THE WIZARDS ENHANCED EDITION Review: Great VR Gameplay Knocked Down By Flaky Controls

Review copy provided by Carbon Studio and Perp Games.

Review copy provided by Carbon Studio and Perp Games.

Another former digital-only PSVR title has received the “physical treatment” in the form of Carbon Studio’s The Wizards Enhanced Edition (affiliate link). Published by Perp Games, this edition of The Wizards Enhanced Edition brings all the same content found in the digital-only release to lovers of physical media. So if you have yet to dive into this VR wizarding fantasy adventure, get ready; it is quite an adventure!

What’s In The Box

Seeing as this is a new physical release, it is only right to take a quick look at the box! It is a standard PS4 blue case with the PlayStation VR badge and requirements. The cover art features a nice hand-drawn look with, who I am assuming is the player's character, taking a prominent position and using one of the game's spells. Just above and behind the player character we can see an older man, with an awesome beard I might add, represented in a white color to accent the yellow of the player. This image is a very cool representation of the relationship between these two characters that I will discuss further momentarily. On the right side of the case, we have the game's title and below this, some runes. Along the bottom of the art we can see flames beginning to engulf the player character. Two accolades are also on display. I am seriously blown away by how much of the game's narrative is able to be portrayed in such a simple image. This might be one of my favorite covers of all time!

Moving to the back of the case we can see another line of accolades for The Wizards Enhanced Edition. Next is a brief description of the game's premise of transforming you into a powerful wizard using the PlayStation Move Controllers. A trio of screenshots showing some of the game's spells and enemies follows, with further details on the games use of gesture controls just beneath. There is one last banner that outlines some of the bonus content found in the digital deluxe version of the game, which I assume is the version they put on the disk, that includes downloadable posters, wallpapers, and 3D printable models. Everything else below this point is the standard PS4 case fare. Opening the case we can see the Blu Ray disk and instructions for how to redeem our digital goodies on a PC.

Story

Journey to the Realm of Meliora, a land that parallels our own. In this realm, you are to learn how to become a master spell caster from the great wizard Aurelius. Aurelius no longer has a physical form and has instead become a being that resides in time and space. Through heeding his words you will explore the land and learn more about magic through your adventures. You might even get to slay an orc or two or a thousand!

Gameplay

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The Wizards Enhanced Edition is an updated version to the 2018 release of The Wizards on PC. This updated version of the game includes an additional level and added cutscenes to the original. Since I never played the original version, it is all new content to me! The game features two main modes of play: campaign and arena. Both of these modes are exactly what they sound like. The campaign takes you on a story featuring three regions to explore with multiple levels in each. Each level offers a satisfying amount of wandering around and combat. There are even some puzzles to solve, thrown in for good measure. To truly test your mettle, there are also a number of boss fights in the game! 

As you progress, Aurelius is a constant voice in your head, giving advice and narrating things going on in the world around you. I found this ghostly tutor a fun storytelling mechanic and a cool relationship for the two characters! Campaign in total lasted me about 7 hours to play through, which is a great length for a VR game to me. After the campaign is done, don’t think your time with The Wizards Enhanced Edition is over, however, as you can always replay levels to finish finding any lingering secrets or improve your score to get a higher leaderboard placement. Or, to really give yourself a challenge, you can use the games Fate Cards system to increase the game difficulty. There is also that arena mode I mentioned earlier, which pits you against waves of enemies to see how long you can live!

Movement is handled in a similar fashion to Sairento VR, where the Left Move Controllers Move button will let you walk, or sprint if double-tapped, in the direction you are facing. I changed a setting in the options menu to allow me to move where I was looking as I found the straight movement a bit limiting. The other method of movement is teleportation. Holding down the Move button on your right hand’s Move Controller will produce a movement arc for where you can go. You are limited to flat surfaces only, so you won’t accidentally end up a mountain or anything. You will often find teleportation platforms that will help you navigate certain “platforming” segments to better get you around the environment. I found myself using the standard walking regularly so I could take in the world around me.

