A Wizard’s Lizard: What We Think
When a powerful wizard discovers the ability to subvert the permanent effects of death, the Grim Reaper himself takes notice. Not wanting to give up his death-grip on deciding who lives and who dies, he transports the wizard away. It’s up to you, his pet lizard, to track your master through a series of ever-changing dungeons.
The bright, cartoon-like art design of A Wizard’s Lizard is just the light coat of paint on a deep, procedurally generated action RPG adventure. Your travels will take you to the afterlife and back, with each foray into the “nevermind” offering the chance to become a little bit stronger. It’s charming, engaging and a ton of fun to play. It’s also coded entirely in HTML5.
Dying is Easy
The game is a top-down action RPG with twin-stick controls, and comparisons to The Legend of Zelda and The Binding of Isaac are obvious. Move the lizard using the left analog stick, and fire projectiles in a direction by pointing the right stick accordingly. Each new room will lock the exits from it until all enemies have been defeated.
The levels are procedurally generated, so you can forget about planning an assault by rote; you’ll never get the same dungeon layout twice. Each level features a boss enemy that is just as likely to appear in the third room you explore as the final spot on your map. Defeating the boss will offer up access to a new item, and the door to the next level.
Collect loot that you find along the way. You’ll only be able to use it to purchase items from stores you discover in the mazes, as dying resets your cash to zero. Watch for civilians in the maze, as rescuing them will add start-up cash to a chest that awaits you when you begin your game in town.
If on your trek, you come across a merchant that sells blueprints, purchasing one will unlock another item in the town shop. As more weapons, armor and items become available, you can at least give yourself an edge before taking on the graveyard for the umpteenth time.
Mortal Coil Shuffleboard
So the horde of baddies proved overwhelming, and you had all your precious hit points beaten out of you. No biggie! Your brush with your master’s magic experiments allows you to slough off your deceased carcass and traverse the afterlife dimension.
If anything, the spectral plane is far better lit than the land of the living. Make use of the improved optics to seek out a way back to your physical body, though, as your next death will be the regular old permanent kind.
Good news! Your liberated astral projection can also access areas that you couldn’t whilst bound to your meat stocking. Keep an eye out for block-surrounded sections that house keys. If you can grab onto one, you may find the chest that it eventually opens. Powerful items are yours if you can find both key and chest. If anything, once you’ve located a dungeon’s arcane circle, take the death, grab the key, and then reclaim your body.
Bad news! You remember all those creatures you forced into taking a dirt nap while you were alive? A lot of them have left behind enraged spirits with long memories. As if some of the more crowded rooms weren’t causing you enough of a headache, you’ll also have to contend with the vengeance-starved miscreants that you already dealt with previously.
Gripes – They’ll be the Death of Me
The items on display don’t come with any sort of helpful description. I can see that the abacus will cost me 2500 gold, but what does it do exactly? An option to purchase after hearing a brief performance synopsis would have been appreciated. Once acquired, you can see the description of anything you’ve unlocked in the town museum, but before that, you’re purchasing blindly.
The music is solid, but you can clearly distinguish the point at which the tracks loop, as there is the briefest of pauses. For whatever reason, each time this moment came up it hit me like a pill I hadn’t swallowed properly.
Because of the proc-gen nature of the game, some rooms are going to be almost empty while some are like stumbling into a demonic version of Fight Club. It makes for a challenge, certainly, but some might feel a bit slighted when an otherwise successful dungeon crawl is up-ended by stepping into what can amount to the killing floor at the abattoir.
Death is But a Door. Time is But a Window. I’ll Be Back
Die, come back, and die some more. The ever-changing levels make sure that regardless of how many times you’ve attempted a dungeon, it’s a new adventure every time. A Wizard’s Lizard is cute, smart, and incredibly deadly.
Watch the official trailer for A Wizard’s Lizard: