The Wizards, when it originally released on PC VR headsets like Rift and Vive almost a year ago exactly, delivered what few games had up to that point: a fully-fledged action-adventure set in a fantastical fantasy world build from the ground up for VR. This was a solid six or so hour game, plus a repeatable arena mode, that had a lot to offer. Now, with the Enhanced Edition version that launches today, you’re getting even more of that excellent formula plus improvements to the core game as a whole.
The Enhanced Edition’s improvements area also coming to the PC version of the game today as well, but this review is specifically of the PSVR edition. You can read our thoughts on the PC version, as well as skipping down to our thoughts on the new content here, to get a holistic idea of the enhancements.
The Wizards is split into two game modes: the single-player campaign and the Arena mode. For the campaign you play through a linear grouping of levels, one after another, as you progress through the game. While there is a good amount of level variety in terms of locations, the flow of gameplay isn’t very original.
Most levels devolve into the same exact rhythm: explore the area until you find enemies, kill all of the enemies, and advance to the next area that’s waiting to be explored. Every now and then there is a bit of variety in terms of secondary objectives to worry about, but that’s really pretty much the entire game for a few hours until you reach the end. Boss encounters shake things up enough to keep things interesting so it’s not entirely repetitive, but it’s not winning any awards for its story either — but the new cutscenes in the Enhanced Edition are nice.
There is some great voice work, good sound design, and entrancing music to keep your ears happy while your eyes take in the blasts of color that constantly assault you from all sides. Luckily the Enhanced Edition adds checkpoints throughout levels so you don’t have to replay them entirely if you die.
The biggest new feature Enhanced Edition adds is a whole new level that’s longer than any of the ones in the base game adding easily an hour our more of content, increasing its length by about 15-20%. That’s a pretty huge inclusion for what’s otherwise basically the same game. It’s probably the overall best level as well with a lot of impressive effects.
The best part of The Wizards though, just like any good sorcerer game, is the spell-casting. Instead of drawing annoyingly complex runes in the air or something it’s all simply gesture-based.
For example, to ready a fireball in my right hand I just hold my left hand steady, make a fist out in front of me with my right hand by holding the trigger, then sliding my right hand to the side quickly. Boom, fireball. Just throw and release like any other object to send it flying across the level. Slide my left hand to the right and a shield pops up on my wrist for blocking attacks. Move each hand towards my chest and an ice bow appears with a quiver of chilling white arrows on my back.
Movement options are varied, including your typical choices like teleportation and full locomotion. With PS Move full smooth movement feels similar to the likes of Skyrim VR or Borderlands 2 VR so it gets the job done but it’s far from precise or ideal. Since you’re often slinging spells with both hands, having to tilt one hand around while moving limits your options in combat a bit. Experienced PSVR Move controller users will feel relatively comfortable, but it’s a far cry from having an actual analog stick still and deserves mentioning.
And while the spell-casting is easily the best part, even that does start to grow old by the end of the journey. There just aren’t enough spells to really keep you engaged throughout. You’ll unlock enhancements over the course of the game and find collectible cards that can be used to alter missions for replaying, but there should have been more original, different spells to cast or at least added in the Enhanced Edition.
If I had to pick a favorite spell it’s absolutely the double-handed blast of lightning. You can really feel the power of magic coursing through your veins.
The Wizards’ Arena mode is a nice change of pace, but ultimately doesn’t shake up the formula anywhere near enough. There are three environments to pick from and the only way it really differs from the campaign, on a functional level, is that you exclusively fight waves of enemies instead of breaking up the fights with moments of exploration.
By the end I was left wanting more spells, more variety, and more game modes. For example, a multiplayer mode would have been amazing to see — either competitive or cooperative — or at least some other way to use the powerful magical spells I’d been given. The core mechanics and ideas at work were so fun, I wanted to see it live up to its full potential.
On the gamut of magic-based first-person action games, The Wizards: Enhanced Editions is definitely one of the better ones. Its spell-casting system is interactive without being too cumbersome and the campaign mode packs a solid amount of content. Plenty of collectibles, a replayable Arena mode, and lots of mission augmentations add up to this being a really fun journey. But some of the repetition, relatively short length, and recycled wave-shooter-style mission structures left us wanting a bit more creativity. I absolutely enjoyed my time with The Wizards, but with a few additions it could have been the definitive VR spell-casting game.
The Wizards: Enhanced Edition is available starting today on PSVR, Rift, and Vive across the PSN Store, Oculus Home, and Steam for $24.99. Read our Game Review Guidelines for more information on how we arrived at this score.
Editor’s Note: We fixed a typo regarding the price.