Wizard With a Gun review: Casting bullets

This indie isometric shooter published by Devolver Digital has interesting gameplay systems and two-player co-op, but it's rough around the corners.

Galvanic Games

Wizard With a Gun should really have been called Gunslinger With Spell Ammo, but I can understand why developer Galvanic Games went with the punchier name. This online co-operative isometric shooter isn’t the first foray for the Seattle-based indie studio. Apart from its hand-drawn exploration game called Some Distant Memory on Steam, Galvanic Games has expertise creating simple multiplayer games with a fun cartoonish aesthetic, like Rapture Rejects: Cyanide & Happiness. Wizard With a Gun takes this up a notch, combining elemental effects, an in-depth crafting system, and roguelike gameplay that involves turning back time. However, its floaty controls and finicky inventory management make the game misfire on occasion.

Bite the magic bullet

Wizard With A Gun Starting Cutscene
With your ship broken in half, your first task is to craft a gun out of wood.

SOURCE: Shacknews

Following the typical roguelike, the game asks you to explore a precarious world before it’s obliterated by entities of Chaos, pink, tentacle-ridden eldritch horrors that destroy everything in their path. In the opening tutorial, your character’s ship is wrecked in a ravaged section of space known as The Shatter and you eventually discover a tower that serves as a main hub. Here, you can build research facilities, store materials, and use a "godmachine" called The Wheel to reset time five minutes before the apocalypse occurs.

In effect, there are two gameplay loops that keep the momentum moving forward. The first loop has you spending those precious five minutes to destroy as many enemies and gather as many resources as possible in The Imperium. You can extend this time limit by destroying rifts, some which spawn next to you and some which can be found randomly. That said, you may want to stay around after the time limit anyway to eradicate Chaos monsters for special materials. But at some point, you'll need to return to the tower through a gate before there are no more ground tiles left to stand on. Back at base, you can transform resources into upgrades for your weapons, ammo, and clothing in preparation for your next foray.

The second, broader loop asks you to restore the full function of The Wheel by finding its missing gears from challenging enemies found throughout the map. Return enough gears and you’ll be able to locate and defeat the area boss called a Rider, which reveals journals that explain some of the lore behind The Tower. However, they tend to be obtuse and are put off to the side without any emphasis. At any rate, defeating a Rider opens a new section that extends the world for further exploration. This eventually adds a poisonous swamp, a snowy plateau, and a sandy desert, all of which have tougher mobs and better materials. Defeat all the Riders, and you’ll face a final boss that will test your gear and skill to their limit.

With guns actually blazing

Wizard With a Gun Crafting Research Stations
This Life Research Station is just one of many used for upgrades back at The Tower.

SOURCE: Shacknews

While the combat system is fairly simple, it’s bolstered by a variety of elemental ammo and environmental effects. Once you learn the recipes at the basic research station, you can start crafting different types of bullets that deal fire, cold, lightning, poison, and other types of damage. These also come paired with familiar status effects, such as fire ammo inflicting burn damage over time or ice ammo slowing down enemy movement. Not only will enemies and objects react differently depending on what elemental ammo you use on them, but you can spread fire throughout wooden buildings and electrify a river using lightning ammo. This encourages you to have multiple guns loaded with different types of ammo for the right situation.

Equally robust is the crafting system, which allows you to create and modify bullets beyond the basic elemental ammo. Since you only have enough room for a handful of guns, you’ll need to choose which types of bullets matter most. Order bullets deal the most damage to Chaos enemies, so that’s well worth the investment, but you can also craft bullets that spread oil, push foes back, or make them run away in fear. You can also imbue ammo with various enhancements using powders that increase their area of effect, speed, critical chance, and more. The only issue is that inventory management can get irritating, especially late in the game when you’ll need four or more chests for materials. It would have been simpler for organization’s sake if you could pour all your resources into one place that all research stations can access.

On the downside, some of the controls feel floaty or cumbersome. Dodging doesn’t have enough weight to it, making it feel too loose for a move that you’ll be using often. Compared to other isometric action games like Bastion and Tunic, both movement and aiming are not as tactile nor as precise. Also, at certain times you’ll need to create terrain to form a land bridge, but that requires you to switch to a specific gun and then aim at specific squares using a targeting system that is unwieldy when using a controller. 


Wizard With a Gun Timer Chaos
When time runs out, Chaos entities will start emerging from rifts and destroy the ground around you.

SOURCE: Shacknews

While the game isn’t particularly difficult so long as you keep your ammo upgraded, you can get some assistance by way of two-player co-op. Similar to how Baldur’s Gate 3 works, you can host a multiplayer session out of your single-player runthrough and have a friend create an instanced wizard in your game. This ensures that your friend can support you whatever your progress may be, though that means you can’t bring a character from your campaign over. Inventory management can get finicky here as well, since if a person leaves your session, you can’t access the person’s items.

At release, the post-game is very thin, as all you can do is claim any gears that you might have skipped over. More content will be made available through DLC and updates, but some kind of challenge mode or a harder difficulty setting would have provided more reasons to return to the game after the credits roll.

Wizard With a Gun is a strong start for Galvanic Games, and the effort that has gone into the crafting system and elemental mechanics is well-appreciated. You can lose a lot of hours simply shaping ammo and gathering resources. However, the controls are loose, the lore could be better integrated, and the endgame is bare. Despite these issues, though, Wizard With a Gun is a competent shooter that has a lot of potential and is well worth watching as it develops over time.

This review is based on a PC (Steam) code provided by the publisher. The game is available on PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X|S.

Contributing Editor

Once upon a time, Nick's parents confiscated his Super Nintendo because he was "playing it too much." He has secretly sworn revenge ever since. Nick is now a freelance writer for various video game sites. Powered by iced green tea, he typically plays RPGs of all kinds like Shin Megami Tensei, Elder Scrolls, and Fallout. In his spare time, he follows the latest season of Critical Role.

Review for
Wizard with a Gun
  • Online co-op play
  • Strong gameplay loops
  • Variety of elemental ammo
  • In-depth crafting system
  • Floaty controls
  • Inventory management gets finicky
  • Thin post-game
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