as well. The game is available on Steam for $14.99. Total playtime can vary wildly because the game doesn’t force you to advance the story. You can just keep doing non-story missions as much as you want, playing endless random dungeons. Each dungeon can take around 30 minutes to an hour (or potentially much more) depending on difficulty, the dungeon’s size, and your thoroughness. It’s a game you can spend a whole lot of time with, and that’s not even considering the Gauntlet mode. Rogue Wizards is the game that asks if you can defeat the six wizards of the Council and stop Hosperak to save all of Rilfanor.
Review copy provided by publisher.
Rogue WizardsSpellbind StudiosSteam