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Being that this is a game about becoming a master wizard, you are only as good as your spells. When you first start out your journey, you have access to three basic spells: Fireball, Arcane Shield, and Frost Bow. As you progress through the campaign, more will be unlocked with one new spell per level. These new spells are Lightning, Arcane Missiles, and Pyroblast. In one later area of the game there is also a special spell that will be available in certain contexts. Each spell is activated by performing certain gestures while holding the triggers of the Move Controller in the hands needed for the spell. Fireball and Arcane Shield only require a single hand to use, while the remaining spells all require both. Out of all the spells my favorites were Arcane Missiles and Lightning. UNLIMITED POWER!

Using spells in combat is quite fun but some worked better for me than others. As I just mentioned, I loved using Arcane Missiles and Lightning as both were able to dispatch foes with ease. As you progress in the game you will start to rely heavily on your Arcane Shield to deflect hits, which means you are limited to only Fireball for attack. This is fine in most instances, but there are times I just couldn’t get the Fireball to spawn and other times it wouldn’t go where I was aiming, making it hard to finish more populated areas with a decent amount of health. I also ran into numerous tracking issues with the PSVR when trying to use the Frost Bow, making me mostly avoid the weapon entirely. The situations I found myself using Pyroblast for were also pretty small.

Each spell is upgradable to unlock additional perks, such as Lightning jumping from the target you are hitting to additional enemies nearby. Or powered up Arcane Missiles that deal extra damage. To unlock them you will need to spend a token. To earn tokens you need to earn a certain number of points or find hidden collectibles throughout a level. Getting a ton of points is also good to increase your leaderboard standings. If you would like to further practice pulling off your spells, there is a handy training area provided.

One last note on combat is to always stay mobile. Once you start getting surrounded by enemies things can go downhill fast. You are outfitted mostly for longer range combat so be sure to use that to your advantage. One interesting thing I noticed was using teleport too frequently in combat would reduce the effective range, making it nearly useless for escape. A really cool touch, if you ask me, and one that ensures the game doesn’t get too easy. So make sure to have that sprint button ready to go just in case! If you do end up needing healing, after certain combat sections you can come across a glowing hourglass and by destroying it you can gain back health. If your health happens to be full, you will gain additional points from its destruction.

Visuals

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The Wizards Enhanced Edition is a good looking game even on my base PS4 console. Models and terrain are well made and even texturing, despite being lower resolution than a standard PS4 game, looks great. I was also happy to see that there wasn’t a ton of aliasing present, resulting in a clearer presentation than I expected. I also love that there was enough attention to detail given to allow for certain objects to be destroyed, like statues, crates and bushes!

Audio

The visuals are accompanied by great voice work from the character Aurelius. Combat is also accented with good sound effects for spells and enemy grunts and cries. There is also a good soundtrack playing in the background to tie everything together!

What It Could Have Done Better

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Even though I have greatly enjoyed my time with The Wizards Enhanced Edition, I found it annoying how certain things wouldn’t register correctly. Fireballs would refuse to spawn and at times wouldn’t go anywhere close to where I felt I was placing them. There was also the issues with the Frost Bow, where using it would cause the PSVR to lose tracking on my drawing hand, making it very hard to use the thing. In this instance, I feel like it is more a limitation of the PSVR than a problem with the game though. I also feel like even though I set my height correctly in the game, things were way shorter than me, making me have to reach way lower than I feel was intended.

Verdict

As a whole, The Wizards Enhanced Edition is one of the better VR games available today. There is a long campaign with multiple levels and environments and an optional arena mode to keep the fun going for much longer. Leaderboards, I’m sure, will also incentivise a number of score hunters looking to claim the top spots. Sadly, the experience isn’t as good as it could have been thanks to some problems in the controls and PSVR tracking. Though, it isn’t enough to make me not recommend the game to any PSVR owners out there. If you are interested in trying The Wizards Enhanced Edition (affiliate link) out for yourself, it is available now!

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