The Wizards (PC) Review

By Chris Leebody 11.01.2019

Review for The Wizards on PC

Based in Poland, Carbon Studio is an interesting example of a modern tech company that specializes in VR software. Behind Alice VR, the team also boasts several non-gaming related VR based projects, including training simulators for Doctors Without Borders, and a commission by the Museum of Technology and Industry in Warsaw to create 360-degree photos of objects for online exhibit. Their latest gaming project, The Wizards, however, takes some inspiration from the critically acclaimed The Unspoken, by using various wand gestures to summon magic spells. Unlike the latter, The Wizards is set in a fantasy world of dragons and orcs, and the combination of the combat style and setting means that it scratches a big itch for all those fans of living out a Lord of the Rings-style fantasy.

Dashing through a dungeon, unleashing spells as enemies jump out from caverns, arrows flying all around whilst on an epic quest to save the world. That's probably an embellished vision of what The Wizards manages to portray. However, there is a lot to enjoy within the three to four-hour adventure. From a narrative point of view, this is probably at its weakest. The protagonist is an unnamed wizard thrown from a quick tutorial of how to unleash the various spells; straight into the wizard sanctum, a tower high in the mountains.

The basis for the adventure is that an omnipotent narrator explains that after the world was taken over by orcs, he created a way to send people back in time to save the land - thus presenting the basis for an adventure across Meliora. Despite what looks like a vast and detailed map presenting the various levels, there are really only two sectors to choose from: the ruined village of Pinewood, Healand Mines, and the desert palace of Shrike's Lookout. Each further separated into a couple of stages including boss segments.

Screenshot for The Wizards on PC

It's a very light touch in terms of exposition, and story-wise it's nothing that hasn't been done before. Then again, VR isn't really at the point where an expansive narrative really makes a huge difference to how fun the game itself is. Certainly The Wizards is a fun title. As mentioned, combat takes the approach of using the wand gestures to summon everything; from fireballs using a snap of the wrist to, conjuring a bow and arrow made of ice using a wide stance. It is massively entertaining and satisfying to watch this in action, and it really does a great job of making the user feel like a powerful wizard or action-hero. It is super intuitive as well and clearly a lot of work has gone into making sure that it functions smoothly and without too much frustration.

It isn't 100% perfect all the time, and this is mainly due to how manic things can get at certain points. For example, in the final stage of Pinewood there is a set-piece moment in which enemies are spawning constantly while the player is tasked with destroying a large crystal structure that is powering the evil.
Trying to cast spells whilst teleporting constantly across the map and dodging enemies proves to be a challenge, both to how the controls keep up with the action and how the reflexes do as well. These challenges are few and far between though. Speaking of teleportation, movement is thankfully a combination of both free-movement and teleporting. It means that the control scheme caters both for those who maybe have a little less room and those who are subject to the potential for more nausea. Although that shouldn't be much of an issue here.

Screenshot for The Wizards on PC

Being critical, it is possible that some may be a little disappointed with how short the adventure is. As mentioned previously, with a running time of around four hours to complete the main quest, this isn't exactly a long experience. In addition, difficulty levels prove to be a challenge the developers have not managed to perfect. Most enemies die within one shot, and spells such as the lightning are very easy just to use and spray across the map devastating all in sight. There are of course several boss battles scattered throughout, and these do provide some additional challenges such as having to block and deflect objects. Even the puzzle solving during the adventure is very basic though, with it usually boiling down to destroying certain objects to advance.

To be fair to Carbon Studio, it has made some attempts to try and increase the incentive for replayability. This includes upgrades for some of the spells such as more explosive fireballs or lightning that chain to other foes. The developer has also included 'fate-cards' which can be collected and then used to play levels again, giving enemies higher damage, more health, etc. Finally, there's an arena, which certainly does a good job in providing some extra reason to keep playing.

Screenshot for The Wizards on PC

The Wizards is a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to the graphics design. In some ways the game looks stunning with some large landscapes that could be taken straight out of a fantasy artwork. Some of the textures when rocks break apart are very detailed. The sanctum environment itself is perched on a high tower and it is wonderful to look over the snow-capped mountains. There are also lots of little details like the plants and pools of water that all add to the overall aesthetic. However, this is set in the context of some larger areas which are very similar in design. A lot of grey-brown in the colour palette leaves many of the stages looking quite like each other. Even the desert areas tend to get meshed together with the dungeon simply because of the colour scheme being quite bland.

Thankfully the monster and boss design is very well done, and, alongside the colourful spells that crackle from the hands of the wizard, this improves the blander areas when the action starts kicking into high gear. Special mention should be given to the narrator during the adventure. There generally isn't much in the way of interaction between the world and the player. However, his dry, at times sarcastic and humorous tone and script, keeps a pleasant sense of narration ticking over during the adventure. Jason Marnocha deserves praise for this aspect.

Screenshot for The Wizards on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

The Wizards is generally a good VR action-adventure title. Using some imaginative and intuitive controls to cast spells, it does an excellent job of making the player feel like they are indeed controlling a powerful wizard. The narrator is brilliant, and there are some really special effects and sights to see. However, things are let down slightly by the overall length of the game, which can be polished off in just a few hours. Additionally, many of the landscapes and levels have the habit of merging together due to how similar in style they look to one another, with only small bits of variety. It isn't the cheapest adventure on the market, but certainly one to pick up if a fan of this genre.

Developer

Carbon Studio

Publisher

Carbon Studio

Genre

Action Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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