Indie Games, where the heart and soul is!

Hedge Wizard #XBLIG VVG Indie Verse Review

VVG Indie Verse Review

“Hedge Wizard”

By: Mr. Deeke

Thanks for joining us today on VVGtv’s Indie Verse Reviews–today we’ll be taking a look at an Xbox Indie title called Hedge Wizard created by the XNA development studio Zombie Bonsai. Hedge Wizard is a creative and entertaining puzzler with unique mechanics that put emphasis on strategy and focus skills. Players must use spells, such as manipulating time, in order to guide their peasants toward toward the gold and get through pesky obstacles.

Hedge Wizard 80 MSP

Hedge Wizard is a refreshing Xbox Indie puzzler that uses very enjoyable graphics and visuals with a creative and original game mechanics that requires players to navigate a labyrinthine maze and manipulate time in order to cross obstacles. This game makes use of critical thinking skills and focus skills as players must pay attention and correctly utilize the chronological spells in order to capture the gold.

Hedge Wizard

  • Developer – Zombie Bonsai
  • Genre – Puzzle & Trivia
  • XBL Marketplace URLHedge Wizard
  • Release Date – 5/19/2011
  • Try or Buy?Try Before You Buy
  • Price – 80 MSP
  • Rating – 4/5

You and your loyal servant wander the world seeking out the only thing all wizards truly love: gold. Use your spells, wits and helpful local peasants to get the gold before the village or your tower is burned, flooded, buried, eaten by zombies or in some other way horribly destroyed. The game includes over twenty puzzling levels.

–Xbox Live Marketplace Description

I. Story Line

Once upon a time there was a love story greater than any other…but it wasn’t romantic. This love was between a Wizard and his unyielding love for gold. The gleaming amber-colored gold was all he cared about, and all he ever wanted. This Wizard set his heart on one goal: to amass as much gold as possible and revel in his splendor and greed.

The Wizard agrees to help the town forever as long as they have enough precious gold to pay up, and with this our sorcerer friend has found a most advantageous position–all the gold he could ever want.
Image from Hedge Wizard

II. Game Mechanics

Hedge Wizard’s mechanics are quite creatively designed and implemented: at it’s heart the game is a hybrid between a maze-runner puzzler that requires players to use tedious trial-and-error tactics and a form of strategy game where focus and critical thinking skills are advantageous to players. Gamers also get to rewind or speed up time, which is useful when players need to retry their path strategy.

The controls for this game are easy to use, however as players progress through the levels, players learn more things. Players use LT and RT to go back and forward in time, respectively, while the left analog stick moves the peasant and the right analog stick moves the wand. The four face buttons, A X B and Y are all reserved for each of the four spells, and RB/LB create and remove a waypoint, respectively.

This game has only one objective–to basically solve each puzzle level and find a way to the gold, collect it, and bring it back to the Wizard’s Tower. Sometimes this isn’t so easy as players have to strategically move around obstacles like wildfires–which burn for a while but actually can be helpful as they clear solid trees out of the way–or rivers and streams. Often there will be multiple paths that are designed to be misleading and throw the player off, and sometimes the only way to find out is through a series of trial-and-error guesses.

Image from Hedge Wizard

III. Unique Features

Rewinding and fast-forwarding through time is something that isn’t found in most Xbox Indie games, especially in a maze puzzler like Hedge Wizard. Players can utilize this along with many magical spells and their own cunning logic skills to save the town–and the gold–from certain doom. This mechanic allows gamers to rewind time and retry any part of the stage, or to fast-forward to keep from having to pick up the same items over and over again. This time manipulation feature is very useful and enjoyable to use, and with the proper implementation it can be used strategically to beat the game.

The myriad of in-game spells (Rain, Wind, Fire & Earth) are another unique feature in Hedge Wizard that sets it apart from other Xbox Indie titles. These spells affect gameplay, and when they are cast and used players will select the terrain–which is basically set up in tile squares–and affects the level depending on the spell (Earth spells decimate mountains or boil water, making it cross-able, and Rain spells can fill dry riverbeds to create natural barriers from Fire). This mechanic is quite interesting and gives a whole new feel to the game, and levels are somewhat like palettes and the magic wand itself is a paint brush, of sorts.

Image from Hedge Wizard

IV. Critique

The Good

Creative and Original Gameplay Elements. This game creatively uses a quite dynamic set of elemental spells in an interactive level environment all the while requiring players to use quick thinking and wits to solve animated maze puzzles. The original elements and design of the game are a great touch to the Xbox Indie title, and the game itself is highly recommended to puzzler fans who like a challenge.

Fun and Entertaining. Whether you’re preventing the town from being destroyed by a frenzied wildfire or using a series of spells in tandem to save the Wizard’s Tower from being flooded by flowing rivers, this game is entertaining and enjoyable. Even when you lose you get to try again, and there’s no aggravating game over screen as long as you remember to rewind time to simply retry.

Signature Indie Style. This Xbox Indie title exhibits a charming and signature style that is associated with Indie games–it’s instantly identifiable as an independently developed game. From the humorous and likable graphics, character sprites and renders, and other visual aspects about the game to the in-game mechanics as well as the menus and transition screens.

The Bad

Challenging and Sometimes Confusing. This game can be frustrating at times: usually there is only one or two ways of doing a certain puzzle, and sometimes it takes a bit to figure it out. Constantly using trial-and-error strategy soaks up time and can be frustrating, and some gamers out there may not like this aspect of the game. Players do get better as the game goes along, though, and they receive more spells and other useful abilities to aid them.

Image from Hedge Wizard

VI. Wrap-Up

Overall, Hedge Wizard is a great Xbox Live Indie Game that’s definitely worthy checking out, and is highly recommended to all maze puzzle fans. In fact this game is moreso a fully animated and interactive maze puzzle that requires a mix of concentration and critical thinking skills to master. With an adorable style and humorous level intros, the game itself attracts gamers of all ages, and its in-game design elements are quite dynamic and impressive for an Xbox Indie release.

For more information on Hedge Wizard or the studio that developed it, Zombie Bonsai, please visit their official website or Follow them on Twitter for instant updates.


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