If you love yourself some PSVR goodness as much as I do, then you probably already know that The Wizards Enhanced Edition is out now. You probably also know that it’s release comes right on the heels of The Mage’s Tale, another PSVR spell-casting adventure. I really enjoyed my time with The Mage’s Tale, and I was excited to see if the team at Carbon Studio could raise the bar for virtual wizardry.
The Wizards has been available in PCVR early access for a couple of years, and I’m happy to say that this PSVR build of the game is truly the “enhanced” edition. In addition to an all new level, a brand new map, multiple movement styles, and game mechanic improvements across the board, they’ve also added much-needed checkpoints. So, thanks PC VR gamers for cleaning this one up for us!
For those of you not following along close enough, The Wizards is VR only, so you’ll need the Sony VR headset and pair of Move controllers. It’s also confirmed that the game will support the 3D Rudder foot controller, once it’s released, which I’ll get to later. The first iteration of The Wizards featured teleport only. I’m very happy to say that is no longer the case. You can still teleport around if that’s your jam, but a tasty Skyrimesque free movement option is here and it works great. Even if you pick the free movement option, you’ll still need to teleport occasionally, as there are many sections of the game where areas are too high, or generally inaccessible without teleporting. Teleporting is handled with the Move button on the right controller while free movement is handled with the left. You can also adjust the walk speed and the turn speed, along with the usual click turning option. I typically prefer smooth turning, but this one was a little too slow for me. The slower (than I prefer) turning speed coupled with the bright colors and fast walk speed just didn’t mesh for me. I eventually switched to a 30% click turn, and surprisingly, I liked that better. I played the first couple hours with smooth turning and a couple of hours with the click turning. I know some players hate click turning with the passion of a thousand burning suns, but what’s important is the game has plenty of comfort options for even the pickiest VR gamer. I suspect increasing the turn speed would be an easy (and welcomed) addition down the road.
On to my absolute favorite part of The Wizards Enhance Edition: the hand-gesture based spell system. Most games require you to scroll through a magic/skill tree or press a certain button to choose an attack or spell. Not The Wizards. Instead, each spell requires you to perform a certain hand gesture to summon and cast the magic. Some of them are simple. Summoning a shield with your non-dominant hand, or tossing a fireball takes only one hand and can mostly be mastered very quickly. A cool ice bow spell and a Palpatine-like lightning bolt are two spells that require you to wave both arms in just the right manner to access. The last few spells are more difficult to explain but rest assured that the gestures are difficult at first, but are extremely satisfying to pull off and master in the heat of battle. All in all, there are seven gesture based spells that can be upgraded with gemstones that you will find on your journey.
It was plenty frustrating when the spells didn’t seem to work early on in the game when the bad guys started swarming you, but as your memory and skill improve, it turns out to be a very rewarding and satisfying mechanic. My biggest problem with the gesture-based spells was that some of these spells are extremely difficult or impossible to summon while also retreating from an onslaught of orcs and all other disgusting creatures. It was here where I really understand how the foot controlled 3D Rudder motion controller could really shine and improve the fun and immersion of the game. Another downside was the throwing of the spells could be a little hit or miss. Some of that can be attributed to the PSVR tracking limitations, but after throwing a million virtual footballs around 2MD VR Football, the idea that you can’t throw accurately with the current tech falls apart.
Summoning and casting the spells are why we’re all here, and it really does make for some enjoyable combat. Sadly, this combat is also a constant reminder that this game is basically a wave shooter with a story shoehorned around it. As you advance through and explore the admittedly beautiful and varied levels, eventually you’ll get so far and all of the doors will lock and you’ll know it’s time to survive a set amount of enemies. Once you do, the way forward will appear, and you’ll be able to do some very light exploring before the game locks you into the next wave. The story was never able to elevate this simple design, but it’s a testament to the unique combat that I still enjoyed the ride.
In addition to some light exploring, they also have some puzzles to solve, but they were seldom very clever or much fun to solve. They are quite a few different enemies you’ll run into, such as orcs, ogres, imps, and specters, but most of them felt like the same thing with just different skin. The good news is the bosses were cool and were fun to kill. It took a bit of trial and error, and I was very thankful they added checkpoints to the PSVR Advance Edition.
In addition to the campaign, there is also a horde mode, which of course is a map with endless enemies attacking. It is what it is, but I found it useful for mastering my spell conjuring and speeding up that process. The campaign will take you around 6 hours or so. They did hide some collectibles around for you to search for, including the spell enhancing stones and something they call Fate Cards, which basically act as a cool difficulty meter. For instance, some cards may increase enemy hitpoints while other cards decrease it. You can mix and match cards for each level, adding a neat twist on the standard difficulty settings.
The story is typical high fantasy stuff and is never very interesting. As I said, the environments look really good with below average jaggies and VR blur on my OG PlayStation. It may not be the most original setting, and it can sometimes be a little bland, but seeing virtual dragons and giants is still a damn good time.
It’s not perfect by any stretch, and the spell summoning and casting are tricky to master but so worth it when you do it just right. If you’re looking for a “deepish” adventure VR game then The Wizards is an easy recommendation.
The Wizards Enhanced Edition PS4/PSVR Review
Overall - Good - 6.9/10
While the gesture-based spell summoning and spell casting can sometimes be frustrating, it still kept me coming back well after I checked out from the lackluster story. At the end of the six-hour campaign, I really felt like a powerful wizard, which, I suppose was the point all along.
Fun and engaging gesture-based spells
Cool twist to the typical difficulty setting
Repetitive wave-based combat
The spells don’t always go where they’re supposed to go
Reviewed using base PS4.
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When Jeremy isn’t writing books or playing video games, he’s living his life one random movie references at a time.