208562_largerWazHack [Free] is an educational game. It teaches core success skills, like "eat your Orc while it's fresh," "don't take your pet skeleton to church," "just because you've found Mjolnir doesn't mean you're worthy to wield it," and "you will die."

Okay, so WazHack is a roguelike, and one that owes a lot to Nethack [Free / Free (HD)], including a turn-based mechanic, shopkeepers who will mess you up if you screw with them, and the permadeath.

The fundamentals are traditional, staples, but this game does a lot to make itself a very engaging and moble-friendly roguelike. First, there's the fact that it's side-scrolling. This makes each new level of the dungeon of Waz manageable in scope, makes creating choke points easier, and allows for a crystal-clear automap that takes most of the memory work out of moving back up the dungeon to visit merchants or collect cached supplies. As Jared noted in his First Impression, the game's pricing is generous: try all eight classes for free, and buy the ones you like in two-packs for 99¢ each. That's it for IAP.


The game's interface was designed for touch screens but isn't perfect: it's too easy to order your hero to move when you're trying to select your portrait, and to change your aim with a ranged attack when you're trying to confirm it. Also, until you figure out that you nearly always want to tap a destination rather than holding down on the direction you want to go, you'll die many a pointless death and fall off every time you try to ascend a ladder.

Despite these quirks, the interface feels natural for touch, and WazHack's interface possesses the clarity and ease of use that hardcore roguelikes are notorious for lacking. The interface is minimal until needed, then context menus and hotkey-like filters for your inventory pop up when you need them. Just remember that the filters associate with default actions, so if you want to throw, rather than quaff, that potion of blindness, you need the full inventory.

The game's art is lucid rather than pretty, and some might even call it "crude and ugly." They're missing the point: WazHack's art is symbolic, like the ASCII of its ancestors, and generally provides a lot clearer sense of what is present and what is going on than either the no-frills, no-animation of a game like Brogue [Free (HD)], or the over-rendered and super-shaded art of a modern AAA game.

The clarity of the design and art makes it really easy to pick this game up and continue where you were, be that 5 minutes, two days or a week ago. It's almost Tufteian. Of course, this all falls apart in the few instances when the game suddenly asks you to type in what you want (controlled polymorph and wishing).

All this makes the game really easy to put down and pick back up again, assuming you can bear to put it down. Right now, Emma the Frosty, my 11th level White Witch, is busy confounding a Roman Legion into fighting itself (and feeding their corpses to her pet wolf). She's invisible, regenerates mana like a mofo, and is rocking a turban with her +2 blessed Japanese Robe, courtesy of a Jinni and a Tengu respectively.

At this point, I think only the anticipated iPad release of Dungeons of Dredmor might draw me away from WazHack - and I'm not even sure about that.

TouchArcade Rating

  • toxiccheese


    Up until this review, i had no intentions of buying this. It just looked amateurish. This review may have talked me into picking this up.

  • MidianGTX

    I always thought Brogue had a quite lot of frills compared to classic roguelikes. How many ASCII games can you name with animated liquids?

    • http://rekzkarz.com/ REkzkaRZ

      So is this a non-sequitur? I'm not following the connection of this comment? Brogue is some random rogue-like?
      What's the connectino w/this game?

      • MidianGTX

        The review mentioned Brogue as being a "no-frills" roguelike, but in comparison to a traditional ASCII roguelike it's been modernized and frilled-up considerably to make it more accessible.

  • bigred447uk

    I love this game. Its absolutely compulsive playing !

  • http://rekzkarz.com/ REkzkaRZ

    This game is the best $2 spent on iOS so far! I rec this game to all my iOS friends, no hesitation.

  • oooooomonkey

    This game is brilliant. I started off with buying the knight class and played quite a few games with them until I bought the wizards and it was like playing a totally different game.
    Love the randomness and permadeath every play is something different.

  • Biowhere

    Personally I found the art style so distracting that I quit playing the game. It seems like an attempt at a more cartoonish style but there isn't an underlying style to the artwork. IMHO it lacks the charm and whimsy that exemplifies great artwork.

    It's really just Rogue turned on its edge, sort of like Terraria compared with Minecraft.

    • bigred447uk

      No disrespect to your point of view but to offer a different take i personally find the art utterly charming.

    • Dams

      Agreed. Art couldn't be more ugly

      • SwordBytes

        Love the art.

        Some of us come from the days of the ZX spectrum.

        You guys don't know ugly...;)

      • Karzay

        My first console was the ColecoVision, and I think this game is pretty ugly. But it's also a lot of fun too. It's a bit sad because you can tell someone spent a lot of time on modeling and everything, but the art just didn't get there.

