Video games are important because they share unexpected stories that would otherwise remain untold. Lost Decade Games has followed A Wizard's Lizard with A Wizard's Lizard: Soul Thief to tell the story of Raga, a wizard's pet dragon, who is accidentally killed and returned to life. The accident that killed Raga also threw the inhabitants of the wizard's dungeon into anarchy. Raga is only one who can bring order back to the dungeon and its attendant kitchens, courtyards, and libraries; however, the task is made easier by the tenuous connection between Raga's body and soul. Raga's soul can zap between any monster, transforming it into the playable character. Soul Thief embraces its rogue-lite/action RPG parentage by encouraging death and constant body-switching as ways of experimenting with different strategies.
Despite the near-infinite supply of bodies, Raga's journey is designed to take many runs to complete. None of the monsters I encountered were especially hardy and food is limited, so progress requires constantly switching hosts. Completionists take note of the constant switching, as each host that defeats the final boss unlocks new material. The only other persistent elements between runs are Raga's toys and the exclusive currency used to purchase them. Toys in Raga's toybox unlock new items, rooms, and monsters within the dungeon. While the idea of spending resources to add new monsters to a dungeon seems counter-intuitive at first, these rare creatures also provide new hosts for the small dragon to possess.
Switching bodies and interacting with the dungeon is a simple process, which is helpful when speedy monsters are crowding close. Tapping Y shoots Raga's soul in a straight line. The first enemy it touches becomes the new host; however, until the transfer is complete Raga is vulnerable. Missing the shot is an invitation to a beating. Each monster unleashes a primary attack with the X button, while A uses loot. During most of my time with the demo, I prefered taking the form of a haunted book that shot a stream of bats as its basic attack. If I angled the bats just right, they would push enemies onto the dungeon's traps. My preferred piece of loot was a pumpkin wand with a large number of charges that launched fragmentation explosives. Other potential hosts include a chubby penguin who shoots icicles, an animated pen that leaks blobby puddles of ink, and a suit of armor that hops around the screen.
A Wizard's Lizard is available now on Steam as an Early Access title. Its core mechanics feel solid; moving forward, the primary challenge seems to be adding more ways to keep exploration fresh and strategic. The developer notes mention more monsters, more ability interactions, and more side quests. Those all sound like strong additions for building on the version that was presented at E3.