If there’s one thing massive franchises like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, World or Warcraft et al prove, it’s that people love a bit of magical wizardry in their lives, with videogames (especially virtual reality (VR)) able to provide that hands-on sorcery goodness. One of the reasons VR excels comes down to motion controls, with developers creating gesture based spells rather than some inventory selection. Titles such as The Wizards have begun utilising this immersive method, so has recently released Steam Early Access videogame Mage Guard: The Last Grimoire.
Developed by Hashbang Games, Mage Guard: The Last Grimoire sees you take on the role of a Guild Mage tasked with guarding the Guild’s most powerful relic, The Grimoire. Whilst Mage’s are supposed to be good, a rogue faction within the Guild breaks away and begins running amok, capturing or burning villages among many other evil deeds. Naturally they want The Grimoire and it’s up to you to stop them.
In its early access form Mage Guard: The Last Grimoire features an introduction and three levels to play through, with each area teaching you new spells to defeat waves of magical enemies. So yes first and foremost this is a wave shooter, no movement is required other than dodging enemy projectiles whilst you fire off some of your own.
There are two spell classes to master, Fire and Ice, with latter enemies being more susceptible to one or the other. To wield your magical powers the left hand controls which class of magic you use, with a particular gesture for each one. While the right hand fires off the spells. These actions are kept fairly simple so that they’re easy to remember and quick to activate. Memory plays an important role in Mage Guard: The Last Grimoire as there’s no HUD to speak of, aiding that sense of immersion that’s it’s just you and your magical abilities against these monstrous creatures.
So for example, make an upside down ‘U’ shape and that’ll fire a basic fireball or ice projectile. Forming a circle will then make that same projectile even more powerful. Whilst you do need to remember what gesture does what they have been kept the same across classes making it that little bit easier. Additionally, shots are completely aimed by gaze, with a central reticule able to highlight enemies – which also shows how many shots they take – so that you’re always on target.
Mage Guard: The Last Grimoire’s gameplay mechanics work really well, enabling quick tactical changes on the fly. The one major downside to it all are the enemies. Currently they fall into the usual charge and attack routine, running their set paths towards you. So as long as you’re quick and accurate the challenge isn’t all that great until a fair few spawn at the same time.
Hashbang Games has got the beginnings of an interesting experience with Mage Guard: The Last Grimoire. The core mechanics are there and work well – plus it all looks suitably dark and medieval. What it now needs is some variety, not necessarily enemy’s per-se, more in the way of giving players combat options, different points to attack from for example. Wave shooters can still offer exciting gameplay experiences, so long as they can offer something new.