Evil Wizard (PC) Review

Eviction Notice

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Evil Wizard

Brutalist Review Style (Version 2)

Imagine, the story didn’t end after saving the princess in the castle. Imagine the final boss was evicted from his castle and wanted to get it back after being defeated by heroes. These imaginings come to life in Rubber Duck Games’ Evil Wizard. This title shows precisely what happens after one final boss dares to re-enter his castle after the ‘heroes’ have ‘wrongfully’ invaded. Insert this novel idea into a setting that is decorated with beautiful pixel artwork, tight Metroidvania gameplay, and a wisecracking Deadpool-esque protagonist, and you get Evil Wizard.

Evil Wizard hurls the player into the robes of a — spoiler alert — Evil Wizard, that is less than pleased after his forced eviction at the hands of the heroes. After pulling himself together, the player is tasked with following our ‘hero’ back into his castle to see what carnage dwells within. First off, there are pop culture references and other popular title easter eggs galore.

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From the Evil Wizard literally mentioning The Legend of Zelda’s staple weapon, the Master Sword, to casually seeing a Poké Ball safely shelved in the background. Evil Wizard borrows references from other titles with reckless abandon, like Rare’s Conker’s Bad Fur Day, and it becomes clear the title doesn’t take itself seriously at all, and it is an excellent choice. 

“Combat is a HARD flurry of throwing spells at enemies, dodging and remaining vigilant to not end up in a pile of dead wizard robes.”

Say what you will, but first impressions do matter, and Evil Wizard has incredibly detailed environments stacked with gorgeous pixel artwork. As a plus, there is also voice acting while not provided for every word, and the voices complement the story enough to really make the characters seem alive. The pixels function in such a way that it is easy to make out what emotion the Evil Wizard is portraying, although his face is eyes and a hood. He is quite expressive, and having a character without facial features express themselves with their face is no easy feat. Rubber Duck Games set out to make a classic-feeling title, and this one fits in quite nicely.

A small tutorial is, of course, included, and all the 2.5D goodness is present. There’s a dodge button, a special attack button, and the good ole melee strike that will undoubtedly be used most. There are executions the Evil Wizard can perform that restore a segment of health, which must be appropriately timed to avoid getting hit while performing. But, the tutorial introduces more of the title’s brand of comedy. 

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From the obvious low-hanging fruit jokes, such as naming a knight Tutorialot (a cross between Sir Lancelot and Tutorial), who expires shortly after meeting him, to an enemy saying ‘That’s a nice staff’ and the protagonist replying ‘Phrasing.’

While I was pleasantly surprised by this kind of juvenile comedy and fourth-wall breaking, it is obviously not for everyone, as there is no dialogue without a snarky quip. There are also collectibles in the form of rubber ducks cosplaying as popular pop culture references. After unwrapping one, I was greeted by ‘Rubber Downey Jr,’ who claims, “I… Am… Iron Duck!” A nice touch that makes the player want to find collectibles.

“This gives Evil Wizard a Mega Man feel, which is not bad, but random difficulty spikes that feel unfair are.”

Combat is a HARD flurry of throwing spells at enemies, dodging and remaining vigilant to not end up in a pile of dead wizard robes. Enemies each have strengths and weaknesses, which must be exploited or you’ll have a bad time. The Evil Wizard must juggle five elements to destroy his enemies, and the player can refer to an element weakness ‘cheat sheet’ — called that by the wizard himself — to determine what would be most effective.

After bashing my head against an enemy weak to ice damage and attempting to steamroll it without the proper spell, it becomes clear enemies should be defeated in a particular order for ideal progression. This gives Evil Wizard a Mega Man feel, which is not bad, but random difficulty spikes that feel unfair are.  

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Unfortunately, Evil Wizard doesn’t allow the player to switch spells on the fly. This creates an issue where although the player knows which spell to use, they don’t have access to it. While this does create memorable puzzle-solving moments, such as absorbing the fire from a torch to solve a fire spell, combat can be failed by just entering with the wrong spell, which feels like bad luck instead of getting beaten fair and square. As a matter of fact, numerous times during gameplay, I found myself backtracking MANY rooms to find the right spell to progress. 

Evil Wizard is a good time. A blend of pop-culture humour and references, genuinely satisfying puzzle-solving, tight combat, and a unique point-of-view allow Evil Wizard to shine brightly in a now oversaturated genre. With a staggering amount of easter eggs that constantly plague the player with ‘A-ha!’ moments, players starting their journey will want to uncover every nook and cranny to find everything the title offers. 

Evil Wizard makes a bold narrative choice but feels safe everywhere else. Constant and redundant backtracking to get the right spell and inconsistent difficulty spikes make the combat loops feel like ‘just another action title’, and while that may be the case, Rubber Duck Games has fine-tuned the combat and exploration to give Evil Wizard its own identity – a challenging title with fun laughs for those who see it through to the end.

Final Thoughts

Philip Watson
Philip Watson

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