Windows Central Verdict
Wizard with a Gun from Devolver Digital and Galvanic Games successfully builds an enthralling apocalyptic world with unique time and magic-based mechanics to power its addictive, roguelite gameplay loop. Some rough performance and visual edges detract from the magic, though.
Unique magic/combat system with lots of creative possibilities
Addictive roguelite gameplay loop set in a fascinating original world
Interesting art design and fantastic soundtrack, when it all works
Rough edges with the performance, visuals, controls, menus, and quality-of-life features
Accessibility and approachability are both lacking
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Roguelikes and roguelites are a special class of video game. The persistent "death is not the end" theme across the genre lends itself to a new level of addictiveness, driving you to keep playing attempt after attempt, getting a little stronger, faster, or farther each time. Wizard with a Gun is the latest entry to the genre attempting to draw you into that loop, and its unique combat gameplay and world successfully capture the magic.
But some rough edges in performance, visuals, audio, and gameplay cement Wizard with a Gun as a fun but flawed roguelite experience. It's still an easy recommendation, though, especially if you want to play with a friend. Endless ways to slaughter your foes as a Gunmancer guarantees you'll have a great time in Wizard with a Gun. If you need more information, read on for my full review.
Disclaimer: This review was made possible by a review code provided by Devolver Digital. The company did not see the contents of the review before publishing.
What is Wizard with a Gun?
Release date: Oct. 16 (PC), Oct. 17 (Xbox & PS5)
Developer: Devolver Digital
Publisher: Galvanic Games
Players: Single-player, co-op (2 players)
Install size: 2GB
Playtime: 15+ hours
Platforms: Xbox Series X|S, Windows PC, PlayStation 5
Xbox Game Pass: No
Reviewed on: Xbox Series X
Wizard with a Gun is an action-packed Roguelite from developer Galvanic Games and renowned indie publisher Devolver Digital. It's an approachable entry to the genre that lacks some of the bottomless depth and replayability of roguelike masterpieces like Hades but still retains the addictive gameplay loop for which the genre is known. That means that death isn't a "game over" — it's simply another step on your path to stop the end of the world.
And that, ultimately, is the goal of Wizard with a Gun. You are a Gunmancer, a Wizard that employs magic through the use of custom guns and powerful bullets. Chaos, the source of all magic, has been unleashed into the world. You must slowly find the missing pieces to an ancient time machine to repeatedly undo the damage wrought by Chaos, steadily growing stronger until you're able to confront the apocalypse directly. To do that, you'll need to learn new spells and enhancements, upgrade your equipment, and learn how to conquer each unique area in this world.
Wizard with a Gun: Performance and stability
- Stability is mostly fine, with few noticeable bugs and no crashes or breaks.
- Performance on Xbox Series X leaves some to be desired, though, with frequent dropped frames and stutters.
- The soundtrack occasionally cuts off mid-run and doesn't return until the next loop.
Wizard with a Gun is actually exclusive to current-gen consoles, skipping the aging Xbox One and PS4 in favor of Xbox Series X|S, Windows PC, and PS5 platforms. Unfortunately, performance still isn't flawless here. I had very few issues when it came to overall stability — noticeable bugs were kept to a minimum, and I didn't experience any crashes or game-breaking issues.
Performance, however, was only good most of the time. Most loading screens would be fast and smooth, most gameplay would be performant and responsive, and most combat sections would be devoid of stutters... But not all. I saw loading screens lag and take far longer than normal, moments of multiple dropped frames and seconds of major lag, and intermittent decreases in the responsiveness of the controls. The soundtrack, as great as it is, would often randomly stop during a run and not come back until the next run. There are some rough edges here, but fortunately, they can likely be smoothed out in future updates.
Wizard with a Gun: Visuals and art design
- The unique Wild West-esque, almost comic book-like art design is consistent and looks great.
- Particle effects and animations for magic and environmental effects are also solid.
- There are some visual glitches and oddities, especially with player animations.
If you want to see creativity with art design and visuals, look no further than the best indie games. Wizard with a Gun isn't breaking into my list of the best-looking games I've played (COCOON and GRIS recently earned that honor, though), but it still boasts a unique and consistent art design across the entire game. It's steampunk, it's Wild West, and it's nearly paper-like in its texture and construction. It looks good, and it matches the feel of the world perfectly.
Creature designs are excellent, too, as are animations and effects for all the different spells and environmental hazards. The soundtrack is another win — it's groovy, with diverse songs for each area of the world. I constantly found myself dancing to the tunes, so it's a pity that it sometimes simply disappears. Character animations are also rough and easily breakable, especially with certain unlockable cosmetic items. Again, there are rough edges here that I hope are ironed out in the future.
Wizard with a Gun: Story and world
- The story takes a backseat to the gameplay, but it is still interesting to learn about this world.
- The Tower and its history are mysteries, and you'll learn about it and the people who reside inside it as you explore new areas.
- Ultimately, though, the story is open-ended, allowing for continued play (and future content).
The Tower was once home to gods, a realm outside time and space. Then, it was a place of curiosity and wonder for Wizards. Finally, it was the source of the apocalypse, and the only hope for the salvation of the world. Long ago, someone opened the door to Chaos and unleashed it on the world, shattering it. Also the source of all magic, it's anathema to our existence. Inside the Tower, though, is an ancient machine that can turn back time.
Gunmancers, Wizards that employ magic through the use of guns and bullets (to avoid the adverse side effects of using magic directly), have been fighting back against Chaos, repeatedly rolling back time by a few minutes every time the world ends. That is the gameplay loop — You turn back time by five minutes, enter the Shatter, explore the broken world for information and resources, battle Chaos, and either return to the Tower as the world ends to save what you gained or die during your attempt, resetting the loop. It's a great way to tie the roguelike game mechanics into the world, and while the story isn't that in-depth or prevalent, I still enjoyed working my way through it.