      • http://rekzkarz.com/ REkzkaRZ

        Yeah, I like the art. It's like cool claymation.
        I occasionally get frustrated w/hard to spot objects.

    • Blabber Flappystein

      I agree that the art is not very appealing; when I first saw screenshots of this game, I was initially put off by its appearance. However, once I started playing it (I downloaded it because what the heck, it's free!), I found the gameplay absolutely enthralling! To anyone who doesn't want to try it because of the visual style I say give it a shot! It's truly a great game!

    • basil

      Pretty tasteless art, I agree. There are ways to do ugly right (Dragonslasher, Morrowind, Another World) but the theme here is off putting. I'll give another shot, maybe it will grow on me.

      Terraria has a wonderful art style on that note.

  • XvEsunavX

    Warwick has been doing amazing things for a long time.

  • worldcitizen1919

    I found the touch controls ruined the game for me. To many deaths from the character going the wrong way. Controls killed this game for me. Had to delete.

    • Victor Grunn

      Yeah, I'm in a similar boat. I love all things roguelike, but the last time I tried this game it felt supremely... 'slippery'. Got frustrating fast.

  • icepulse

    Also, I have an iphone5 and NO problems running high-end 3D stuff, yet this game plays like a pig. Hiccups every time (I assume) it loads a new area in, see: OFTEN.


    This game is awful

    • http://rekzkarz.com/ REkzkaRZ

      No it isn't. It's great. But y'know what? You could've put in ONE reason (ie fact) to backup your opinion. But you didn't, so I say -- you are wrong.

  • Styrixa

    I'm on an IPhone 4, and the controls and graphics are great. I've never had a problem telling my character what to do, and am always amazed at the new options available. 4.5 stars is an appropriate rating. It is amazingly easy to pick up and just as difficult to master.

  • Ethan Corey Cathcart

    The art style heavily reminds me of Swordigo (iOS game)... Which I really hate. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely loved Swordigo (beat the entire game) but the art is very off putting. The art style they're going for in this game looks very amateurish/unprofessional. No, I'm not a graphics hose, but the art style has to look somewhat appealing to me for me to buy it.

  • Canovaccio

    I think this game is excellent. I have spent more hours playing this than any other IOS game. In fact, this is my favorite roguelike ever.

  • FleeGamer

    I love the humour in this game!

  • vic_viper_001

    Good GOD this game is choppy. I turned on the FPS counter out of curiosity and wasn't too surprised to see I was getting around 2 to 5 FPS.

    5th gen iPod users need not apply...

    • http://rekzkarz.com/ REkzkaRZ

      Not choppy on iphone 4. Strange, I thought your iPod 5 had better stats?

      • vic_viper_001

        Oh... It does, but the choppiness doesn't lie. Don't knock me down one point until you've tried it on a 5G yourself.

      • Cheeseball

        I've got a 5th gen 32 GB iPod Touch with 7 GB space free and no visible performance hit here.

      • http://rekzkarz.com/ REkzkaRZ

        @Vic_Viper_001:disqus - maybe you're choppy b/c you have too many apps running simultaneously?
        I noticed this app does seem to drain my battery a bit, might also slow other stuff down -- but if you have a bunch of memory hogs running, no idea what might happen...?

  • Ryan Bach

    I'm not a huge fan of the graphics and art style, but the game itself is great. It is very accessible in the sense of being easy to play on a mobile device, and to pick up and play for a few minutes at a time, but not in the sense of being easy or shallow.

    My only complaint so far is that the dev goes a little *too* far with the idea of withholding information to let the player figure it out. I'm fine with that for items and monsters and stuff - not learning about new parts of the game until the first time they kill you is half the fun of roguelikes, isn't it? - but the game doesn't ever seem to tell you basic things like how much different items weigh or what each primary stat does, which means you either wiki that stuff early on or accept that you don't really know what is going on and can't make informed decisions about the few things you can control, like initial stats.

    • Reign409

      At least now I know I'm not the only one who's desperately chugged pots only to have myself set on fire.

  • Nycteris

    Whether the art is great or awful, it's easy to tell a "d" from a "D" this way heh.

    I really enjoy this game, though I'm not getting too far.

  • Ben Norvell

    Love this game, spot on review TA.

  • rabidnz

    This game has wonderful mechanics but the art style and movement system is a horrible joke which cripples the game. I only bought it off the back of its review on here - which proves once again that TA are getting tired of reviewing games and really the stars mean sweet f all these days. I am on the verge of deleting ta because of all these embarassing reviews you are putting put for average at best games, some blatant copy and pastes, leading me to believe you are financially sponsored by gaming companies.

WazHack Reviewed by Tof Eklund on . Rating: 4.5