The Wizards – Dark Times
Developer: Carbon Studio
Publisher: Carbon Studio
Genre: Action, Adventure, Magic
Platform: PC (Steam)
Age Rating: PEGI 12
Release Date: 04.06.2020
A code was provided for review purposes.
The Wizards – Dark Times from Carbon Studio is the sequel to the 2018 game. With the power of VR, is the game spellbinding or does it lose out in some of the magic? Find out in this Rapid Review.
Spell It Out
Dark Times was my first foray into the Wizards series. Although I was unfamiliar with the story going into The Wizards – Dark Times, the visuals and gesture-based spell system looked highly appealing. With a game that focuses so highly on magic, the spells themselves seem the best place to start this review.
Eleven spells are unlocked over the course of the game ranging from projectile fireballs to a bow made out of ice. By holding the varying triggers and moving the controllers in specific directions, the spells magically appear in the game world. It’s hard to create eleven spells with gestures that don’t overlap in some way so there were often times in Wizards when I’d try to create a shield for example and instead saw my hands coming alight. Nevertheless, when these gestures worked well; it was truly magical.
Moving my hands towards my shoulders to create wolverine-like crystal claws or pulling back and pushing forwards to create a powerful blast of air were both incredible virtual reality experiences. I played on the standard difficulty and there was a genuine challenge in the first two-thirds of the game. Later in the game, a few new spells are unlocked and without spoiling what these entail; they seemed overwhelmingly powerful. This caused the final boss fight to feel significantly easier than some of the missions I had encountered in earlier parts of the game.
Across the journey which took me around four hours to complete, I encountered a variety of enemies. From close-range exploding fungi-like creatures to archers who fire from the distance, I liked the different ‘standard’ enemies. Blasting these enemies with the wealth of magic at my disposal was a … blast and I loved watching their ragdoll bodies go flying into the air, fully showcasing the sheer power that originated from my hands.
In addition to the typical fantasy enemies are also elemental acolytes. These are flying figures who infrequently appear acting as minibosses. These enemies must be destroyed by using magic which is the opposite of their element. Fighting these minibosses was a lot of fun and really tested my skills. The Wizards – Dark Times utilises open locomotion so the touch controller’s joystick and head-facing position decide where I travelled to. Combining this with ducking and dodging meant that I could avoid the acolytes powerful attacks before countering them with my own bouts of magic. This open locomotion means that Dark Times could be a real problem for those prone to motion sickness or new to VR. As for me, I don’t suffer from motion sickness so I felt fine.
Sorcery Sights and Sounds
From a graphical and level design standpoint, Dark Times is fantastic. From boggy swamps to tiny cave tunnels, I loved exploring this world of wizardry. In addition to these natural, environmental areas there are also gargantuan man-made structures. It was truly impressive walking into large halls constructed of massive slabs of stone. In one area at the end of the game, I was so impressed by the sheer scale of the locations that I was left looking up and down towards the void below and the roof hundreds of metres above me.
There are also several climbing sections to the game, with yellow grips in walls showing where to climb. These sections can be skipped if you’d prefer not to be dangling from high above but I enjoyed these moments. Graphically, the game has some gorgeous effects. Holding a flaming fireball, I saw it light up the dark caves around me. The sun shone brightly into villages, its rays illuminating through the trees. With an orchestral arrangement to the music and these incredible locations and graphics, my time spent in Dark Times felt like a grand adventure through and through.
A Sorcery Story
You may well have noted that I haven’t spoken about the story. Perhaps this is due to me not playing the first game but I did struggle to understand the story’s characters. In my eyes, blasting enemies into oblivion in order to find (and hopefully) defeat the final big bad guy was enough of a story but if you want to understand more of this magical tale, perhaps play the first game beforehand.
A Light or Dark Time?
Overall, The Wizards – Dark Times delivers a short but wholly rewarding experience. With a gorgeous design and intuitive gesture-based spells, the developers have created magic with this game.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase The Wizards – Dark Times for £19.49 on the Steam Store
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.
You can read our VR game reviews over at vrgamecritic.