One under represented area in VR is JRPG, this is where games like RUINSMAGUS come in. With the team at CharacterBank looking the bring a vibrant world to life and taking you on an epic story-driven adventure, which is now available on the PSVR2.
You are part of a guild for the city of Grand Amnis that specialises in exploring the ruins beneath the land of the city. The ruins are often explored to collect artifacts by the Magus, but also they hold some secrets that could be dangerous to the inhabitants of Grand Amnis. But, can you keep the city of Grand Amnis safe?
Where the story and parts of the gameplay touch on a virtual reality JRPG, and the game has a good base to build one, it plays more a VR dungeon crawler at heart – and there is some depth to this.
The team at CharacterBank have brought a number of options to your attack setup, with more options for attacks unlocking as you progress through the story and quests. You can select one standard attack, two back-up special attacks (that can be switched between) and your ultimate attack. With a good number of options unlocked, you can find a build that works for you and switch up how you play. With your defense being made up of blocking with a shield, dashing and parrying the attacks you can back at the enemies.
When you get the build that works for you, it can all come together like a masterpiece, as you are putting down ice-turrets, throwing fireballs and dashing out the way of incoming attacks (my chosen preferred build).
Your chosen standard attack is infinite use, however, your gauntlet has little-viles on it that you will need to reload. This is done by placing you arm down by your side, and pressing grip and trigger, and the viles will eject and be replaced – and I can’t help but watch this animation every time as it looks great.
My main issue came with the inventory management while in the ruins, this is on your chest and switched with by up and down on the right analogue, this means you can change your item by accident at times. You can disable it so only one direction changes item, but I find having both ways enabled is easier to find what you wanted, especially in the heat of a battle. For me, this is one area where they possibly could have made better use of the VR implementation.
Most ventures into the ruins will end with a boss fight, but I am not going to ruin any of these for you. But, these do bring in the JRPG element of them being well designed around the environment, and bringing a variety of attacks for you to make use of all your defense options in the one battle.
Stepping into the game is like stepping into your own anime, with the visual style that suits the JRPG feeling perfectly. The has allowed the team to use vibrant colours against the ruins that are more gloomy to the outside world – mix this with a great use of lighting and the world really comes to life inside of the HMD. Having played the game previously on PC, one thing I can say is the OLED and HDR on PSVR2 gives you the best looking version of this game, as it really allows the colours to pop.
Add to the impressive visuals a fantastic use of audio. All the main characters that are involved in quests are voice acted well, and the game comes with English and Japanese voice-over (with subtitles) – I played it with the later to have that full JRPG feeling. Finish this off with an awesome and epic soundtrack, that is great in it’s own right, and the game really comes to life with the audio.
You can play the game seated or standing, and it comes with all the comfort options you would expect. With teleportation, snap-turning and vignettes all being available – with my experience in VR, I turned it all off and went in with full locomotion. But, all these settings mean the choices are there to match your comfort level.
One thing the team have implemented is new vibration patterns for the attacks and spells, and the HMD haptics to rumble when you take damage. With the later certainly becoming useful in tense moments, as you know to keep an eye on your health if the rumbles are happening often.
The game including the new DLC side-quest took me around twelve-hours to complete. However, parts of the DLC is collecting outfits for Iris, and to get them all you need to S-Rank every quest in the game. I was missing S-Rank in about 5 quests, so I might return to attempt to improve this in the quest replay option. Although, if you do want to collect all these twelve-hours is still a nice amount of playtime.
REVIEWED USING PLAYSTATION VR 2
For the purposes of transparency, this review was created using a review code provided by the company or their respective PR company. The use of a press code does not affect my judgment of the product.
RUINSMAGUS brings an Anime JRPG to virtual reality, well I like to think of it as a JRPG-lite – the reason for this is has the story, characters and base of a JRPG, but it doesn’t go as deep as some would probably want in this genre. What it does really well is welcomes you into the world Grand Amnis, takes you on a warm-hearted adventure with a cast of enthusiastic characters and a perfect musical score to set the scene, be it in epic boss battles or light hearted where needed. RUINSMAGUS is certainly a treat for Anime fans, and finding your perfect build as you unlock more abilities leads to some great and intense battles – especially as you take on bosses.
Release Date: September 19th 2023
Developer: CharacterBank Inc
Publisher: CharacterBank Inc