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October 2023

Evil Wizard

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X
Genre: RPG/Action
Publisher: E-Home Entertainment
Developer: Rubber Duck Games
Release Date: May 25, 2023


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PC Review - 'Evil Wizard'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on May 24, 2023 @ 8:00 a.m. PDT

Evil Wizard is a humor-filled Metroidvania-inspired action-RPG that puts you in the shoes of a defeated 'Final Boss' in their quest for revenge against the cursed hero.

Evil Wizard puts you in control of an evil wizard. He is the big final boss of a dungeon, and a group of heroes has come knocking on his door. During the epic "final" battle, his magical staff is sundered, and he's kicked out of his own home. Luckily for him, that is when you, The Player, come along. Having a player means he's now aware that he's the protagonist of this particular story, and he sets out to reclaim his evil throne from the forces of Good — or at least the forces of Vaguely Trying to Be Good.

Evil Wizard is a very silly and self-aware game. It spends only the barest amount of time on the basic setting before it launches into nonstop jokes about video games and video game tropes. You'll meet a down-on-his-luck knock-off of Geralt who is struggling after a bunch of "punks" ruined his reputation, a plucky young boy who fights using elemental-themed marketable monsters, and more. Every other line is a reference to something, sometimes obliquely and sometimes directly. (An early joke, for example, references that the Evil Wizard thought you were playing on a PlayStation controller when he told you to press X.) While there's a plot, it's mostly a delivery vehicle for exceedingly goofy plotlines.

When it comes down to it, the humor is what will make or break Evil Wizard. It's very much in the vein of something like "Family Guy," where the references and inside jokes are expected to do a lot of the lifting. How much you'll enjoy it depends on how much of a tolerance you have for that type of humor and how many games you've played. The references come in at a quick pace, but it's difficult to imagine most things hitting as well if you don't get what they're joking about. If it works for you, it can really work, but if it doesn't, it's so prevalent that it can be intolerable. It's not necessarily a flaw, but you need to make sure that your humor meshes with the game.

Evil Wizard's basic gameplay is standard action-RPG. You've got a melee attack, a ranged attack, and a dash. Melee attack can be spammed rapidly, ranged attacks come in different elemental flavors, and dash lets you dodge through foes. Thankfully, the game is pleasantly responsive and easy to pick up and play. While more mechanics are introduced as it goes along, they don't tend to break the basic mold of the game. Healing is largely done by "finishing" weakened foes, which recover health but require a lengthy wind-up animation.

The core element (pun intended) of the combat system is the Evil Wizard's ability to manipulate magic based on his surroundings. You only start with fire, but as the game progresses, you'll unlock the ability to use more elements. You "charge" up an element by draining it from a nearby source of that element (e.g., plants for earth, torches for fire, machines for lightning). Once you have drained it, that element becomes your ranged attack, with each one functioning differently. While you begin with only one slot, you can upgrade to multiple slots and distinct abilities.

Elements have two purposes. In combat, they are used to fight enemies, and there's a wheel of elements where each element is strong against another one. Picking the right element for a fight not only massively increases the damage you do but can also offer other benefits. If you're fighting an enemy in an enclosed arena surrounded by water, you can use ice to free the water and give you more room to move around. Occasionally, you'll have to work around your limitations. In the aforementioned Pokemon-style battle, you have to fight a fake Bulbasaur, Blastoise and Charizard, and if you don't have enough upgrades, you might have to choose if you want to go in at a handicap for the earlier fights or a later one.

The second major use is in puzzle-solving. Each element naturally has different effects, and having those available elements allows you to progress in the plot or find hidden areas that contain upgrades and sealed ducks, which serve as one of the game's primary collectibles. Some areas might require you to figure out how to carry an element from one point to another, while others encourage you to come back with later-game upgrades to get things that you missed. It gives the title a Metroidvania feel.

Like the combat, Evil Wizard's exploration is fun, if not exceptional. It's neat to explore areas and figure out when and where to do certain things to unlock secrets, and there's a surprising amount of variety to the level layout. The game guides you on fairly specific paths, but you're often allowed to head away from the beaten path. It's a solidly designed castle, and there's a good amount of encouragement to explore beyond the main story path.

The graphics in Evil Wizard are a delightful treat. The character sprites and animations are wonderful and often pleasantly detailed, with a lot of cute little touches. Environments are colorful and vivid, and there's a lot of incredibly cute little jokes to be found. (I am particularly fond of the Evil Wizard hugging his Hollow Knight plush during loading screens.) The voice acting is also pretty good in a Saturday morning cartoon sort of way, although it's limited, and the music is also solid. It's a delightful-looking little game and carries a lot of its humor through graphics.

The worst thing that I can say about Evil Wizard is that it isn't really anything new. A malicious black mage-looking bad guy battling heroes who are actually villains is a well-worn trope at this point, and the combat and general exploration is fun but somewhat unmemorable. It's a fun game through and through, but it's also exactly what it says on the tin, and it revels in it. Evil Wizard offers goofy humor, video game references, and fun combat — and sometimes, that's all that it needs to do.

Score: 8.0/10

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