The Wizards Review

Game Title: The Wizards
Developer: Carbon Studio
Platform: 
PC VR
Price: $19.99
Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPNb-sxikBU

What is it?

The Wizards is a stage-based VR action game that puts the player in the role of a powerful wizard complete with an expanding arsenal of spells.

The game kicks off with a basic tutorial taking you through the ropes of movement and casting the three initial spells.  Movement includes both options for smooth locomotion and teleportation, the latter functioning as one of the wizard’s spells.  Spellcasting is pulled off through the use of gesture-based hand movements, initially starting off simple but becoming more complex for later spells.  Starting spells include your basic fireball which you simply throw like it were a baseball, a ice bow which functions similar to other Archery VR games, and a shield for blocking projectiles and melee attacks.

As mentioned, the game is structured in a stage-based manner, with each one taking varying amount of time which is detailed on screen before choosing.  Said stages include a varied mix of both combat and puzzle solving and encourage players to really explore thanks to the inclusion of secret areas and items to find.

As you complete levels and find hidden items you will earn a item that allows you to upgrade spells with powerful new passive effects.  Upon unlocking both upgrades on particular spell a mastery challenge will unlock as well allowing a third upgrade if you are skilled enough to complete the challenge.

After completing the relatively short main experience, the game does encourage some replay value through a couple of different means.  First is by simply replaying stages and making use of special cards which add difficulty changing affixes to stages in order to boost your score and climb the leaderboard.  Secondly they offer a Arena mode for those looking for some extra spell-based combat challenge.

What Did I Think?

Gameplay

What’s Good:

  • Easy to learn gesture based spells that aren’t too complicated to remember.
  • Great use of destructible environments and physics effects.
  • Interactive elements to the most simple of tasks such as upgrade elements and choosing stages.
  • Solid implementation of VR in-game cutscenes.  Actual immersive VR scenes rather than a 2D video viewed in VR.
  • Special cards can tweak the difficulty of stages in various ways while at the same time making them reward more points.  More of these can be unlocked by finding hidden chests in levels.
  • Speaking of hidden chests… inclusion of hidden objects and areas to find adds an extra layer of replay value for stages.
  • Some simple but meaningful character progression elements allowing you to upgrade spells and then even master them for an increased bonus.  Mastering requires completing a defined challenge using that spell.

What’s Bad:

  • While I enjoyed the inclusion of some character progression with the spells, I wish there was a bit more depth to define your character.  Perhaps through a loot system with rare drops to encourage further replay.
  • If you aren’t interested in replaying stages or spending time with arena mode the game may seem a bit lacking in content.

Controls

What’s Good:

  • Both smooth walking locomotion and teleport movement options available simultaneously.

What’s Bad:

  • I was having issues getting certain spells to register sometimes which would become frustrating in the heat of the moment.  I would have no problem re-casting it over and over at one point, and then for some reason later it should wouldn’t work.

Graphics/Performance

What’s Good:

  • Great looking environment destruction and physics effects.

What’s Bad:

  • My PC which is VR ready did get some jitteryness at times during intense moments with a lot going on.

Neutral Thoughts:

  • Visually the game looks okay, it has moments where it shines more that others such as cinematic views of dragons or airships flying overhead.  The magic of VR helps this a lot of course.

Sound/Writing

What’s Good:

  • Serviceable sound effects and music throughout the game.
  • Enjoyed the narrator performance.

Neutral Thoughts:

  • Story isn’t a strong point given its stage-based nature, but it still does a fine job setting stages up with the VR cutscenes.

Verdict: Recommended
Numerical Score: 8.0

The Wizards is a solid VR experience that really does make the player feel like a powerful wizard with the different gesture-based spells.  The powerful aspect is mostly channeled through the destructible objects and environments, such as blasting away stone walls piece by piece with fireballs.  Those hoping for some epic massive open world wizard RPG won’t find that here though as this does focus more on being a session-based VR game which is cut up in chunks via its stage system.  That isn’t to say you won’t be able to squeeze a lot of extra hours out of the game though as it does encourage replaying stages to find secrets and get higher scores and also includes the ever replayable Arena mode.  Overall the game doesn’t quite reach the must-have tier for VR experiences, but it still hits a level of enough quality where the game will resonate with many.