Ruins Magus is a VR first person fantasy game with JRPG elements and an Anime style. It has been developed entirely with Japanese voiced dialog, but with text translations that appear in a box. The player is a new ‘Magus’ which appears to be a wizard of sorts. The player starts with quite a few abilities, including casting a fireball type of spell, short teleport (blink), creating a point-blank area of effect fire, blocking with a shield, parrying an attack, and using grenades or potions. This comes with a bit of a learning curve as these capabilities all utilize different button and gesture actions to activate. The goal is for the player to complete missions by entering ‘ruins’, defeating enemies, and collecting objects.
There are only a few options in Ruins Magus. The language can be selected for the dialog translations and some quality of play items like setting the character height to match the player’s actual height. There is also a sitting mode. The volume controls can be adjusted and both the voice and background music need to be turned down right off the bat, as they are ridiculously loud. Unfortunately Ruins Magus does not have any control options at all, and this is a problem. For left-handed players, there is no way to switch controllers, so that the shield and throwing arms are reversed. Throwing objects right-handed as a left-handed player is very awkward. In addition, the controller orientation is incorrect for the Vive controllers, this is especially a problem for the right hand. It is twisted about 90 degrees, requiring the player to awkwardly twist their hand clockwise and bend the wrist at an awkward angle to properly aim and fire. This becomes painful after a short time playing.
The game play is derivative of other VR dungeon crawlers, notably “VR Dungeon Knight” and “The Wizards”. The initial ruins are very blocky, brightly lit up, and feature enemies that appear somewhat mechanical or robotic, but with some sort of magic that makes them work. The crawl through each time is very simple, there does not appear to be any way to get lost. Combat is extremely awkward due to the way the controls have been setup, and the orientation problem with the right hand makes the problem actually painful after a short time. The number of control combinations and buttons in common between different actions make for easy mistakes; like trying to reload instead of creating an AOE fire or doing a 180 degree turn or switching from healing potion to grenade. Allowing the players to remap controls and especially switch hands for left-handed players would make a big difference. Anyway, each encounter has a gate close, so the player can’t back-track, so it’s sort of an arena type fight each time. It doesn’t feel much like a dungeon crawl, and there isn’t any treasure to discover or looting of enemies after combat.
Ruins Magus has a very narrated story behind the gameplay. It is hard to say without delving deep into the game, but it seems like the missions are scripted, so each ruin that the player enters is not something randomly generated, it’s been hand crafted. Unfortunately, the mission designs and opponents are quite bland. At the end of each mission the player is teleported back to the safe grounds, where they will be talked at, then a mission performance scorecard appears and the player is allowed to proceed to the next mission. There are some rewards, for example a new spell or special item for completing a mission, but there is no player choice in what direction to develop, it seems to all be ‘canned’. While there is some appeal to Ruins Magus, because of the production values, the awkward (and maybe overly complex) controls, bland level designs, and overall static player development are real detriments. Ruins Magus may be VR heaven for Anime nuts, but most gamers will be put off by all of the negatives for the price being charged, so this game is not recommended.