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Lovely, repetitive VR Dungeon Crawler

Lovely, repetitive VR Dungeon Crawler

Ruinsmagus can boast fantastic art and solid combat, but the dungeon attacks cannot avert repetitions. Read on for our full Ruinsmagus review.


When I speak as someone who has no special affiliation with the medium, I must admit that anime works very well in VR. You can really feel the big characters staring into your soul, and the connective tissue between the player and the NPC grows faster than it does in more realistic worlds. Plus, the overall visual style really shows up in a headset.

Ruinsmagus uses this with great effect. It is a warm-hearted adventure that has many of the characteristics of a great anime: an enthusiastic and personal cast, vast lore to give its idyllic world concrete and a sweeping score that perfectly touches on both the comic and the dramatic in the right moments. As with Tokyo Chronos and others before that, it really feels like stepping into worlds you previously only watched in manga and on screens. As a piece of VR presentation, Ruinsmagus is a love letter ready to be signed, sealed and delivered.

Some of the other items are not quite there yet.

There is, in fairness, surprising depth in this VR dungeon crawler. When you play as a member of the titular guild, you spend your days wandering across a small village and into a set of ancient ruins to gradually uncover their mysteries. Stone guards chase the corridors, ready to share attacks in the style of hell. To ward them off, use a series of magic attacks while defending yourself with a shield.

In honor, developer CharacterBank has put a lot of thought into the game’s gameplay. You have a standard distance attack supported by two special moves – all of which can be replaced with new skills that are unlocked through the progression of the story – and a combination of short moves and timing-based shield pairing gives you many options both on the offensive. and defensive sides.

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Ruinsmagus new image

And when it clicks, Ruinsmagus’ action is pretty good. You can pre-cast an ice tower or magic shield to hide behind before enemies appear, and then circle them with dashes to avoid damage while throwing fireballs, summoning ignition or charging a load of bullets. It may not be an excessive physical experience, but the use of shields and some movements at least keeps the action anchored in VR more than many other games can muster.

But this versatility comes at the expense of a little intuition. The control system can be difficult, with large actions associated with strange combinations and movements. Reloading requires you to point down and then press both the right grip and the release button at the same time. Without staring directly at your hand to see the animation, you never quite know if you did it right. Swapping items is done by pushing an analog stick upwards, making it difficult to quickly cycle through them in the middle of a fight, and it can be frustrating when you are in dire need of a healing potion.

Your knowledge of the controls will improve with practice, but the overall setup can be done with a reassessment. Objects are placed on your chest, and you can easily take them by accident instead of summoning a special move, and many spells require you to actually cast your attack, which is a historically imprecise science for VR.

What is more problematic, however, is that Ruinsmagus is an inherently repetitive game in just about every way. The same handful of rooms are used time and time again to meet an increasingly familiar pool of enemy types that do not require you to change tactics, and many levels have bullet-mushroom boss battles that inflate the otherwise short mission structure.

Although the genre is already well served in VR, I suspect this would have worked better as a sharper, more varied roguelite who reused many of these mechanics and averted boredom. You can practically hear CharacterBank acknowledge these issues as the story progresses. In one section, some of the caves have been refurbished with graffiti, and a number of new enemy types are introduced as you move on to new actions.

None of these fundamentally change the core experience, and in the end some of the side plots appear more like padding than anything else. Unless you absolutely rush through the campaign without taking in the story, it will take you at least seven or eight hours to review all the quests, but there is not enough variation here to maintain your interest throughout.

But even if it’s sometimes outdated, the game’s gameplay is never bad, and fans of anime in general will probably find it worth checking out to enjoy the other aspects of the game. As you play, more areas of the city open up, and although superficial, it’s a soothing pleasure to explore, meet healthy characters, and take pictures of cafes and shops.

There are even the occasional glimpse of true brilliance, as boss introductions take place through virtual 3D windows and offer fun, stylized sequences. Some of the cast you will meet are a joy to interact with, such as your mature sidekick, Iris, and the combination of beautiful cobbled streets and soothing violin tracks is enough to make you want to stay a minute or two longer in some areas.

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Ruinsmagus

Some of this is ruined by some fairly common launch errors, including one that makes characters appear as ghostly silhouettes that lack the textures, and the dialog can use a different pass for typos, but I hope these will be fairly quick fixes.

Ruinsmagus review – last impression

Ruinsmagus is a beautiful game with a lot to love, but it is a padded experience that quickly gives way to repetition. While the battle itself is engaging, it soon goes into the same set of ruins – often even the exact same rooms – to fight the same enemies for the 100th time, and more could have been done to change the experience in during its campaign. Still, from a purely presentation perspective, the game is an absolute delight and a joy to spend time in. For some, it will be enough to love Ruinsmagus, but the game would need some fundamental structural changes to become a true VR classic.

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