Have you ever wanted to jump on the old broomstick and have at it with some of your best friends in an all out wizarding war? Wizards, in this world, range from vampires to humans, to demos and cats. Wand Wars is your chance to do just that. Wand Wars whisks you into a land of retro graphics (much in the look of Towerfall Ascension), pitting you against other wizards in a variety of game modes including a story campaign, versus fo couch co-op, and a challenge mode.
The aim of the game (in the primary game mode), is to volley back and forth a magical orb. By hitting this orb you claim ownership of it and holding the orb will allow you to send it flying towards opponents. When under your control, the orb will take out your wizarding enemies. You also can wield the magic arrow to turn other wizards into chickens, giving you the upper hand for a few seconds. The learning curve is short; I felt like I became an expert at Merlin Ball after playing just a couple of hours. The gameplay is simple, fast, and fun, keeping players hooked into the world by opening up new content through a leveling system.
The leveling system is a fantastic idea to get players invested in the game. When you first start Wand Wars, you only have access to a few characters and levels, but after a few rounds of versus or story mode (try legendary mode for a little something extra), you’ll have some new arenas to battle in along with some interesting new characters.
Although the gameplay mechanics are relatively simple, the story mode injects Wand Wars with character and heart. You’ll start off as the apprentice who stole your mentor’s wand and travel through each characters story including a robot who rides on a vacuum cleaner and uses a screwdriver as a wand. The writing is quirky and humorous. The story mode alone lasts a couple of hours, increasing in difficulty as you progress through the cast of characters. These elements add a little something special to a game that is primarily about throwing a ball of light around the screen. Don’t get me wrong, that ball of light grows in each time it is passed on the screen, and, as you catch it, it’s size and speed increase exponentially making the game more and more chaotic.
Additionally, as you unlock more content, more power-ups will become available to turn the tides of battle. Using your arrows to turn opponents into chickens is one-way fight dirty, but adding in death beams, hodukens, and a flying smoke monster will aid you in your quest to be the ultimate competitor.
The versus mode offers a bit of fun as well due to several game modes including Hex and Arcane Arena. There’s even a Merlin Ball mode where wizards must score by hurling the light ball at spinning totems that serve as goals (almost set up like a game of Quidditch). Although there are several modes to play in multiplayer (including the ability to play with COM players), these modes didn’t captivate for too long .Games are quick (or long if you want to set the match points higher), but after you have unlocked all content, multiplayer can feel a little empty. The ability to unlock new content through gaining experience helped me continue playing in the versus mode. Versus offers a fun experience, but likely won’t have you playing for hours on end.
Trials mode puts each character into the arena with a variety of challenges. Facing screens of phantom-like wizards who come in and out of play. The interesting part of the trials mode is that you will choose tarot-like cards that will alter the state of the game you are playing. This adds a whole new dimension to how you play the game. I played this mode last, and despite feeling as though I had gained a lot of experience, this mode really challenges the normal strategies you utilize.
My favorite thing about Wand Wars was the cast of characters and the story mode. Although the allure of this game is that there is a 4-player local competition (I am finding these games becoming rarer as we go to online only style games). I found myself chuckling through almost every dialogue the game had to offer. I do wish that there was online play or a tournament mode (with leaderboards). Normally, I am not a fan of leaderboards, but in a game like this (about a wizarding competition), it could add an extra layer for players to appreciate. All in all, Wand Wars is a unique approach to a retro-style sports competition with wizards; a game you didn’t even know you wanted!
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Playstation 4 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org
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