With its top three genres on Steam listed as “action, adventure, and action-adventure,” I was ready for a spell slingin’, gun blastin’, yee-hawin’ good time playing Wizard with a Gun from Galvanic Games and Devolver Digital. However, a more fitting name would be Wizard with a Passion for Resource Management, because, after nearly three hours of playing, I gathered a lot more wood and iron ingots than I actioned or adventured.
The main gameplay in the Wizard with a Gun demo is gathering materials and crafting. Most objects are destructible, so almost every tree, wall, and piece of broken machinery can be shot and turned into crafting material like wood, stone, and metal. You use wood to craft basic things like guns and crates. Other crafting materials need to be created, such as burning trees with fire bullets to get ash. You also need crafting materials to construct buildings so you can craft more items, such as creating a furnace so you can put metal and wood in it to craft iron ingots.
I had a few major problems with gathering and crafting being the main mechanics. Firstly, almost everything that contains crafting materials (trees, stones, enemies, etc.) is an HP sponge, so getting materials takes far longer than I care to spend. Enemies can be very spaced out, so they’re not a constant threat when gathering and can easily be avoided since they don’t chase you very far.
That said, there’s a five-minute timer ticking down as you are in the spaces where you gather materials, and lots of enemies spawn when it hits zero. However, these enemies are also easy to avoid, so there’s little threat of dying and losing your materials before you can return to the portal and bring your loot to the base.
Combat in Wizard with a Gun feels like an afterthought compared to the complexities of crafting. You point and shoot, with aiming being surprisingly finicky, causing many shots to miss even when point-blank. If you gather enough of the right materials, you can craft different bullets like flaming, freezing, and charming shots. However, these augments don’t do much more damage than the base bullets, making the reward for taking the time and doing everything necessary to create them feel underwhelming. You can craft additional buildings that can lead to increasing the damage of those bullets, though it took multiple bullet upgrades to feel even a slight difference.
The ideas presented also don’t mesh well with the presentation. There’s an emphasis on wizards with very little magic. Everything revolves around guns, but gunplay feels tacked on. With little story and the goal for crafting being almost solely to be able to craft more, the only reward for playing is the ability to do more of the same.
While the craft-heavy gameplay eroded my interest in the Wizard with a Gun demo, there were a few issues and grindy design choices that might even sway supply-gathering enthusiasts. Despite having healing potions, sometimes I could not equip them. After using the charm bullets on enemies, they will sometimes attack stationary objects like destructible walls rather than follow me. Even after destroying everything around them, they sometimes just stood in place.
You also have limited inventory space despite the large amount of materials you need. You can craft crates that also have limited inventory space at your base to hold more, but materials only count as available on your person. So if you need six turnips to craft a building and you have 18 turnips in your crates, it will say you have none.
It’s clear Wizard with a Gun is not bad in general, but it is bad for a player like me. There are things I can appreciate, such as the clear and stylized visuals, the great music, and the spot-on sound design. While the trailer showed off the exciting abilities you get later, the grind to get to them isn’t worth it for me. But if you’re into organizing materials with a bit of spongy combat sprinkled in, it might be worth checking out the demo.