Lots of wizards can shoot fireballs. Blasts of ice and electricity aren't so uncommon either. However, creating large stones out of nothingness requires an MC^2 amount of E, so only the most skilled are able to accomplish it. Such is the power of Wizard Hult, star of the new puzzle platformer from Bloblob. Alas, a magnificent beard, an Unseen University scholarship and Earthbending skills that would make Toph and Bumi jealous, is not in and of itself a sufficient display of manliness for the witch, Shiloh, who has caught his eye. And so she wait atop her challenge-filled tower waiting for the wizard to show his dedication... and bring her something expensively shiny.
Wizard Hult is controlled with the [arrow] or [WASD] keys to run and jump, with [down] or [S] used to enter dungeon doors. In each level you use the mouse to drag out rectangles to create stones to jump upon, clicking the blocks again to destroy it, or simply waiting for it to disappear. Your magic gauge limits the stones you can create, but it recharges over time. Enemies such as skeletons and ogre block your path, but the can be killed by dropping a stone of sufficient size and momentum on them. Other obstacles, like ghosts and swinging spiked balls require more platforming finesse. There are twenty levels to travel, twenty treasures to obtain, and many, many deaths between you and your witchy maiden. Go off to see her, wizard!
Analysis: There are three things I particularly enjoy about Wizard Hult. First, there is the plot. Basic as it is, It is a delightful twist on the classic "hero storms the castle to rescue the princess and start a romance" tropes. Here, the damsel is a witch and is not the captive but the ruler of her tower and all the challenges therein. What's more, the few lines she has gives her a personality with proper streaks of impish cruelty and greediness. This makes it slightly more realistic that she would feign interest in the lovably-doofy wizard when he shows up to meet her with A) Bags of Treasure and B) The masochistic number of lives lost throughout the castle. I don't think it's a relationship that will last, but the dynamic at play is relatively unusual for video game romances.
Secondly, there is the block-creating spell mechanic in and of itself. This is a genius element to base a game on, and makes for a near perfect balance of its puzzle and platforming elements. I would have liked it if you could create blocks while moving, and some of them seem to disappear way too quickly, but it turns out that a dash of sandbox can work wonders. Thirdly, I always enjoy it when a developer seems to have thought out the full implications of their mechanics, and this here is certainly the case. Sure, the central use of the blocks is the be jumped on, but they can also be dropped on baddies, block fireballs, impede the progress of ogres, and so forth. This might not seem like much but considering this is a medium where wizards with fire spells often have to search for a key instead of being able to light a wooden door on fire, it was nice to see.
Not all of it is perfect, though. There seems to be a couple missed opportunities to use the mechanics in additional ways: physics puzzles and the like. Maybe I'm the only one who never gets tired of the "Drop a weight on the other side of the see-saw to launch yourself into the air" puzzle, but it would have had a natural home here. Also, I would have liked it if wizard could jump the tiniest bit higher... some of the corners of blocks couldn't seem to decide whether I had cleared them or not, making the controls more than a little sticky. Finally, I would have appreciated a little earlier warning re: needing treasures for the "good" ending. Getting some of the treasures requires platforming skill that I apparently don't possess, making it a bit of an anti-climax, though that may be a problem on this side of the screen.
However, the fact that I indeed find myself retrying level after level to collect everything is itself telling. Wizard Hult does have flaws, but they are more than made up for by the unique mechanics at play. Put on your robe and Wizard Hult for a while. You won't regret it.