Virtual reality is a great medium for any game where you need to use your hands. Due to having move controllers on PSVR, any games where you must manipulate objects or in this case, cast and conjure spells, become much more tangible and immersive. I have played many of these games recently and even reviewed a few. I was asked to Review Wizards: Enhanced Edition and I jumped at the chance. Magic is fun, I like VR, let’s do this!
You play a wizard who is being guided by a once-almighty enchanter. The story in this game is a little bit on the sparse side. That’s fine as long as the gameplay keeps being enjoyable and keeps me invested in the world. For some unthinkable reason, you are the only wizard capable of stopping hordes of goblins, ogres and other unworldly creatures from taking over the world. You must hone your wizarding skills, learn new spells and vanquish waves of foes and become victorious.
Gameplay is quite simple, you move through various environments and solve puzzles or defeat enemies to proceed. There are collectables scattered throughout that you can use to upgrade your spells, these are normally on alternate paths or hidden within the environment. You move through these quite short levels trying to maximise your score and beat other players on the inbuilt scoreboards. The puzzles are very minimal and sometimes require a few switches or doors to be activated. These segments are a welcomed break to the combat arenas littered through the stages.
Thrown in for good measure is the odd boss. They can look massive on the VR headset and mechanically they work great with this games awesome spellcasting mechanics. A mixture of blocking attacks and firing back, while sometimes avoiding environmental hazards. The boss battles are fun, well executed and provide a welcome break from the waves of smaller foes.
By far the best feature of this game is the spell casting and summoning. You cast spells by creating movements with your hands, it really feels exceptional and makes you feel very powerful. For instance, to summon a shield you simply hold down the trigger on the left move controller make a line from left to right and let go. It’s simple, effective and very tactile. You can conjure ice bows, fireballs, lightning and all sorts of mysterious miracles. It all works well and I very rarely fumbling around trying to cast spells.
The controls are very reliable and well thought out. You can use full motion, teleportation or as I did, a mixture of the two. I had no issues at all with the movement systems or the VR implementation in any way. It was pretty flawless and within minutes it felt very natural. Conjuring the ice bow and firing it in VR was pure joy. It handled, appeared and fired perfectly. In fact, as I said earlier, I have played a few games like this recently and this is definitely the best VR spell implementation I have experienced so far.
On another note, the aiming in this game is superb. When firing the fireball it will auto aim at whatever you are looking at. It took a little bit of adjustment to fire spells with a mixture of head and arm movement but it really works well. It takes a lot of the hassle out of trying to correctly aim while firing spells, leaving a lot of the thought process to movement and blocking. Its a well-designed system that again reinforces this games well thought out control scheme and casting systems.
The combat in this title is very good if not slightly elementary. Most of the time when entering an area you will be sealed in and you will not be able to proceed until you have vanquished all the enemies. You get various forms of foes thrown at you from casters, fast small goblins or big lumbering ogres. You must use your various spells and movement to eliminate them as quick as possible. The mixture of motion controls and teleportation helps here a lot, I could use motion controls to line up spells but when things got too hectic I could teleport away. Using the shield is worthwhile here, once summoned it stays on your arm a bit like Captain America and can be used to block projectiles. You can use it to simultaneously block while casting offensive spells with the other hand, it works like a charm.
Your spells can be upgraded with the fairy crystals you have collected on your romps through the various levels. They can be augmented in many ways and when you get to the end of the upgrade tree you get a ‘master challenge’. This presents you with an upgrade that must be earned rather than bought. In exchange, you get access to an amazing to augment for your spell. For instance, the one for the lightning spell enables you to fire separately from each hand, targetting 2 enemies at once and it’s a great upgrade and worth the effort to complete.
The campaign is a little on the short side but replayable due to the scoreboards and collectable modifiers. Hidden in chests are playing cards that add modifiers to your runs. They do things like give the enemies more or less health, making the game easier or more difficult as you require. These modifiers reduce or increase your score by a certain percentage, meaning you can try different setups and try and hunt down those elusive high scores.
The graphical presentation on display is quite good. It’s not mind-blowing by any means but good enough to keep you immersed. The areas and landscapes are varied and designed well enough. Some of the textures and models do seem a bit basic at times but this is by no means a game breaker. The enemies are designed well enough and have some variety. Your spells are rendered nicely and the lighting effects surrounding them are good. Overall I would like the graphics to be a bit richer and cleaner but what’s on offer is sufficient enough.
Sound-wise Wizard: Enhanced Edition is good and I especially loved the narrator. He made me laugh on numerous occasions with his witty quips and funny tutorial spiel. The sound effects and soundtrack, while not being remarkable, do their job efficiently. They keep you grounded in the game’s world and create tension when required. The music is good and while I can’t remember any of the musical tracks, I remember it fitting the style of game adequately.
The Wizards performed very well. I had zero crashes, zero graphical hitches and zero bugs. This is great news as I was able to just enjoy the game and get on with all the wizardry. Nothing bothers me more than broken games, they ruin the experience, take you out of the world and make playing a chore. This game has no issues in this department and was a joy to play through, completely hassle-free.
From its amazing spell conjuring to its great control options, The Wizards is a great experience that will be enjoyed by most PSVR owners. The combat arenas can become slightly repetitive but they are broken up by light puzzles and awesome boss fights. The motion gesture spell casting is brilliantly realized and really makes you feel like you are actually creating magic. The campaign is quite short but is replayable due to the various cards you use to tweak the scoring options and climb the leaderboards. If you up for a bit of spellcasting then look no further, this game is a budding wizards fantasy.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*