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The Wizard and the Slug Review

There’s something perverse about having two main characters – the titular wizard and the snail – and choosing the snail to be the one you control. The wizard can fly, has almost godlike powers and is – in every sense – the character around which the plot revolves. But no. Let’s play as the snail. Cheers, The magician and the snail.

Slug has no name – you’re not smart enough to babble out words – and you’re waking up from your snail’s burrow to a new day. As you slime through the forest, you encounter a wizard named Charm who crash landed and ripped a crater out of your favorite path. The magician asks you to find the misplaced leg and arm, then asks if you’re up for an adventure. Charm doesn’t quite wait for an answer and hops into your body with a possession spell. average day

The wizard and the slug review 1

This leads to a place of 2D platforms that isn’t exactly conventional. Sure, there are enemies and platforms, and a push to move from left to right, screen by screen, but jumping and fighting are unusual beasts. You can jump, but also double and triple jumps. But with every extended jump you lose a bit of body until you’re just a pea at the end. In the following seconds, you regain body mass and become a snail again.

It’s a similar story with the fight. Slug can fire flashing globs of slime at enemies, but this also reduces the slug’s size until it becomes a tiny ball. What these two mechanics mean when combined is that you can only do a limited number of things before becoming a tiny lump and unable to double jump or attack at all. You must preserve them and use them in moderation until you are back to full size.

It might seem like it’s there to slow you down, but the main reason is to throw in some difficulty. If you take damage in your smallest size, you lose one in two health points. Lose both and you’re dead, starting over at the final checkpoint. The approach has something of the rhythmic action of making moves and then stopping to regain size, as well as a constant alternation between going on the offensive and then running away to regain your size.

It’s definitely imaginative – we’ll admit that. On the plus side, it requires precision as you’ll need to hit your attacks and jumps as you’ll quickly turn into a sitting duck afterward. It’s kind of a thrill to let the hell loose and then quietly hide in a corner. But it’s also incredibly messy. Combat in particular is problematic as you throw balls that unfortunately look a lot like you. You are often smaller than them and lose yourself in melee combat. In certain cases, it’s impossible to tell where you actually are, and – especially on the final Flipping Temple level – this becomes cumbersome.

The wizard and the slug review 2The wizard and the slug review 2

The levels are quite well designed, if not stunningly inventive. They’re straightforward, with no keys, locks, switches, or Metroidvania aspects. In a way, it’s kind of refreshing.

But that’s the only way The Wizard and the Slug is conventional. Because what makes it remarkable is its tone and approach to humor and story. If you’ve enjoyed games that absolutely drench their 2D platforming in elaborate, zany narrative, how hiking song and What lies in the multiversethen find a £4.99 treat in The Wizard and the Slug.

We’re struggling to remember a bite-sized platformer that did as much Tolkien-esque worldbuilding as The Wizard and the Slug. There must be stacks of lined notebooks in the developer’s house full of backstory for the game. It’s a tale of titans, immortals, creator gods, warriors and priests all fighting for world domination. But they’re mostly related, so there’s a soap opera aspect to it too. The Wizard is powerful but also a sibling, and this personal connection to most bosses and characters makes for a strong dynamic.

Then there’s the determination to keep messing with the structure. That’s what we love most about The Wizard and the Slug: It can’t last more than a few screens without pulling off some wacky antics that border on self-sabotage. Suddenly you’ve gained a canine sidekick that throws enemies in the air for you to smack them in the face before the enemies completely stop and challenge you to a yarn-based volleyball game. You play as different characters; appear in a swap minigame; witness a rain of penguins; and play a game of Punch Club (Not talk about it). It feels like someone on the development team keeps asking, “What if…?” and—rather than saying no—everyone went along with it. The result is a bit fabulous.

The wizard and the slug review 3The wizard and the slug review 3

On top of all this craziness is a thick soup of humor and deadly serious mythologization. It’s a difficult mix to swallow at certain points, and The Wizard and the Slug can be a bit windy at times and talk longer than it should. But mostly it works, as a good deal of the jokes land (a psychotic banana and her feud with a sane orange is a highlight), as does a good deal of the serious stuff. Think Undertale and you are somewhere near the tone achieved here. Not quite as sublime as that comparison makes, but very good nonetheless.

As you may have noticed, The Wizard and the Slug does not present itself. A £4.99 2D platformer from Ratalaika that looks reasonably attractive, but not overly so, should never have been this good. We queued for quick, easy achievements and a bit of throwaway entertainment. What we got was a free-roaming, inventive little platformer that made us think and laugh in equal measure. Bravo.

You can buy The Wizard and the Slug from the Xbox store

There’s something perverse about having two main characters – the titular wizard and the snail – and choosing the snail to be the one you control. The wizard can fly, has almost godlike powers and is – in every sense – the character around which the plot revolves. But no. Let’s play as the snail. Prost, the magician and the snail. Slug has no name – you’re not smart enough to babble out words – and you’re waking up from your snail’s burrow to a new day. As you slime through the forest, you’ll meet a wizard named Charm who…

The Wizard and the Slug Review

The Wizard and the Slug Review

2022-07-23

David Ozzy





Advantages:

  • Has some good stomach kicks
  • Loves to disrupt and offers crazy mini-games
  • Deep world building
  • Never sit still

Disadvantages:

  • Platforming and combat are chaotic
  • Some humor doesn’t land

The information:

  • A big thank you for the free copy of the game goes to – Ratalaika Games
  • Formats – Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch
  • Verified Version – Xbox Series X
  • Release date – June 10, 2022
  • Introductory price from – £4.99


TXH result



4/5

Advantages:

  • Has some good stomach kicks
  • Loves to disrupt and offers weird mini-games
  • Deep world building
  • Never sit still

Disadvantages:

  • Platforming and combat are chaotic
  • Some humor doesn’t land

The information:

  • A big thank you for the free copy of the game goes to – Ratalaika Games
  • Formats – Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch
  • Verified Version – Xbox Series X
  • Release date – June 10, 2022
  • Introductory price from – £4.99


User rating:

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