The benefit of virtual reality is being able to give games newer, more innovative means of input. A standard controller can only be used in so many ways, but the flexibility of hand movements give VR games a blank slate to start designing on. Wizards: Enhanced Edition uses this freedom to let you conjure up spells with simple to complex waves of your hands, making you feel like you’re summoning a fireball or shooting ice arrows like a real warlock. The problem is that its hamstrung by PlayStation VR’s documented tracking issues, while also not offering enough variety to keep the splendor of its opening riding through.

Wizards dresses its fantasy world with cliché and vague high fantasy jargon, never really giving you reasons to get invested in its fictional world and the seemingly dire stakes of the mission at hand. You’re given instructions on both how to progress and grow as a warlock from a disembodied voice in your head, projected from a more powerful wizard with seemingly endless knowledge of the world around you. It’s a simple setup that lets you get right into the action quickly though, with a handful of spells unlocked from the get-go and the rest rewarded to you shortly afterwards.

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Conjuring spells is the best part of Wizards. Using the move controllers (and either in a standing or sitting position, which is appreciated) you draw a variety of shapes in the air to summon anything from fireballs to a ring of arcane missiles ready to seek out their targets. The movements start off simple. A flick of your wrist summons a fireball in your palm which you can hurl towards a target that you aim at by simply looking at them. A swift wave of your left hand can summon a shield in a way that reminded me of something from Doctor Strange and using the two in conjunction was both simple and satisfying.

Later spells, like projecting lighting from your fingertips all Emperor Palpatine style or expanding a super-nova between your hands, require more complicated movements that the Move Controllers struggle to keep up with. The inaccurate tracking would often trigger spells mistakenly, especially ones that featured similar overall movements and large rotations. The ice bow, for example, requires you to wave both your hands in front of you to summon before it can be used. It often got mistaken for the summoning of arcane missiles, leading to frantic hand waving to try and reinitiate the spellcasting in the heat of a chaotic battle.

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Most of your time will be spent moving from one skirmish to the next, with only some light puzzle solving sprinkled in over a few stages (hardly any of which is that engaging). Fights mostly take place against the same enemies with a handful of colour swaps. Smaller goblins will rush your quickly in large groups, medium sized ogres will keep up with your movements and pack a mean punch and large, brutish trolls will slowly stumble towards you and punish any mistake you make with large amounts of damage.

Dealing with these and a small variety of ranged foes rarely requires any deep thought or strategy. Although you have an exciting variety of spells, the predictable attack patterns and lack of challenge rarely requires you to think about how these abilities might benefit certain situations. Instead, it’s easy enough to repeatedly conjure a shield for protection and just lob fireballs ad nauseum until everything is dead. It helps that these two abilities are also the easiest to perform and less prone to tracking oddities, but it does make the action feel stale incredibly quickly.

Moving around this often small and chaotic skirmish areas is easy though, and Wizards at least understands how to make movement as comfortable as possible. You’re given the choice of either smooth or snapping rotation, the latter of which is generally the most comfortable and easiest on possible motion sickness. You’re also given two choices for direct movement that work in tandem with each other. The press of the Move button on one controller walks you forward naturally, while the same press on the other controller will let you teleport short distances. Using these two options together feels natural, letting you easily get around Wizards world with a surprisingly amount of precision.

That world is entertainingly tangible, with an assortment of wooden barrels, repetitive statues and flammable banners for you to test your spells on. Seeing a sculpture break and crumble dynamically as you chip away at it with attacks is satisfying for a few minutes, while blowing up barrels in between fights Is equally entertaining. It’s the only thing about The Wizard’s world that is engaging though. Although rendered with an impressive amount of detail for VR (especially with all the spell effects looking great too), the art direction feels stale and uninspired. There’s nothing about The Wizard’s world that stands out, making your movements through it rarely engrossing.

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Between its boring setting, barebone narrative drive and repetitive combat, there’s little in The Wizard’s that encourages you to stick with it with as long as it expects you to. Its campaign is lengthy during its three main chapters, and you’re encouraged by optional objectives and hidden collectables to replay them for higher scores. Each completed objective helps you progress towards more spell upgrades, which make small changes to your existing roster. They’re not enough to entice you to try out new combinations beyond the one that works, making it an ineffective way to encourage returning to past stages to do better. The Wizards presents promise in its opening stages, but it never capitalizes on this with inventive stages and surprising encounters throughout its campaign.

It’s disappointing more than frustrating because Wizards initially offers the promise of gameplay that wouldn’t feel as interactive on a standard controller. Being above to conjure spells with unique motions is surprisingly captivating, but the accuracy of the tracking, unfortunately, makes most of the more exciting spells a chore to reliably pull off. The lack of gameplay variety and the uninteresting world only compound these issues, giving you fewer reasons to stick with this clichéd and jargon-laden adventure beyond its initial opening surprises. Wizards might try to enchant you with its use of VR, but it’s a spell too easily broken.

Last Updated: March 12, 2019

The Wizards: Enhanced Edition
The Wizards: Enhanced Edition wrestles with the limitations of PSVR and never wins, deeply undercutting its enjoyable spellcasting with inaccurate motion tracking. These issues are only made worse by uninteresting missions and repetitive combat, making the initial splendour of this spellcasting adventure fade very quickly.
5.0
The Wizards: Enhanced Edition was reviewed on PlayStation 4
68 / 100

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