Initially starting out life as an Indiegogo project, which accumulated more than twice the target amount back in 2013, the concept of Wizards: Wand of Epicosity launched on mobile platforms – under the guise of Tobuscus Adventures: Wizards – after a couple of years of development. Now though, there’s a reboot of sorts on PC and consoles, with the game receiving an extensive period in Steam Early Access beforehand. Will Wizards: Wand of Epicosity transition smoothly to the Xbox One and deliver a magical tower defense experience, or should it use the cloak of invisibility and disappear?
Unlike the majority of tower defense games, Wizards: Wand of Epicosity succeeds in the narrative department. Sadly, it falters in too many other key areas and doesn’t feel comfortable on Xbox One at all.
Wizards: Wand of Epicosity introduces you to two best friends – Tobuscus and Gabuscus – on the run from a legion of zombies. After stumbling upon a castle, a powerful wizard agrees to help them fend off these flesh-eating freaks. That is until Tobuscus is involved in the accidental death of the wizard, leaving him to take over the book of spells and save the day. One man calls it fate, while everyone else sees it as an unfortunate incident caused by an idiot. Either way, it’s up to this fool to defeat the hordes and the person controlling them, the Wizard of Darkness.
You’ll immediately catch on to the fact that it doesn’t take itself seriously as the opening, animated cutscene sets the tone with a large dose of silly humour. It’s well voice acted, will provide a few laughs, and does a smashing job at making you want more – to the point where I watched more of Tobuscus’ adventures on Youtube. There aren’t many of these scenes throughout, but each is worth the wait and even the text-based interactions to explain new mechanics are quite funny.
In total there are 20 levels set across the Frozen Forest and the Molten Mountains, tasking you with defending the castle against the hordes of enemies. Each level is played out from an isometric view, seeing Tobuscus casting spells from inside the castle at the centre of the map. Enemies traverse multiple paths that lead towards you, attempting to get close enough to inflict damage and decimate your fortress of ineptitude. Depending how well you do, up to three stars can be earned, but just the one enables you to move on to the next level. If it gets too overwhelming, then you are able to trigger a 10-second countdown to vacate the area with however many stars you’ve acquired.
The spells in your arsenal are limited until you’ve levelled up Tobuscus, with more added periodically. This means that the simple blast and stun offerings are soon joined by area of effect (AoE) attacks such as a blizzard to slow baddies down, a ring of fire and even a tornado to throw them into the abyss. There’s a decent amount of options to fill the slots and certain spells may be more useful against specific threats, which adds a bit of a strategic element.
Unfortunately, the levels are fairly short in length and become samey. The ways in which Wizards: Wand of Epicosity tries to inject variety into them, through the likes of enemy types and layouts, tends to be more problematic than refreshing. Firstly, it’s hard to distinguish between some zombies and skeletons, which is a pain when the latter have to be dispatched in a specific way. And considering the only other regular foes are wizards, there’s just an insufficient amount of different types available. One of the wizards actually removes spells, forcing you to re-equip them mid-fight and that gets old real quick.
As for the layouts, and well, they are increasingly convoluted by adding paths of varying heights. The idea is fine, but the cursor used for targeting spells often gets confused as to where you’re trying to hit. Likewise the AoE tornado, which can be maneuvered around the map, is a bit of a waste for the same reason. It might work more accurately on PC with a mouse, but not on Xbox One.
The environmental designs are visually questionable too; not only do they look dated, there’s actually one level almost completely covered in mist so you can’t see what enemies are on your doorstep. Due to the zoom of the camera, it’s difficult to keep an eye on all directions and it’s a nuisance to be caught out by attackers without a visual cue that something’s occurring off-screen.
And then there’s the shop, which takes coins and gems you’ve found on the battlefield in return for upgrades, potions and wearable equipment to enhance your success rate. Everything seems overpriced, with it wanting you to purchase more gems using real cash to speed things up. It’s unnecessary though. The shop itself is not very well placed and I saw it by fluke in the clunky menu system, which also harbours the character inventory – it’s rather baffling that both aren’t more prominent.
Wizards: Wand of Epicosity is a tower defense game that will surely create laughter with its humorous storytelling, as well as bring excitement through the usage of cool spells. The problems come in the form of the overall shortness, the repetitive feel after merely a few levels, and the inaccuracies while casting spells. Furthermore, it comes across as a mobile game in terms of visuals, the UI and the way it encourages in-game purchases.
Despite the negatives, it could’ve been worth a punt for a couple of hours if the price was right on Xbox One, however at £16.74 it’s massively overpriced and there are far better ways to make your cash disappear.