Review – The Wizards: Enhanced Edition
The greatest draw of virtual reality is the possibility of immersing us daydreaming nerds into the most varied scenarios that our frail minds can imagine. Being able to become a powerful spellcaster in a medieval VR realm full of orcs and dragons isn’t exactly a new idea though. Skyrim did that two years ago and The Mage’s Tale did that not even a month ago. So what does The Wizards: Enhanced Edition have to offer in order to convince players to give it a go? Not a lot, to be fair…
The Wizards might be drowning in medieval fantasy aesthetics, but this isn’t an RPG. Just like the vast majority of the PSVR’s library, this game is a shooter. It differs itself from other games by not being just a shooting gallery, as it does feature a surprisingly comfortable movement mechanic tied to the otherwise cumbersome Move controllers. But at the end of the day, it’s just another run-of-the-mill shooter for the system: go from point A to point B shooting at all orcs that come near you. There are even some actual shooting gallery segments in it, but the developers were kind enough to make them fully optional.
The way you shoot at enemies is what differs The Wizards from the rest. You cast spells by performing some simple but cool-looking hand gestures with the Move controllers. Those attacks range from a simple fireball and a shield to more elaborate summons such as a Palpatine-esque lightning shower and my personal favorite, summoning an ice bow from thin air. You can also freely teleport around the stage if you don’t want to risk feeling nauseous with the game’s more fluid walking animations.
Even though the idea of going full Doctor Strange and summoning spells with hand gestures sounds cool on paper, it fails when put into practice. Simply put, The Wizards‘ controls are frustrating. Upon summoning a fireball or your bow, the sole act of aiming at something and shooting at it is easier said than done. It feels like your wizard suffers from some kind of motor disease as your hands start shaking like crazy from out of nowhere at any given time. Even though the game provides you with a little crosshair whenever you’re performing a spell, it is usually useless, especially when you’re planning to throw a fireball at someone. It will usually go to the opposite side of where you’re aiming.
If you think that aiming at something and shooting at it in The Wizards is bad, you still haven’t seen the most frustrating part of the game: grabbing objects. The toughest segment in The Wizards wasn’t a boss battle, nor even a section full of enemies. The hardest segment in the game, without a doubt, was trying to grab objects and place them on specific slots on the hub world. This game’s motion tracking is far too inferior, the long-distance grabbing mechanics (think of it as using the Force) almost never work, and the sole act of crouching a couple of inches makes the game forget that you’re onscreen. More than once I had to go into the options menu and tell the game I was four feet tall (I’m six feet) just so I could grab an object on a table in order to unlock a new level.
When it comes to its technical department, The Wizards doesn’t shine either. While the overall environments look really nice, the same can’t be said about the enemies that inhabit them. They all look they were originally planned for a PS3, while their 30fps animations look like they came straight out of a PS2 game instead.
The sound department is equally disappointing, as there is little sound in the game per se. There is no noticeable soundtrack to speak of, just a few musical snippets every once in a blue moon. All that’s left is a handful of orcs shouting at you, some heavily compressed sound effects, and a fourth wall-breaking narrator who is clearly a huge Monty Python fan who doesn’t ever shut up. Riveting.
The one cool gameplay aspect in The Wizards isn’t enough for me to recommend this game to anyone besides die-hard medieval fantasy fans who have already played Skyrim VR and The Mage’s Tale and are still craving for more of the same. There are good ideas in here, without question, but its infuriating control issues, terrible motion tracking, and short duration are just unforgivable. I’d be down for a game featuring more of those sweet archery mechanics, though…
The environments are truly gorgeous, but the characters look like they came straight out of a PS3 game. That being said, their animations look like they were made in the PS2 era.
Walking around is surprisingly easy and comfortable. Summoning your ice bow feels great. Everything else is incredibly imprecise.
The Wizards doesn’t feature a soundtrack. Its sound department is solely comprised of simple sound effects and a very annoying narrator who thinks he’s funnier than he really is.
Fun Factor: 5.5
Even though summoning the bow is one of the coolest VR experiences so far, I can’t forgive The Wizards for having such poor controls and an overall short length.
Final Verdict: 6.0
The Wizards: Enhanced Edition is available now on PSVR.
Reviewed on PSVR.
A copy of The Wizards: Enhanced Edition was provided by the publisher.