CharacterBank inc bring us the world of Ruins Magus, a JRPG consisting of magic amongst the ruins. We have established that it is a clever title, but the question remains, is it a good game? Time to find the biggest hat I own and dive in.
Ruins Magus – Magic or Ruins?
Ruins Magus starts like most games, an introduction to who you are, a setting of the scene and a gentle tutorial to get used to the controls. The movement system is stick driven, so no teleportation, it is slick and whilst I admit to sometimes submitting to nausea, I had no such experience. I always prefer to physically turn rather than use the rotate feature, but it is always good to have the choice.
The premise of Ruins Magus is very simple, enter the ruins, kill the enemies and return with treasure or information, armed with just a gauntlet and a shield. The gauntlet is charged up with magic which you use to launch attacks at the enemy, and the shield is to stop their attacks. When attacking with the gauntlet I found that the position that I had my hand in wasn’t the most comfortable, it was more like a Spiderman action of web-slinging, but once I was used to it, it became second nature. The gauntlet can be upgraded to deal more damaging attacks once the bad guys get stronger or more frequent. The shield has all your information on the back so you can quickly see how you are doing (how near to dead). You can also deflect attacks if your timing is good.
Ruins Magus plays well when advancing through the ruins, it’s a smooth experience and you quickly develop tactics for each baddie. You have a faithful assistant with you to give you a little help here and there. It’s a good thing that she cannot die, either by the hands of the enemy or an accidental misplaced spell. Monsters do seem to simply not notice her when they are attacking though, or she would have been long dead. There are on occasion tests of skill that take a bit of good timing to avoid decapitation, so you need to keep your wits about you. There is no doubt that the difficulty increases with each passing adventure, so keep upgrading to inflict as much damage as you can. Dare you equip a melee weapon and get into the heart of the combat? That’s a big fat no from me. Power ups are available to purchase, and never enter the ruins without a full complement of health potions. Restock whatever you can between adventures.
There is a nice little touch to your experience in that you get a camera to take in game photos. It’s a quirky little addition that did amuse me as I started taking photos of everything and then realised that no one really wanted to see them, but it would be a good memory of my adventures.
So far so good.
Ruins Magus is definitively not an RPG, unless you call a racing game an RPG because you are playing the role of a racecar driver. There are no options available to develop your character, you only have one direction you can go with decision making, the whole game is linear. I feel like the marketing team have totally tried to pull the wool over my eyes. There are no mysteries to solve, no puzzles to solve, nothing to work out before making your next move. I can’t work out if it’s a story interrupted by action, or an action game interrupted by a story. There are some areas that you are not allowed to go, these are not disguised as fallen rubble or trash on the street, you simply are not allowed to move there without anything blocking your way. I did also on occasion get a black screen with the message I was out of bounds. If there is a play area, then make sure it can’t be left. This was not caused by me physically moving in the room, but by moving in the game with the stick.
A big no no for me.
When playing VR games, it’s meant to feel like you are part of the game, and whilst the movement is smooth, I have a huge issue with combat. There is a reticule!! In real life, unless you have a laser sight, there is no way to accurately aim except by looking and practice. This takes out one of the most important VR elements for me, if I can see where I am aiming, then how do I get better?
Graphics & Audio
Ruins Magus does do well in the graphics department. The movement is very good, the monsters move smoothly, and the cut scenes are well produced. Playing in VR should always give a sense of the real, and this is achieved very well. I did find my experience very repetitive though, the variety that the graphics provided was pretty much non-existent. It was definitely more like driving down a highway than a beautiful country road. Making the walls darker and adding neon graffiti seems like a bit of a con. Unfortunately, this made my interest wane a little.
The audio in Ruins Magus hits the nail on the head. The unobtrusive background music filling the obvious void of silence without dominating. The voices are perfect for the imagery of the characters and add a lot to their personalities. The combat sound effects are again very well matched to the action you are presented with and add a lot to the combat during the gameplay. Knowing how successful a hit has been without watching it is a good aspect for VR combat and underused in my opinion.
Due to the nature of Ruins Magus, there is a lot of text to read as subtitles. Unfortunately, this was a huge stumbling block for me as the text stayed in the same place relative to your head position. I have a condition by which my right eye does not move right, and as such to read anything to the right of the screen means turning my head. This was impossible as the text moved with my head. The text has been raised slightly so that I can now just about read it all, but it is quite painful to strain my eyes. The developers have been approached and they are looking into the issue. Kudos to the team for listening and taking this issue seriously.
Whilst Ruins Magus has different difficulty settings, the overall gameplay becomes repetitive and dull very quickly. It’s fun, but it’s all very predictable. If you like a bit of an action adventure where you just fight monsters in a linear way, then this will be a good purchase, but played once and I can’t see the point of returning to play again. The price is a lot for what is actually delivered, the lack of variety does stand out. If you are into JRPG games (The RPG element being used loosely there) then Ruins Magus might keep you entertained, but don’t expect too much interactivity.
Ruins Magus does provide a good gameplay experience, the movement and combat are fun, but everything else seems to be lacking. It almost feels like the budget ran out as fast as the ideas, but it didn’t end up a total mess. It’s an action shooter wrapped up in an RPG box and my expectations were very quickly dashed. I would however like to see a sequel where there was less repetition and proper decisions to make and proper puzzles to solve. Get the variety in and Ruins Magus will be an excellent game, but at the moment it has just been added to the thesaurus next to disappointment.
I have decided to award Ruins Magus a Thumb Culture Silver Award because I am optimistically hopeful that the developers can improve on the solid foundation and create a fully immersive and interactive experience.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.