Wizard with a Gun: Gameplay
- This is a twin-stick shooter with a ton of crafting, research, combinations of upgrades and spells, and much more.
- There is a ton of freedom to play as you want, but it can feel overwhelming at times.
- The core gameplay mostly feels great with the diverse magic and weapons, but controls can be incredibly awkward and even inconsistent.
The core of Wizard with a Gun beyond its roguelite elements is twin-stick shooting, combined with a diverse arsenal and a vast array of upgrades and spells. You have an equipped item for scanning the world to learn about, an item to construct and deconstruct furniture, an item to construct and deconstruct floor paths, and four different kinds of guns (revolver, carbine, SMG, and shotgun), each of which can be equipped with unique spells and effects.
There are seriously a lot of options here. You have countless things to research and craft, including base spell types (and there are a lot), powders to upgrade those spells, upgrades for all of your clothing, and then a ton of different crafting tools and research benches to help you manage your resources and unlock more stuff. There are full base-building mechanics here, with a ton of decorative furniture and items.
Honestly, it feels overwhelming for a long time. There's such a rush of different crafting materials, different people that can give you different upgrades, endless things to craft and research — and very limited ways to track things. There's also a lack of quality-of-life features. The controls are inconsistent and awkward, especially for base and path building, the interfaces can be confusing, and various mechanics just feel like more work than they should be. And yet... I had a lot of fun.
You can have one gun set vast areas land on fire and blast enemies with bolts of lightning, while another rapidly spreads deadly poison through your opponents' ranks. You can freeze enemies in stasis and then literally pepper them with sheer force, tossing them across the map once the stasis ends. Want a gun that builds paths in front of you and can trap enemies in thorny vines? You can do that, too, and that's barely scratching the surface.
No player is going to play the same, and that amount of diversity of gameplay feels so nice to explore. Those persistent rough edges are in full force here, but Wizard with a Gun is still a ton of fun, and that's what matters most. Even better, you can explore this world with a friend, doubling the fun and the possibilities for builds.
Wizard with a Gun: Accessibility and approachability
- Decent language localization, granular audio sliders, and control bindings are the entirety of this game's settings.
- The lack of options, combined with awkward and inconsistent controls and interfaces, harms the game's accessibility.
- Straightforward gameplay makes Wizard with a Gun approachable at first, but those same awkward controls and interfaces, plus rough quality-of-life, hurts the game here, too.
Roguelite games are usually fairly straightforward and easy to understand, and Wizard with a Gun mostly follows that trend. It's a simple game to play at first, and even when it introduces its army of upgrade paths and mechanics, each one makes sense once you begin exploring it. "Rough edges" has been said a lot in this review, though, and it applies here, too. Aside from the game lacking many, many common accessibility features (like the ability to make its rather tiny font and HUD larger), Wizard with a Gun sadly lacks both in accessibility and approachability departments.
Mostly, this comes down to three things: controls, interface, and game design. The controls are simple and can even be rebound, but they always feel awkward (especially when building) and functions for buttons can arbitrarily change or shift around depending on what menu you're in, making them inconsistent. Menus share the game's design language but often lack clarity or intuitiveness. Strange game design decisions or lack of quality-of-life features make mechanics like base building feel like more work than their worth or make crafting and researching needlessly tedious. I could go on — Wizard with a Gun is rough around the edges, and it may be rough enough to make it difficult for some people to play it.
Wizard with a Gun: Final thoughts
You should play this if ...
✅You want to play a straightforward roguelite with solid gameplay
Wizard with a Gun represents its genre well, with an addictive gameplay loop punctuated by surprisingly diverse combat mechanics. And yet, it's a straightforward game to pick up and enjoy, with simple controls.
✅You're looking for a new game to play with a friend
Wizard with a Gun supports online co-op with one other player, and it's basically perfect for it. Explore the Shatter together, take on hordes of enemies, and mix and match your builds to achieve combinations you can't by yourself.
You should not play this if ...
❌You need specific accessibility options or features
Wizard with a Gun is a lot of fun, but there are limited options to customize the game experience for any audio, visual, or physical challenges players may have.
I enjoyed my 15+ hours with Wizard with a Gun. It's a great roguelite with enough personality to help it stand out from the crowd, it's awesome fun with a friend, and Galvanic Games is planning on supporting the game after launch with new content for those who want to revisit it. The art design, world and lore, soundtrack, and core gameplay mechanics ensure you'll definitely want to keep resetting the loop for another go, but your joy will, unfortunately, be interrupted periodically by flaws.
Performance issues, visual glitches, gaps in the music, inconsistent controls, confusing menus, and a variety of mechanics and features that desperately need quality-of-life improvements all mar the edges of this game. On top of that, a lack of accessibility options and the aforementioned rough game design make it less approachable to many players. If you can look past the cracks, though, Wizard with a Gun is another epic title from the indie professionals at Devolver Digital.
Wizard with a Gun offers over a dozen hours of addictive joy in spite of the rough edges seen all throughout the game. It can be a lot of fun, especially if playing with a friend, but it's just not perfect right now.
Zachary Boddy (They / Them) is a Staff Writer for Windows Central, primarily focused on covering the latest news in tech and gaming, the best Xbox and PC games, and the most interesting Windows and Xbox hardware. They have been gaming and writing for most of their life starting with the original Xbox, and started out as a freelancer for Windows Central and its sister sites in 2019. Now a full-fledged Staff Writer, Zachary has expanded from only writing about all things Minecraft to covering practically everything on which Windows Central is an expert, especially when it comes to Microsoft. You can find Zachary on Twitter @BoddyZachary.