Wizard with a Gun promises a sandbox survival experience, but it relies slightly too heavily on its crafting mechanics as you get set up which takes away from the combat side of the game. It's got a few flaws for sure, but it's still fun as long as you're prepared for a bit of repetition.
Customizable character makes the experience more personal
Different ammo types help keep combat exciting
Various enchanting environments to keep exploration exciting
Maps are sometimes overwhelmingly large
There’s a heavy reliance on crafting over combat
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Platform reviewed: PC
Available on: PC, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch
Release date: October 17, 2023
Wizard with a Gun from Galvanic Games presents a sandbox survival game that places you in the midst of chaos. As one of the remaining gunslingers, a cowboy-style character who relies on a magically enhanced firearm, you’re responsible for traversing its extensive maps, facing up against its cults of reprobates, handling its irritable creatures, and rewinding time to try and piece together the fragmented events leading to the end of the world. It’s a tense, high-stakes slice of action spelled out through a simple narrative, and while it’s got the potential to host an incredibly captivating story, it also has numerous flaws that let the experience down.
The general objective of Wizard with a Gun revolves around collecting gears within each map you visit. There are 56 gears in total, spanning a variety of biomes and hidden among an array of challenges, and they are your key to repairing the shattered world. While some gears are left lying on the ground, others are being held captive by intimidating enemies, and it's your job to collect them all to repair time. This, paired with the requirement to take down the guardian of each biome, is the backbone of your adventure, but there are several challenges between these to keep you entertained and engaged within its chaotic landscape.
At the very beginning, you are welcomed to your home base, The Tower. You’ll set up camp here, returning to this location between expeditions and repairing its surrounding doorways the further you delve into the game. You get to place workstations and customize your space as you go, although, you can’t rotate objects and everything has to face the same way - which really bugged me. It will make your life slightly more convenient though, and when you’re ready, you’re free to turn back time and slip through a doorway - which is where the real fun begins.
Everything by the book
As you begin your adventure into repairing the world that has swiftly descended into chaos, you’re given a book that becomes an encyclopedia of sorts which talks you through every enemy, NPC, and general object you encounter during your adventure. As you run around, you’ll need to scan pretty much everything marked with a little book icon. This initially seems like a pretty irrelevant task unless you are desperate to deepen your understanding of the game's creatures and buildings, but as you progress, it becomes clearer that this is essential to your progression and your gateway to unlocking stronger weapons, and enchantments for your armor to help give you little buffs like health restoration as you run around.
Each biome is chock full of things to scan and explore when you begin. With the maps you visit being random each time, you never really know where you’ll end up which does keep things exciting, but becomes a little more challenging as time passes. At first, you have access to a single doorway, so you’ll only spawn in one general area of The Imperium (the first area you aim to repair) but you’re free to explore wherever your feet take you once you’re through.
When you enter a doorway you have five minutes to run around and do as much as you can before the world begins to end, and given how large some of these maps are - five minutes simply isn’t long enough. Fortunately, you can gain some time by facing off with chaos rifts and dormant rifts across the map, but there’s no saying when or where these will spawn, and, more often than not, you will find yourself desperately sprinting back to your doorway in the hopes of not running out of health and losing all of your stuff.
The clock is ticking
This is why it’s essential to prep and plan your expeditions before heading out. If you die during an expedition, even if you’re carrying items from the previous, you will lose everything. You’ll want to store any high-value items in chests within the tower otherwise you will be kicking yourself if you perform a poorly-timed dodge and roll into an enemy attack instead of away (trust me, I learned that the hard way.)
Realizing the options in the main menu were programmed to strum like a guitar as you hover over them. I then spent more time than I’d like to admit trying to play along to the main theme.
But, for a game that requires a lot of planning rather than jumping into action with both feet, it can feel incredibly challenging to plan at all as you get started. With each map being a different size with enemies in different places, it can be hard to concoct a strategy for the challenge ahead, and because of this, it starts to feel more frustrating than it does fun. This is especially true once you progress through certain areas and die to bosses because your weapons simply aren’t strong enough.
Most expeditions you embark on as you begin will be spent collecting resources to craft workstations in the tower just to ensure you have enough ammo or healing potions. I found this drastically strips away the fun factor of the game. Things get a little easier once you’ve taken down the first boss and new biomes start to open up, but it definitely takes a while to settle back into the combat side of the game once you’ve poured so much time exclusively into crafting.
A whole new world
Fortunately, once you are settled into the combat side of things and you have an efficient workstation back at the tower, you can experience exactly what Wizard with a Gun is about - a wizard with a gun. At first, you’ll be paired with a pretty lackluster wooden pistol capable of firing simple bullets that cause just enough damage to take down low-level enemies. But, as you progress through each map, face new enemies, and explore new biomes, you will be able to find a bounty of resources and weapons to help you on your adventure.
Taking down more challenging enemies, such as fellow gunslingers, offers the potential to pick up more powerful weapons that, although rugged, will help you massively when it comes to facing more powerful enemies further down the line. These weapons usually come equipped with better bullets with magical enhancements, such as poison tips or fire, which are far more powerful than the ones you start out with. This makes it all the more important that you engage in combat with these enemies, rather than toeing around their camps in fear of once again losing your bounty.
The more you explore and scan, the easier it becomes to craft your own stronger ammo and use powders to buff your hits with things like homing skills, and you’ll be able to purchase stronger guns from Young Joshua, the NPC found around each map that is happy to meet your weaponry needs. Compared to your opponents, these weapons match up nicely to ensure you aren’t too overpowered and the game becomes easy, but they aren’t too underpowered to make you feel entirely helpless.
Before you know it you’ll be facing off against the larger-than-life bosses that guard the gateway to the next biome, or finding the final gear to help repair the timeline and return the Shatter to the way it once was.
So while Wizard with a Gun does have its flaws, it is still a game worth exploring if you’re prepared for a lot of back and forth. There’s a heavy reliance on its crafting system for a game that initially seems combat-oriented, but it’s (occasionally unevenly) balanced out with the required preparation between expeditions. This is frustrating at times, especially when you’re stripped of all your belongings because you wandered into an enemy camp without realizing it, but it pays off in the feeling of success once you’re gathering the loot from a boss and returning yet another gear to the wheel of time.
Unfortunately, there aren’t any accessibility settings within Wizard With a Gun. You can change the language, and adjust the key bindings and audio levels, but that’s about it. There’s a lot of text to digest as you read through books and interact with characters, alongside a lot of color-coded icons and logos on the screen, so it’s a shame that there are no settings to alter text size for those who may need to. It’s definitely a bit disappointing.
How we reviewed Wizard with a Gun
I played Wizard with a Gun for around 25 hours on PC with mouse and keyboard, which gave me enough time to explore each biome, find each gunslinger, and face off with the majority of the bosses each biome has tucked away. Although there are still some gears for me to go back in and collect 25-30 hours is more than enough time to take you through the vast majority of the game.
Kara is an Evergreen writer at TechRadar Gaming. With a degree in Journalism and a passion for the weird and wonderful, she's spent the last few years as a freelance video game journalist, with bylines at NintendoLife, Attack of the Fanboy, Prima Games, and sister publication, GamesRadar+. Outside of gaming, you'll find her re-watching Gilmore Girls or trying to cram yet another collectible onto a shelf that desperately needs some organizing.