Plenty of genres have made the move to virtual reality perfectly over the years, with the Quest 2 full of the likes of shooters, sports titles, rhythm games, and platformers for players to sink their teeth into. Unfortunately, one genre that hasn’t seen quite as much love is the JRPG, with limited options there for players who want to embark on a deep fantasy adventure. Ruinsmagus, the new release from developer CharacterBank, looks to fill that void, with its mystical journey seeing players unravelling a mysterious narrative whilst dungeon-crawling and beating down baddies with their magical powers.
Check out some screenshots down below:
Ruinsmagus takes place in the city of Grand Amnis, with the player part of a guild that specialises in exploring the ruins beneath the land. Whilst these ruins are full of artifacts to collect, they also home some secrets that have laid dormant but that may ultimately prove perilous to the people of the city. It’s up to you to explore these ruins further, find out what exactly lays within them, and ultimately ensure that Grand Amnis remains safe from any underlying threat. It’s your typical JRPG plot really, though some intriguing characters and neat world design ensure that it remains interesting throughout.
It is worth noting that whilst the game does have voice acting, it is all in Japanese. It’s a text-heavy game, so you can expect to do a whole lot of reading as you uncover more story detail. It’s not a bad thing really and I’ve played plenty of JRPGs that have done the same thing in the past, though I’d be lying if I said it didn’t break the immersion of the storytelling offered within virtual reality a little bit.
As a big JRPG fan, I was mighty impressed with how Ruinsmagus felt to begin with. The city itself looks wonderful and brings plenty of detail, the anime-style visuals brought plenty of personality to the experience, whilst seeing quests I had to complete on display had me excited to delve further into the game. I’m a big magic user in JRPGs, so getting to focus on unleashing the elements was appealing from the get-go too.
“It can be repetitive, but I never felt bored, with enough charm offered across both the action and storytelling to make my journey feel worthwhile.”
The more I played though, the more Ruinsmagus felt less like a JRPG and more like a typical first-person VR adventure. I get it; when using motion controls, every game you play is going to take a more action-orientated turn. With its dungeon-crawling gameplay though, I found myself simply aiming at targets, blasting away at them with my varied magical abilities, and then using my shield to block attacks or quickly strafing out of the way when possible… something that I’ve done a lot of in plenty of action titles on my Quest 2. It just didn’t feel like I was playing what I would typically consider a JRPG, where turn-based and strategic battling is often at the forefront.
That’s not to say that Ruinsmagus isn’t fun though. Some of the magic you have at your disposal is great, with plenty of versatility offered within your repertoire of skills that offer both offensive and defensive capabilities, which ensure showdowns with enemies can be really exciting. You’ll find incoming projectiles blasting at you from all angles at times, with swift player mobility and some quick-reactions often imperative to your success. Add to that the fact that your own spells pack a punch and that there are some epic boss battles which will really test your skills, and it becomes easy to see that Ruinsmagus has a lot going for it.
There is one caveat though: the controls can be fiddly to get used to. You’re required to pull off different button combinations and movements to perform actions in Ruinsmagus and it took me a good hour or so to get used to it. It’s not that it’s not intuitive, but rather that there’s a lot to learn when flicking between different spells or using items. There wasn’t an option to for left-handed support either, which could make performing some actions feel a little bit awkward for a lefty like me.
Check out some screenshots down below:
I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel repetitive in places too. Whilst there are twenty-five story-driven quests in the game, a lot of them can feel samey over time, with the fundamentals of each dungeon not differing that much outside of a few small changes to the aesthetic or colour scheme. There isn’t a huge variety of enemies either, so you can expect to go through some of the same kind of battles over and over again as you work through the roughly nine-hour experience. The linearity of the dungeon design doesn’t help, whilst the lack of loot to collect within each one feels like a missed opportunity. Again, they’re all aspects of design that make Ruinsmagus feel less like a JRPG and more like your typical VR action title.
Still, whilst it has flaws, I enjoyed my time with the game – especially with some of the improvements you can make when returning to the game’s main hub. I loved upgrading my spells and utilising some of the more powerful ones in combat, whilst getting to interact with the inhabitants of Grand Amnis and learn more about the world always felt rewarding. It can be repetitive, but I never felt bored, with enough charm offered across both the action and storytelling to make my journey feel worthwhile.
Ruinsmagus might not be the deep JRPG experience VR fans were hoping for, but it still offers an enjoyable adventure to embark on – even IF it can be guilty of feeling repetitive in places.
With the fun combat and spell variety, vibrant world design, and charming storytelling, there’s enough offered in this magical adventure to keep players immersed until the very end. It’s a shame there isn’t more variety with the enemy or dungeon design, but the journey to protect Grand Amnis never feels like a dull one.
Platform(s): Meta Quest 2 (Reviewed), PC VR