I tried. No, seriously. I tried my darnedest to beat A Wizard’s Lizard. But I couldn’t. I’m just not very good at it. Of course, that’s always been the point of these games. A somewhat procedurally generated death maze, in which all kinds of beasties are thrown at us and beat us into a corner. However, our resolve does not falter and we are more than happy enough to start the game over. Good thing there aren’t any quarters involved.
You remind me of the…
A Wizard’s Lizard is from a small team called Lost Decade Games. It’s not just a clever name for the studio. They seem intent on making you lose what feels like a decade of your time. The game is one of many in this homage genre to the Rogue of old, though some would argue otherwise. Personally, I couldn’t care less if you feel these game are “like” or “lite” when compared to Rogue. I’m going to just to declare here and now that they shall forever be called David Bowies. Why? Because like David Bowie, these games are best known for having a labyrinth and some pretty sweet music.
I need more dakka.
So you might be wondering what makes this David Bowie different from other David Bowies? Well I’ll be honest, the only one I’ve pumped a good chunk of my life in to was The Binding of Isaac. Although Isaac’s adventure revolves around how unfair life is with its random roulette of enemies and items, I could generally make the most out of the item drops and at least make it a decent way towards the end if I didn’t actually beat it. A Wizard’s Lizard is far less random. You can always count on certain rooms and obstacles being in the same level. Even the items don’t feel very randomized. Perhaps it’s just my luck, but they generally felt tiered with the levels. Once I found a sweet boomerang of murder and mayhem, but after several other play-throughs I’ve yet to see it again.
Death! We are surrounded by it!
Perhaps the game’s strongest trait is its take on death. Considering the theme of the game is to essentially beat Death, it is fitting that certain mechanics and strategies revolve around the act of dying. Whenever the adorable lizard perishes, he is given a second chance. He may continue onward as a ghost of sorts. However, things will be a bit different. It is likely that you’ve pummeled a few hordes on our way through the rooms. Some of them probably left a few lingering spirits behind. This can often result in a second chance with a ramped up difficulty since rooms could potentially have their enemy numbers doubled. Some areas can only be accessed while in ghost form, thus creating situations where it might be strategically viable to die, access an area, then try to find a means to resurrect.
A Wizard’s Lizard is quite aware of the fact that it attempts to join part of the David Bowie genre. It doesn’t attempt to trump any previous titles, and one could argue that the combat is less varied. Yet it does take a clever approach in the mechanics of death. I only hope I can get a little better so that poor lizard doesn’t have to endure any more fatalities.