A Wizard’s Lizard
Windows, Mac, Linux
Developer: Lost Decade Games
Developed by Lost Decade Games, and initially released on June 16th, 2014 to Windows, Mac, and Linux systems via Steam, A Wizard’s Lizard is a rogue-like dungeon crawler that takes heavy inspiration from indie game icon The Binding of Isaac. As Raga, you will embark on a quest to save your master from Death and control the very power of death itself.
The story for A Wizard’s Lizard is rather simplistic and basic in nature. It doesn’t really invigorate the player at all. It is a pretty boring, and cookie cutter story that doesn’t really add any significant twists. Along your travels you will be destroying many chaotic creatures and undead on your quest to rescue your master from Death himself. Along the way you will tear through hordes of enemies, topple large bosses, and rescue townspeople that will add extra money to your starting amount giving you more capital to play with. Playing through the levels over and over and rescue more people and use the gold in dungeon to purchase upgrades, and weapons to progress further in the levels and save your master.
As you progress through your repeated playthroughs you will find items and upgrades that will change your weapons and abilities. You have three main abilities, the first of which is the weapon you have. Using the corresponding buttons, your character will throw swords, axes, lance or daggers in that direction which is used to kill opposing monsters and generally bad things.
Other than the weapons, the game also features equipment pickups. You can pickup boots that can upgrade your health or even a hat that makes you levitate. A huge annoyance about these pickups is that you can’t see what the items do to your stats making it hard to choose from two different helmets. There are also totems which you can have one of at a time. You place them and they will stay and continue to attack depending on the kind of totem you currently have.
Power-Ups and Resurrection
The death and resurrection mechanic that this game uses is unique in that death isn’t the end. Dying will only put you into spirit mode which is where Raga (or whatever character your playing as) will turn white with a very bright glow. The entire room will become very bright and it will be easier to see what your traversing through and prevent falling to spikes and traps.
The huge downside is that now on top of fighting the skeletons and zombies, you will also be fighting the ghosts they can leave behind, where as in living form you can safely walk right through any ghosts that may wish to do you harm. A Wizard’s Lizard also features many weapons and pieces of equipment that Raga can use to destroy the dangerous and dispel the undead. They include all manner of weapons that can be thrown at enemies, from axes, that travel slowly but bounce off walls, to daggers that allow numerous amounts of daggers to be thrown at once, and even magical boomerangs that rip through enemies on the way to an enemy and back.
Even in my attempts to think of A Wizard’s Lizard as its own game, I kept finding myself thinking “this just feels like a cheaper Binding of Isaac.” While the developers have openly admitted that A Wizard’s Lizard does take heavy inspiration from The Binding of Isaac, it just seems like they pulled some things from that game and put slightly cheaper looking and feeling mechanics in their game. A Wizard’s Lizard does have a few mechanics that I have to applaud, such as the resurrection mechanic and that both life and spirit mode have benefits leading to strategic thinking in how to proceed and when is an appropriate time to die or resurrect. I am not a fan of the fact that you cannot see what each piece of equipment actually does to your stats often leading to a guessing game as to which pair of boots is better for your situation. A Wizard’s Lizard does deliver a fully playable game with a very clear and specific goal and simple controls, however it never quite seems to climb out of the shadow of other great rogue-like dungeon-crawlers to truly shine in its own right.