Virtual reality gamers have been taking part in Carbon Studios’ spellcasting adventure for around about a year, but it’s only now that The Wizards has hit PlayStation VR. It’s in an enhanced form too, bringing with it a bunch of new goodies that returning players will be able to appreciate – don’t worry PC VR gamers, it’s available as an update for you guys too.
I didn’t play the game the first time around so I might not necessarily be able to appreciate some of these improvements, but that didn’t stop me having a blast with The Wizards: Enhanced Edition as I flailed my arms wildly (for magical purposes obviously) throughout the game’s thoroughly enjoyable adventure.
The Wizards: Enhanced Edition’s main campaign sees you working through an assortment of fantasy levels, all whilst casting a range of powerful spells upon your foes and solving small puzzles along the way. Pretty straight forward, right? Levels are fairly linear in design and don’t other too much in the way of exploration outside of the occasional nook here and there, whilst there are also some pretty big bosses to take down (which can be very impressive). The environments themselves are pretty enough in design too and offer a decent amount of variety between them all, even if nothing on show will necessarily wow you all that much.
It may not sound like the most enthralling of experiences based upon that alone, and yes, The Wizards: Enhanced Edition can be guilty of keeping things simple in some ways. However, it also manages to make playing as a wizard feel utterly compelling, with the spell-casting itself and the abilities at your disposal doing more than enough to keep you entertained throughout the entirety of the main campaign.
You don’t just choose an attack and hit your enemies with it, but rather use two Move controllers and perform specific motions with your hands and arms to unleash your deadly spells upon your enemies. This could mean clenching your fists, spinning your arm around, or just swiping it across your body – you know, the sort of stuff you’d expect a wizard to do when casting spells. There are a good range of abilities at your disposal too, with the likes of fire balls, lightening blasts, and ice arrows to use when taking out the monsters in your path. You can even upgrade these attacks as you work through the game, and not just with stat boosts but by actually by changing them up to make them feel a lot more powerful to use. Admittedly, it can feel a little bit fiddly getting used to actually hitting your magic attacks at your foes accurately, but it’s something you get used to the more you play. It just makes for a REALLY fun time, and whilst the core concept of using motion controls to cast spells isn’t original (hello Sorcercy), it’s done so effectively here that it’s hard not to get totally immersed in the experience from start to end.
Add to all of that a fun (albeit cliché) story to follow that’s presented with some nice cutscenes, and it’s easy to see that the developers put a bit of effort into ensuring The Wizards: Enhanced Edition’s campaign is enjoyable to work through. It’s on the shorter side at around five-hours, but there are some collectibles to find along the way as well as some special card-based modifiers that can add some special changes to levels to spice them up a bit, so there’s plenty to keep you coming back for more. It’s definitely a more involving experience than just taking on waves upon waves of enemies in one spot like a lot of other PlayStation VR titles have you do, so it’s certainly one of the more engaging experiences available on the platform right now.
If you’re into that sort of thing though you’ll be glad to see there’s an Arena mode on offer where you can battle waves of enemies, though by the time you’re done with the campaign you probably won’t want to. It’s not that it’s bad by any means (believe me – I’ll never get bored of spellcasting in the game), but rather that it feels a lot less fulfilling than working across environments and feeling like you’re a part of a proper adventure. It does give players something extra to do if they just want a quick blast of spellcasting, though I’d always recommend going score-chasing in the campaign instead.
Control-wise, The Wizards: Enhanced Edition has both free locomotion and teleportation methods on offer, so you can use what suits you. I thought I’d never say it in a first-person game, but I actually preferred the latter – it could be a little awkward moving around whilst performing attacking manoeuvres at the same time in free-locomotion, whilst it also feels fitting to be able to teleport as a wizard. It’s down to the player though and I’m sure everyone will have a method they prefer.
There are plenty of comfort settings in place too, including one that affects the accuracy of your shots – if you’re struggling at all I’d recommend giving this a look. One thing I will commend the game for though is its lack of tracking issues, with everything managing to work perfectly throughout. A game like this would suffer if it didn’t pick up arm movements correctly or lost the player’s position, but thankfully it was flawless and ensured casting spells never felt awkward at all.
Developer: Carbon Studios
Publisher: Carbon Studios
Platform(s): PlayStation VR (Reviewed), HTC Vive, Oculus Rift