When VR had its first turn in the limelight in the mid 90’s it was crap, but that didn’t stop us gamers imagining how good it would be if you could do this in VR or do that on VR. One of the things that came up was, wizardry as this was long before the likes of Harry Potter were even a twinkle in JK Rowling’s eye.
Fast forward 20 years (20!!) and we now have VR’s second attempt to bring total immersive gaming to the masses and in this particular game a wizard-based affair. Is this all our childhood dreams come true? Well, almost.
Wizards: Enhanced Edition is split into two game modes, you have your standard single player campaign and then there is an area mode. The single-player campaign sees you exploring a world over-run with goblins, orcs, dragons and anything else you can think of that belongs in a fantasy world. The game is pretty linear in its nature but it doesn’t always feel like it is thanks to some nice variety in the locations and a few decisions that you have make. Exploring is pretty easy in the PSVR you can either opt for the comfortable teleportation method or you can go for the more queasy motion method, which to be fair isn’t as bad as some VR games I’ve played. Unfortunately, though the levels easily descend into the same rhythm. Explore the area, kill enemies and then advance, sometimes you’ll be lucky to have a rudimentary puzzle to solve or a second objective to complete but for the most part, the game sticks to the same template.
The real selling point of The Wizards though is the spell casting which I have to say is an absolute joy to use…when it works (more on that later). What Carbon Studio have done is to map different spells on to various gesture controls, rather than having a list of spells you can choose from and then simply press fire. For example, a flick of the wrist produces a fireball, cross your hands over and an ice bow magically appears. A wave of the left hand and a shield appears. My favorite though is thrusting both hands forward to produce a powerful beam of electricity. It’s dumb stupid fun, and to be honest, I felt more like Dr. Strange than a wizard but, hey who cares right?
There is a strategy involved when using the spells, however. The weaker, or simpler spells like the fire ball or the shield only require one hand, but the more powerfull spells like the bow and lighting require two hands. Certain creatures are effected by different elements more than others so it’s a fine balance to go all out warfare or to be more subtle and chip away while shielding yourself. It’s a subtle strategy but a welcome one none the less.
So, onto the VR itself. This is where the game falls down. When you start the game you get the option to play standing or seated. I choose standing but found that some of the game’s interactions can’t be carried out as the camera fails to pick up the Move controllers if they are too low. There are settings to adjust your height but these didn’t really help. I tried the sitting down option too but still, the camera failed to pick up my movements for the most part. My VR set up is pretty good with plenty of space and the camera at an ideal height. Even adjusting the camera didn’t help much. And this was just in the hub section. In the game, however, in game, the tracking is terrible. Trying to produce a fireball is more a game of luck than skill. Which is annoying as this particular spell is your main source of ammunition. The one-handed spells allow you to strafe while shooting so it’s the ideal spell for tight spots. The number of times I got surrounded and killed simply because I shouldn’t conjure the most basic of spells got ridiculous. Same for the shield although this wasn’t as hit and miss. Strangely the two-handed spells always worked fine. It’s an annoying downside to a game that when works is actually a lot of fun.
There will be times when you’re in a tight spot, you have orcs coming at you from one side, goblins from another and fireball spitting creatures raining down fire at you from above. Mix in the natural awkwardness of the teleportation and set rotating angles method of movement, along with the inaccurate spell detection and more often than not you will die because the game just doesn’t give you a chance.
Thankfully traversing the world isn’t affected by PSVR hiccups and is actually quite pleasant, this is a major plus as developers Carbon Studio has ensured some longevity by adding collectibles that will upgrade your spells and have left Fate Cards which modify the gameplay settings for future playthroughs. Each level has a high score table so you can keep playing over and over until you get to the number 1 spot. Plus there is the arena mode but given the linear nature of the main game, It just doesn’t feel that much of a different mode.
The Wizards is an ambitious game and one that is a natural fit for VR, without the power of Sony’s headset this game would be a drab excursion through a textbook fantasy world. As it stands though, The Wizards is a lot of fun and a lot of credit needs to go to the developers for creating a decent if inaccurate spell system that will make you grin from ear to ear and make you feel more powerful than Harry Potter when it works. It’s just a shame that the technical deficiencies let down the spell casting. Maybe it was just my PSVR set up. Maybe I was too tall for the system, or too low, I don’t know but turning your wrist 90 degrees is not a hard movement to reproduce, but it sure was hard to get the motion to work.
But saying all that. Wizards is an entertaining game when it works with plenty to keep you occupied. I just wish you didn’t have to fight with the controls so much then this would be up there with the best.
The Wizards: Enhanced Edition is available now for PSVR (Reviewed on PS4 Pro with Base PSVR Headset)
Developer: Carbon Studio
Publisher: Carbon Studio
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review we were provided with a review code from the publishers. For our full review policy please go here.
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