Friday, April 17, 2009

A Wizard's Odyssey Review


Okay so if you couldn't tell already, I am massive dork. So when I review a game like A Wizard's Odyssey I might (just maybe) turn into a dork snob and become a tad hypercritical. Any sort of fantasy-based, dungeon crawling, level-upping gets my attention and then I tend to apply high standards that comes with playing so many games within this genre. So you may want to take the C rating lightly.

Anyhow, A Wizard's Odyssey is basically the only game of this sort on XBCG and that's because it's not a simple type of game to make - you need loads of content, believable graphics and animations, a leveling system, strong collision detection, a quest system, a map interface, spell effects, etc etc. Oh and story helps.

I enjoyed what the game set up in terms of mood, with a storyboard intro, solid fantasy-style music, and old skool world map. However, the story was picked right from the cliche tree of boringness and combined with the graphics squeezed from mediocrity fruit. It just feels a bit cardboard, where as I think if the developer had focused on polishing one OR the other, I'd have much better taste in my mouth. Or some might argue that the third major staple in this genre is LOOT, and this game is shallow there as well. I don't need/want loot farming personally, but it's a decent hook and kept me playing Diablo for far too long.

Some other things done right - the four spells (earth, fire, wind, heart? - please email if you understand that reference and we'll do coffee) are fun to play around with and they each do serve a purpose that can be put to use strategically. See, you play a wizard, so there is no sword swinging. The dev decided to have 'wind' be a sort of melee attack, while fire creates a standard ranged attack, and earth is a mid range AoE attack - not too shabby. And these elemental spells can be upgraded to become more satisfying and powerful. And while the graphics may not be impressive, I was impressed by the wide range of foes developed (granted they are not original either, but there's a ton of 'em!). Last, the game supports multiplayer - something I would have liked to have tested.

Again, to be clear, I greatly appreciate this entry into XBCG and it's impressive accomplishment for any solo/small team effort - it just unfortunately doesn't meet most of the standards that players tend to place on this genre nowadays. I had fun mashing through enemies and getting a dose of fantasy gaming, but there just wasn't anything to sink my nerdy teeth into. As mentioned, if the dev would go back to upgrade the graphics (more the textures actually), or add a compelling backstory/setup I think it would make a huge difference.

If you're looking for an experience that might remind you of the original Gauntlet, or want some casual spellcasting dungeon crawling, grab the demo and see if it works for you. It's the best of it's kind at the moment. (400 MP)

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