Wizard With A Gun Review - The Magic of a Bullet
The world is broken. As one of the last Gunmancers, wizards who have imbued their bullets with the ancient elemental magics, you search for the gears of the Chronomancer’s Wheel, a magical artefact that can reset time to five minutes before the end of the world. Only by rebuilding the wheel will you be able to face and destroy the Chaos that has brought your world to ruin. To survive this journey, you will need to build up your arsenal, harvesting resources from both enemies and the environment to forge ever more powerful bullets fired from ever more powerful guns. Be warned though, while death is not the end of the game there is nothing worse than losing your hard-won spoils of battle as the world collapses around you, preventing you from accessing the sanctuary of the tower.
Developed by Galvanic Games and published by Devolver Digital, Wizard with a Gun is a game that combines an open-world sandbox survival game with a roguelite third-person twin-stick shooter. As the player rebuilds the Chronomancer’s Wheel and traverses through the four different biomes, they will find crafting materials that will allow them to increase the power of their spells and enchantments, greatly increasing their chances of survival and allowing them to continue into newer and far more dangerous territory. The combat is fairly simple, boiling down to shooting and dodging, but the choice of ammunition will allow you to engage your enemies in different ways. Facing a creature of flesh and bone? Fire bullets will help burn it and surrounding enemies and structures. Enemies standing in a river? A shock bullet will spread through the water, sending electricity damage to anything that happens to be in the water around your target. Once you gain access to your second iteration of weapons you will be able to slot two bullet types into each gun, and various combinations of bullets that can be utilised to maximise the damage to your enemies or, if you are playing with a friend, help to keep each other alive and in the game.
Your base of operations, a ruined tower that exists outside of time and space, is where you return between expeditions to the main world. Starting with only a few basic machines, as you collect ingredients and harvest Arcana from creatures of chaos you will be able to craft a bunch of different pieces of equipment that will help you progress on your journey. If you are the sort of person that gets into base building you can also kit out your tower, utilising the plans for items and furniture found in the world to decorate your tower and make it feel like your own home away from the end of the world home. While the crafting system can be frustrating at first as you try to figure out what creature you can get a specific item from, you generally won’t have too much trouble. Pay attention to what the pieces are called. If you are after some charcoal but don’t have a furnace to create it on your own, burning bullets will reliably drop charcoal pieces when used on trees. If in doubt, experiment with the different bullet types and see what drops. When it comes to the crafting system Wizard with a Gun only gives you the bare minimum information, but over time you will know how to find whatever particular ingredient you need to create ammo or the various buffs that help to strengthen them.
Most of your time will be spent trying to survive in the main world. This world starts small and is literally full of holes that can impede your exploration until you unlock a special gun that allows you to build floor pieces. The goal is to find the gears to repair the wheel and with only five minutes on the clock every time you enter the world you can be forgiven for feeling a bit rushed and overwhelmed. This is where the Chaos Rifts come into play. With two different variants in play, the Chaos Rifts present you with an opportunity to increase the time you have to spend in the world. There is an aspect of luck to finding the Dormant Rifts, which can boost your timer by a couple of minutes, but these rifts can allow you to maximise each run, whether it be finding as many gears as possible or farming ingredients for ammo and potions.
While the core gameplay loop is solid and kept me engaged with the game, Wizard with a Gun is not without a few flaws that can put a sour note on a player’s enjoyment. While most of these are superficial, such as inventory management limitations, it is the lack of real challenge in the combat that sticks out to me the most. As I journeyed through the game world the enemies in each new area seemed to be variations of each other, at least when it came to the way their attacks worked. Apart from one or two specific examples, there didn’t seem to be much difference in the ways enemies attack between the different biomes. There also seems to be an imbalance between the bullet types, with certain elemental bullets providing more benefits than others of the same level, though this is something that can easily be balanced out with a patch in the future.
Despite these few flaws, Wizard with a Gun is a solid little game that you can play in small bite-sized chunks where you only do one expedition at a time, or in larger more in-depth sessions. While it does have some flaws, you cannot go wrong if you are a fan of crafting and survival games and want that nervousness that comes with the risk of losing everything if you manage to die.
Wizard with a Gun was reviewed on PC with code kindly supplied by Devolver Digital