Some of our more loyal readers may remember that back in the Summer of ’13 I had the privilege of discussing an upcoming Indie game known as ‘Crypt Run’ with one of the developers at Lost Decade Games, Matt Hackett. Well, the time has finally come for me to check out the release version of that game – only a few rather substantial changes have been made since that first interview.
The game is now known as A Wizard’s Lizard, a change that was for story telling purposes as the player controlled character is no longer a random dungeon exploring goon, but as the game’s title suggests, you are a Wizard’s Lizard – furthermore, a Lizard that is surprisingly adept in the use of Daggers, Swords, Spears and Axes. Thankfully however, the ‘Binding of Isaac’ meets ‘Zelda’ style of gameplay remains the same and is mostly unchanged since my first time playing the Alpha version of the game. Along with this, the smooth 2D graphics I appreciated so much initially has actually improved immensely throughout the progression of the game with the addition of newer areas, enemies and weapons. I actually have to give huge credit to Matt and Geoff for designing what is hands down one of my favourite 2D art styles i’ve seen in a while, with perhaps the exception of Battleblock Theater last year.
This mechanic gives you abilities to pass through certain world assets upon death, whilst also challenging you further with extra enemies that you have killed in previous dungeons. It is possible to bring yourself back to life by standing upon a Pentagram for a short amount of time, but if you die as a Ghost then it’s game over for you. Honestly, this is a great mechanic that really adds an air of individuality to the title and even adds a little more intensity to the gameplay. Many times I have been hanging onto my last thread of health in death form when I found a room where I could restore myself to the realm of the living… of course it was filled to the brim with zombies, ghosts and grave-robbers. This kind of moment is what truly captures the essence of this game, the sheer amount of “OH, GOD DAMNIT” moments that make you really lock in to the game as you desperately try and dodge your way around the hordes of enemies really brings a feeling that you are playing a retro 90s game to the forefront of the experience.
And it’s that feeling I really want to talk about. This game is hard. It might not be ‘Dark Souls’ hard, but it is certainly challenging enough to remind of the days when you wouldn’t have tutorials shoehorned down your throat and you were more likely to fail a thousand times over than succeed even once. I have never played a game before where my most feared enemy was an Owl (Owls are OP), but this is that game. Hordes of enemies, lightening fast radius traps that will zoom over to ram a spike inside of you, challenging bosses, Chests that attack you if you try and open them and enemies that have made barrels their home – this game will surprise you and challenge you at every turn. You will not have an easy run through in this game, and I appreciate that.
However, it’s time to change this article from a sales pitch to a review. Is this game perfect? No. It’s an Indie game. We don’t want it to be perfect, but it does have it’s issues. The twin stick nature of the controls makes it somewhat difficult to play on a keyboard at times, and i’d certainly recommend using a controller. Diagonal attacks and movement with a keyboard is quite frankly a pain in the ass, at least on my Keyboard. Along with this, the weapon system is a little spam heavy and perhaps it could be better balanced by reducing the attack rate and increasing the damage – and for the benefit of your own Ears try to avoid hitting one of the Battle-axes between two close together walls or object. Trust me.
My major concern of the game however is whether the longevity and amount of content in the game matches up with the price tag. Although I think $15 is a reasonable amount of money for what is ultimately an arcade style game designed to challenge you and encourage you to get the highest score possible in your play-though, a lot of people expect a lot more for your money. When people can complain about the amount of content in ‘Halo: Spartan Assault‘, a $15 title on the Xbox One and Windows 8.1 platforms, it’s a little worrying for the future of Indie developers who couldn’t possibly compete with that scale of game for the same price tag. Whilst the game is fun and challenging on numerous levels, it may not be enough for some people.
This game is Indie in it’s purest and most brilliant form. This is a game made by a small group of people who love what they do. This is a game you can tell that the guys at Lost Decade Games really put in everything they loved from playing games when they were younger – and that is something to be admired.
This game is currently in the Steam Greenlight program and is already available at www.awizardslizard.com so be sure to hit that like button on Greenlight if this is something you’re interested in – games that come to Steam through Greenlight always have a few tweaks before being introduced into the Store, so I can’t wait to see the improvements if it does get Greenlight. I for one fully support this game, and it’s developers – and I hope you do too.
**Note, whilst the game has no multiplayer it does have a high score system that would certainly give you the opportunity to challenge your friends, and so the multiplayer has been scored through that idea.**