I started playing The Wizard and The Slug with no expectations of what the gameplay or humor was going to be like. Whilst I had seen short snippets, I hadn’t really absorbed the nature of the game and thus the game took me by complete surprise. I wasn’t expecting to be greeted by a wave of the game’s charm or whimsicality. In a week where I had also played Outlast 2, this game was the complete opposite in nature and I needed that. Oh, I needed that.
At first glance, the game appears to be nothing more than a run-of-the-mill platformer and I think this shaped my expectations. But this is a false impression; much of the game is unique and very little is ordinary. You play as the titular slug and, as such, you are able to increase your body mass or fire parts of it off as projectiles at will. Not only is this ability useful for attacking enemies, but it becomes a puzzle to traverse the levels as well. Being too large for some platforms will see them buckle under your weight and firing off a well-timed projectile over a chasm enables you to jump over huge distances.
Charming And Endearing
The Wizard and The Slug really shines with its characters and their interactions. Initially, I was a bit unsure at the cheesy and sometimes corny exchanges, but after a short while, I was genuinely laughing at the jokes. The characters develop and the story does with it. This process endears the characters to you and by the end of the demo, I was so intrigued that I wanted more. More of the characters, more of the story and more of the gameplay.
The levels had a decent amount of variety and stayed true to the genre. Yes, this included an underwater level, but without horrible mechanics or a ridiculous oxygen system that leaves the player with a bad taste of frustration in their mouth. Boss fights had a decent amount of challenge to them without becoming frustrating. You need to observe, learn their pattern and adapt to kill them. You have a generous life system to back you up, and can only take ‘true damage’ in your smallest state, so trial and error isn’t really a problem.
No Sluggish Controls!
My biggest ‘niggle’, if I can call it that, was that I was forced to use the D-Pad to play the game. Whilst this gave it a retro feel, I feel the addition of an analog stick would give greater control over your character which in a platformer is paramount. Nonetheless, this did not detract from the overall experience offered and did not prevent me from playing the game nor dying endlessly due to it. I just feel we have moved on from 1995 when this was the norm.
Unfortunately at the time of writing, whilst the game did receive a significant amount of funding, it failed to meet its goal on Kickstarter. This is regrettable, but I hope it does not deter the developer from seeking alternative routes. Now that the game has received a bit more exposure, an alternative crowdfunding campaign may prove more fruitful. If you would like to play the game for yourself, the demo was still live and available over on itch.io at the time of writing.
The game was created by one developer, and this has to be applauded. I am always so impressed by one man teams, who can cover all facets of development and marketing. They are true polymaths in the gaming world! Major kudos!