Review: The Wizards
More fun than you can throw a fireball at.
There are some great magic-based virtual reality (VR) titles available for those who enjoy a bit of sorcery. From combat experiences like The Unspoken and Wands, to massive quests such as The Mage’s Tale or Left-hand Path. So for players to take notice of another videogame in the field it needs to look and play the part, and Carbon Studio has done just that with The Wizards.
Having initially arrived on Steam Early Access in the summer of 2017, The Wizards was your average stationary wave shooter, with set points of movement and waves of monsters to defeat. Thankfully in that time Carbon Studio has given the title an overhaul in places, turning it into a far more dynamic and enjoyable adventure experience.
You just so happen to play a wizard who’s the only one capable of stopping an invading army of orcs, ogres, goblins and other nasty beasties from taking over, killing everyone and razing your beautiful land to the ground. To stop the menace you get to learn a bunch of spells and go on a cleansing spree.
Beautiful to look at, The Wizards biggest draw is its spell casting gameplay. Rather than switching between spells in a menu the videogame employs gesture-based spell-casting in a similar way to The Unspoken, where you need to remember particular hand movements to be able to do anything. This mechanic works extremely well for magic-based experiences, grounding you in the world and the character, which Carbon Studio easily pulled off.
Weaker spells like the standard fireball or the shield use a quick and simple one-handed gesture. As you’d expect the more powerful spells such as the Ice Bow or Arcane Missiles require both hands to conjure, meaning careful use is required in battle. None of them are too convoluted however, so that you don’t waste valuable seconds waving those arms around to no avail.
What’s great to see in this fully released version is the freedom of movement. As previously mentioned The Wizards originally used a point to point teleportation system, so if monsters got too close certain areas would trap you, plus it greatly lessened the strategy element. That’s been dispensed with, sort of. Teleportation is still there and certain areas can only be traversed using it, however, there’s also full smooth locomotion for the wide open areas where a lot of the combat encounters take place. For one-handed spells this is great as it allows strafing whilst shooting off a few fireballs. Two-handed spells generally need a safe spot before moving on. Most of the time a liberal use of both methods is advised, teleportation is definitely nice and nippy for quickly moving about.
One slight disappointment comes from the restricted monster engagements. You wander into an area and all the entrances and exits lock down until all the enemies are defeated, adding that wave-based feel back into proceedings where the only challenge is surviving the set number of monsters. It does partially ruin the flow of the adventure – why can’t there just be enemies you encounter on the journey – but wielding those arcane powers is still mighty fun.
Carbon Studio has also ensured there’s some longevity and a keen eye needed to get the most out of the whole experience. There are collectibles to find that’ll upgrade your spells, Fate Cards to locate which will modify the gameplay settings in future play throughs, plus an Arena mode for those interested in continual battles.
What Carbon Studio has done is combine its knowledge from debut VR title Alice VR and the months of Early Access development and distilled it into The Wizards. If you want to feel like an all-powerful sorcerer then The Wizards is up there with the best, an entertaining adventure that will make non-VR players jealous.