The Wizards — Enhanced Edition is an action adventure spellcasting game where you play as a wizard and must defeat the forces of evil using the power of magic.
The Wizards is certainly not the first VR game to allow you to sling spells to defeat bad guys, but it is one of only a few single-player experiences to utilize magic as your only weapon. Offering both a full single-player story experience and an Arena mode, there is plenty to do in The Wizards, but it’s the spell system that makes it stand out from most.
Spell-casting in The Wizards is done by physically manipulating your controllers to follow different gestures. For example, if you hold your hands facing down and rotate your right hand so that its facing upwards, you will summon a fireball — one that you can then launch at the enemies or props such as torches that litter the walls in this magical realm. There are a decent number of spells, but ultimately, they all lend a spark of magic to what is otherwise a bland repetitive gameplay loop.
Exploring the magical world provided to you in these otherworldly realms is a fun experience, as each environment is interesting and rife with larger-than-life pillars and structures. There are plenty of temples and dungeons for you to visit, but each location is not without its dangers. Ghouls and goblins lurk the halls of the ruins, offering the primary challenge to apprentice wizards, but I found that there are only a handful of enemy types. Most enemies are variations of the others, such as a larger mini-boss orc that can take more hits. Stopping their murderous onslaught is a matter of utilizing your spell of choice — your endless supply of fireballs can offer a rapid-fire means to take them down, but the slower magical ice bow offers more precision — to defeat them, which then unlocks the next area.
If you find yourself in a bind, you can summon a shield for your hand to block enemy fire, which is something you’re going to be doing a lot, as their magic tends to home in on you after they throw it. It adds a bit of variance to combat, but the process of fighting and then simply moving to the next area feels a bit more like a chore — regardless of whether you are blasting them with streams of lightning or chucking fireballs like you’re in a magical snowball fight — and it’s unfortunate, because I feel that better enemy placement with more variation could have added a lot to this otherwise cyclical process. Bosses help shake up the gameplay as they tower over you and require strategic magic-use to defeat, but after taking down the behemoths, it’s back to the grind.
There are some secondary objectives such as finding a new angle to destroy debris in your way with a fireball or dodging heated floor plates by teleporting back and forth as a door lowers, but more times than not you’re going to explore till you find a wave of combat, defeat them and then move on till the next round of enemies bear down on you. I feel like this process would certainly appeal to someone unfamiliar with the very popular genre of wave-shooters than seem to saturate the VR market these days, but for the most part, that’s basically how it plays — but with magic.
Fate cards, which can be found hidden around the world, can add additional modifiers to your replay of levels and adds a significant challenge to your spell-casting adventures. You can find hidden crystal shards, which can then be used to expand your magical powers by spending them in the hub world to upgrade your spells. Each level in the game provides you the opportunity to earn four shards: three that are hidden and one earned from a three-star score on the level itself. You are not required to find each one to fully upgrade your spells, which is a nice gesture since there’s a lot of nooks and crannies to explore.
The graphics in The Wizards on the Oculus Quest are not great. I completely understand what lengths they had to go to to get it to run on the platform at all, but I often feel like I am playing a game on an inferior virtual reality headset, like the Google Daydream or Gear VR. Every environmental texture seems muddy and like something you’re waiting for to render in, but it never does. Enemy animations also appear to be affected by the port and come off looking very basic. What is nice is that the game was originally on the desktop VR platforms and actually runs on the Oculus Quest with the ability to provide a solid frame rate throughout. I personally wish they could have squeezed a bit more fidelity out of the game, but I also understand why that’s such a tall task.
The Wizards — Enhanced Edition is a great diversion if you’re looking for a spell-casting romp that has an excellent magic system and great environments to cast them in. It has some problems when it comes to some graphical fidelity, but it’s hard to complain when the Oculus Quest is already such a magical piece of hardware. I feel like there is a lot in The Wizards — Enhanced Edition to appeal to aspiring wizards, and the single-player story is a strong enough experience to dazzle and delight with its excellent narration, sound effects and music.