Spelling It Out
Spellcasting in RPGs has always been a bit of a drag. Loading materia into your weapons and armour and then selecting a spell, or even heading into a menu to tinker with duration, intensity breaks the immersion and fun of magic for me.
In my view, wizards, sorcerers, and warlocks alike conjure their craft by gesticulating wildly, whether it is to an imaginary God or the spirits of the past. How many times growing up did wave your arms around, hoping for a crackle, a flicker or anything to discharge from your hands?
Well, unlike reality The Wizards Enhanced Edition responds with a thunderclap of lighting from your fingertips or a fireball nursed from your palms.
A Great Gesture
Gestures are at the heart of The Wizards Enhanced Edition. They allow you to access an array of upgradeable spells of which include the aforementioned fireball and electric fingers.
A simple flick of the wrist summons a fireball for you to fling at a goblin, orc or some other generic fantasy baddie. It’s a similar proposition with the lighting fingers, expect this time you pull the triggers on both PSVR controllers and flick your wrists backward and forwards and unleash a torrent of lighting. Draw a circle, and you’ll summon a small shield to deflect enemy attacks.
Spellcasting is marred by some minor, but irritating, tracking issues with the PlayStation Move Controllers. Sometimes, especially when you’re playing standing up, they seem to suffer from the odd bout of occlusion. In addition, I found I accidentally cast the ice bow spell quite frequently, when trying to cast the circular arcane spell. They’re minor but annoying issues that happen often enough to warrant a mention, and it can be especially frustrating when you’re battling a horde of goblins and trigger the wrong spell.
A Word on Comfort and Graphics
A big concern for many people coming into VR is the dreaded motion sickness, and I’m delighted to report that developer Carbon Studio has packaged numerous control schemes into The Wizards Enhanced Edition.
The one I prefer and ended up using was the teleportation system, similar to that employed in Skyrim VR, which works great with the front-facing PlayStation Camera. A free-range movement option is available too, which will please VR veterans seeking a more immersive experience.
The spellcasting simulator is built from the ground up using Unreal Engine 4. The result is a game that graphically speaking, is quite decent for a VR game. Environments are realised and are fully fleshed out with the detail you’d expect from a game set in a fantasy world. In addition, character models for enemies are decent, but like many VR games don’t be expecting the fidelity of non-VR AAA games.
What’s The Story?
For a VR game, The Wizards Enhanced Edition has a well-presented and lengthy story mode. There are 11 missions, which are fully narrated by voice actor Jason Marnocha of anime fame. The setting is in a fantasy-like realm, where the world of men is under threat from a bunch of generic fantasy bad guys – including orcs, goblins, dragons, etc.
However, the story isn’t the most exciting nor ground-breaking. It’s not going to set the world alight, subvert your expectations or win any narrative awards. In fact, except for the odd boss battle, the story mode can get monotonous. You reach certain points of each level, get boxed off by a bunch of magical seals that prevent your progress and you zip around the room, fighting all manner of baddies. Rinse and repeat this setup three to four times and it quickly becomes tedious.
Completing each mission grants you a score and registers it on a global leaderboard, with other players results displayed. The points system does incentivize you to replay a mission to beat your score.
You can improve your score by launching each mission with a pre-determined handicap, by leveraging ‘fate cards’. Once discovered, these cards allow you to start a mission with 1HP for instance or increase the health of enemies in exchange for a points multiplier; allowing you to finish a mission with a higher score. It does add replay value for those that are driven to earn the best possible score.
Step Into The Arena, Young Wizard
You’re likely to have the most fun in the arena, as like it’s quite excellent and quite hilarious contemporary Blade and Sorcery, it affords you a sandbox to hone your craft.
For me, at least at its current level of maturity, VR is all about getting your friends over and taking it turns to have a go at playing VR content – and the arena is perfect for that. With how intuitive spell casting is, it’s dead easy to cast spells against waves of enemies, like horde mode in Gears of War.
Like the main story, the arena has a leaderboard so you can compete with your friends and other people around the world for spell-slinging dominance.
Try It For a Spell
The Wizards Enhanced Edition is a good game. It has a unique spell-casting system, that’s loads of fun to use, isn’t that cumbersome and makes you genuinely feel powerful. It’s got a comprehensive, but uninspiring campaign mode, stuffed full of collectibles and competitive leaderboards to encourage replayability.
But it lets itself down with a sub-par plot, uninspired storytelling, and weak gameplay; particularity around the repetitive wave-shooter mechanics it employs.
However, it’s priced at a competitive price point, and the arena mode is loads of fun. Should you buy this game if you want to be a wizard? I think you already know the answer to that, dear apprentice.
Final Verdict: 3.5/5
Available on: PSVR (Reviewed), PC; Publisher: Carbon Studio; Developer: Carbon Studio ; Players: 1 ; Released: March 12th, 2019
Full disclosure: This review is based on a review copy of The Wizards Enhanced Edition given to Hey Poor Player by the publisher.