WazHack
Gameplay 9
Graphics 7
Sound 8

Wazhack is a game that kept us busy for hours, most of which was spent dying and retrying. It is a very difficult game, but with a good strategy and plenty of luck you will get far. The permanent death ensures that you stay on your toes at all times, and the procedural levels ensure plenty of replay value. There is also a wealth of characters to choose from, each with their own unique skills and weaknesses.

Gameplay: A strategic dungeon crawler, that is tough as nails, but very rewarding.

Graphics: The rendered backgrounds and 3D character models make for an interesting mix.

Sound: Subtle enough that you can play the game for hours without the music becoming annoying

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WazHack

Developer: Waz | Publisher: WazHack |Release Date: 2014 | Genre: Indie / RPG / Strategy |Website: Official Website | Format: Digital Download

Deep within the dungeons of WazHack lies the Amulet of Zaw, an artifact of unfathomable value. This legendary prize has drawn many an adventurer to their doom, but its allure proves too much to resist. Will your character survive the hordes of monsters, perils of starvation, and unpredictability of the loot, or will they too succumb to a permanent death.

Unlike most roguelike titles that opt for a top down perspective, WazHack is viewed from the side. This might give it the appearance of a platform title, and while it indeed has a jump button, nothing could be further from the truth. The game is actually turn-based, but it is so cleverly disguised as real-time that you won’t even notice until your character stands still. You see, time stops when your character stops moving, so can strategically weight all your options. This gives the game the action-packed feel that you would get from a real-time game, without compromising any of the strategic depth that a turn-based system offers.

The goals in WazHack are very clear, and very simple. All you have to do is pick a character class, make your way down to the bottom of the dungeon, retrieve the Amulet of Zaw, and escape. In reality, your character can be killed before making it even 500 feet down, and there are no saving and loading to escape your fate. Death in Wazhack is permanent, so every mistake counts and every bit of bad luck will leave you scrambling to survive. It is a very difficult game, but extremely rewarding, and horribly addictive.

WazHack was originally released in 2012, but thanks to the recent Steam release it might finally get some more much deserved exposure. There are 8 different character classes to choose from, each with its own male and female subclass, for a total of 16 different characters. The differences between classes are not just purely cosmetic either, so a knight is going to be better in hand-to-hand combat than a sorcerer, but worse at ranged combat than a huntsman. This diversity boosts the replay value considerably, which is a good thing considering how many times you will have to restart before even coming close to a successful run. Each class also starts with their own pet, but keeping these useful critters alive is quite a challenge.

The dungeon is procedurally generated, so each trip down into the dark depths is a new experience. The attributes of spellbooks, scrolls and potions are also different with each run. So that red potion that cured you in a previous run might now cause you to go blind, and the Read Me scroll you thought would cast identify might now summon more monsters. This makes every action you take in the game a gamble, and the deeper you go down the bigger the penalty for a stroke of bad luck. It is obviously very frustrating if you are in the middle of a good run and what you thought was a healing potion instead polymorphs you into a rat, dropping all your equipment in the process, but this is part of the charm that the game has. There are some friendly NPCs like shopkeepers don’t in the dungeons as well, provided you don’t mess with them, but mostly you will be fighting for your life (and some sweet loot.)

With every stroke of bad luck, and unsuccessful run I felt like I could do better the next time, and immediately restarted. In fact, this review would have been done ages ago if the game wasn’t so utterly addictive. WazHack is one of those titles where you might start it up just to play through a floor or two and an hour later you find yourself a few hundred meters into the dungeon and frantically fending off zombies, mummies and hill orcs. Because the game doesn’t have much of a story, you are left to create your own tales. In one run I equipped what I hoped would be a beneficial ring only to start levitating. The ring was cursed so my character ended up starving because he couldn’t reach any of the food on the floor after killing enemies. In another I was way down in the depths of the dungeon, surrounded by enemies and down to my last unidentified wand. Trapped, and with no way to heal myself, I used to wand, praying that it wouldn’t’ summon more monsters. The beam from the wand bounced off the wall and ceiling, hitting my character and teleporting her to safety where I could rest and recuperate. Of course, I also had runs where the first potion my character drinks causes him to hallucinate and get killed by what looks like a silver dodecahedron.

The game mixed 3D characters with rendered backgrounds, and while the results aren’t exactly beautiful it still looks pretty unique. I love how all the armor, weapons and accessories you equip is actually visible on your character, and how the physics causes slain foes to fall down ladders like ragdolls. The market is saturated with dungeon crawlers using retro or pixel art so WazHack makes for a nice change. The audio is also quite good, and remains unobtrusive, which is great considering how much time you will spend listening to it. The sounds of footsteps might drive the people around you bonkers, but while playing you tend to tune it out. The game can be played using a keyboard, mouse or controller and while it takes a while to get to the menus and inventory management, everything works great when you get the hang of it. The game has some very challenging achievements to aim for, and also recently added Steam trading cards.

WazHack makes the roquelike genre accessible to players who might find titles like Nethack to be too archaic, or don’t want to get bogged down in the rules of Dungeons and Dragons. That it is able to do so without dumbing down anything or compromising on the difficulty is an added bonus. With more than 300 unique items, and something like 150 different monsters, WazHack is certainly not lacking any content. If you are looking for an easy game that you can complete without breaking a sweat, then you should probably avoid WazHack. If however, you are looking for a decent challenge and gameplay that will keep you coming back for more, then grab yourself a copy of this game immediately. At the very least, try out the free demo available from HERE and see for yourself why this game is such a blast.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows XP SP2, Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8
  • Processor: 2GHz
  • Memory: 512 MB RAM
  • Graphics: Any 3D Graphics Card
  • DirectX: Version 7.0
  • Hard Drive: 100 MB available space
  • Additional Notes: Turn down resolution and settings on Integrated GPUs.
  • OS: Windows 7
  • Processor: 3GHz
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GT 640
  • DirectX: Version 10
  • Hard Drive: 100 MB available space
  • Additional Notes: Turn up resolution and settings on high-end GPUs.
  • OS: Mac OS X 10.5 or later
  • Processor: 2.5 GHz Intel Core i5
  • Memory: 512 MB RAM
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4000 512 MB
  • Hard Drive: 100 MB available space
  • Additional Notes: Select lower resolutions on Mac Minis.
  • OS: Mac OS X 10.7
  • Processor: 2.7 GHz Intel Core i5
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M
  • Hard Drive: 100 MB available space
  • Additional Notes: Turn up graphics settings on high-end systems.

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