The Wizard and The Slug
We’ve seen some unusual team-ups in games over the years, but the unlikely duo in The Wizard and The Slug still managed to raise an eyebrow. It all kicks off when an unassuming forest slug is just quietly minding its own business only to discover a dismembered wizard laying in a smoking crater. After graciously returning some scattered limbs to the wizard, who may or may not actually be a wizard, the poor slug is enlisted for an epic adventure. In one of many laugh out loud moments in the game it is possible to refuse this request, but doing so would mean missing out on one heck of an adventure.
Although The Wizard and The Slug is a platform game at heart, there is a lot more to it than just navigating tricky environments and killing enemies. For one, it is set in a very strange fantasy world, so you never know who or what you are going to run into next. Slugs are not exactly synonymous with speed and strength, but fortunately, the wizard had the good fortune to find one that is fast and agile. It is also pretty good at defending itself by lobbing projectiles at enemies. The catch is that each projectile decreases the mass of the slug and when it is in its smallest form it can get killed by enemies. Thankfully, teaming up with a wizard has its perks, which includes becoming immortal. So, while the slug can indeed get killed by enemies or hazards, it will simply respawn back at the nearest save spot. These are scattered around the levels rather generously, so the penalty for death is never too stiff.
It is clear that the developer of The Wizard and The Slug wants the game to be as accessible as possible to players of all skill levels as it also includes an “assist” mode. Here players can toggle things such as unlimited jump, shots, and even invulnerability. We suggest that platform veterans avoid this menu to get the most out of the game, but for younger players, newcomers to the genre, or those who simply want to enjoy the story without frustration it’s a pretty handy feature. On the other hand, for players who want to enjoy the game without the story interruptions, there is also an “arcade” mode, which is perfect for speed-running. However, we do recommend playing through the story mode at least once purely because it is brilliant. The Wizard and the Slug has three different endings, so there’s more than enough reason to play through it multiple times.
The Wizard and the Slug is the work of a solo developer and this is quite evident in the 2D visuals. However, while being rather simple, the graphics are certainly not without charm. Not only is the slug rather adorable as far as slimy, projectile hurling creatures go, but the fantasy world of the game is also populated by all manner of weird and wonderful characters. Ranging from animals and vegetables to harpies and more most of these critters are not just enemies or background characters either. Some will team up with your slug for a short time to help out while others will challenge you to games of volleyball or engage you in humerus conversations. It is these conversations that make for some of the most memorable and humorous moments in the game. Of course, humor is very subjective and not everyone is going to appreciate all the jokes in The Wizard and the Slug, but for what it is worth it constantly had us laughing out loud. For a game with such an absurd premise and so much offbeat humor, it is also surprisingly heartfelt at times and tackles unexpected issues that we are not going to spoil here.
From a purely platforming perspective, there’s not a lot that The Wizard and the Slug does that is really unique. Levels are colorful and filled with hazards as well as enemies, but you are still mostly jumping and shooting your way through them. Your slug can unlock different types of shots, and switch between them as some are more effective against certain enemies than others. New skills, such as double jumping and air dashing also make for challenging gauntlets where one wrong move can spell death. Also, there’s a couple of tricky boss fights and even a chase sequence where you need to evade a giant monster down in a sewer. Most of the time players are in control of the slug while the wizard “rests” inside it, but there are also a few times where control switches over to the wizard. These sections are brief and usually story related, but still entertaining, especially the one involving medicinal herbs that have to be found and identified correctly.
Despite a large amount of dialog in The Wizard and The Slug, there is no voice acting, which means lots of reading is required. However, as we’ve already mentioned, the dialog is brilliant throughout and we never had the urge to skip through the text. The music is just as whimsical as the visuals and the story as is the sound effects. We played the game using a controller and found the controls to be very responsive, but playing with a keyboard works just as well.
Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed The Wizard and The Slug and it is definitely a hidden gem for the genre. Some sections of the game felt a lot harder than others, so it’s a pity that there are no difficulty options. The addition of the “assist” mode is useful, but a cheat menu is not really a good substitute for balanced difficulty. Without the story and dialog, The Wizard and The Slug is a decent, but not an extraordinary game, but the writing definitely elevates it to something special. It’s a game that is easy to overlook because of the visual style and genre, but to miss out on The Wizard and The Slug would be a mistake.
- OS: Windows XP or above
- Processor: 1.7 GHz
- Memory: 2 GB RAM
- Graphics: 512 MB VRAM
- DirectX: Version 9.0
- Storage: 500 MB available space
- OS: Windows 7 or above
- Processor: 2.0 GHz
- Memory: 4 GB RAM
- Graphics: 1 GB RAM
- DirectX: Version 11
- Storage: 1 GB available space