I Put On My Robe And Wizard Hat.
HIGH Intuitive gesture-based combat.
LOW Very little in way of story.
WTF I found a wooden assault rifle.
In The Wizards, I was a neophyte sorcerer with the voice of a disembodied expert stuck in my head. With his guidance, I needed to rescue his body from an evildoer bent on overrunning the world with orcs and goblins and other typically-evil fantasy creatures. I’m thin on the details here because The Wizards is thin on story. The story isn’t a significant part of the experience, and although the writing is humorous at times, it’s nothing memorable. No, the gameplay is the meat of The Wizards.
The Wizards is essentially a first-person shooter in VR, but instead of shooting guns, I was casting spells with my hands via hand-tracked motion controllers. Making a fist and flipping my hand over resulted in a fireball that could be thrown like a baseball. Quickly crossing my arm across my body, like a vampire hiding behind his cape, would bring up a defensive shield. Crossing my arms quickly in front of me would create an ice bow and arrow that could quickly pick off enemies from afar. These and other gestures are important to learn and master, because the gameplay loop is simple — enter an area, trigger a switch, and fight a horde of enemies. Wash, rinse, repeat.
There’s nothing wrong with this simple gameplay loop, however. The gesture-based combat feels fresh and immersive. Wizards also throws a large number of enemies at the player along with a couple of large boss fights for good measure. I felt motivated to hone my skills even if the combat, at times, lacks a visceral impact.
The downside to this frantic pace, though, is that it highlights a weakness of PSVR’s current control schemes. With a lack of a dedicated analog stick, The Wizards required me to point the move controller at a teleportation point, or to point and tilt the control in the direction I wanted to walk. The result is that it becomes difficult to move while conjuring a spell. Wizards is also terribly inconsistent at detecting my throws, making it borderline-useless in fast-paced scenarios.
Inconsistent detection is always a problem with both VR and gesture-based gameplay, so it’s not surprising that The Wizards also fell victim to it. However, it should be noted that it had a relatively impressive success rate at detecting my varied conjurations, and typically only failed as a result of erratic hand movements in the heat of combat. I’m sure a real-life sorcerer would encounter similar issues.
Aside from the inventive, mostly consistent combat, The Wizards provides decent variety in level design and technically impressive visuals. While most areas are relatively short, a few offer a lengthy, winding path that would be interesting to explore if only it didn’t eliminate my ability to backtrack.
Several times I’d find myself at a fork in the road, choosing to poke my head down one path before checking out the other option. Unfortunately, The Wizards made a habit of closing doors behind me for no reason, making it impossible to explore alternate paths without restarting the level. In a similar instance, this habit of pushing the player forward seemed to break a puzzle in the game, causing a door to not properly trigger with the solution.
With above-average level design and usually enjoyable combat, The Wizards is an entertaining, but short-lived experience held back by technical inconsistencies. The immersion of the combat butts heads with the sometimes-cumbersome controls, but these issues didn’t detract much from the times I felt like a badass wizard showering hordes of enemies with lightning bolts and fire bombs.
— Alexander Pegram
Disclosures: This game is developed and published by Carbon Studio. It is currently available on PSVR and PCVR.This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PSVR with PS4 Pro.Approximately 7 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated E10+ and contains Fantasy Violence. The enemies are all relatively cartoonish in nature, but a couple are a bit ghostly and spooky. No gore or blood.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: Music changes when enemies appear can alert players to enemy presence, but magical barriers on doors often act as the first sign of a combat situation. There may be some issues here.
Remappable Controls: The controls are not remappable, but there are options for smooth locomotion, snap turning, and teleportation, as well as comfort options for vignetting. The game requires Move controllers.