From Hashbang Games comes their debut VR title, Mage Guard: The Last Grimoire. The game released on Early Access on Steam for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift at the end of July. In this spellcasting wave shooter, you’ll make use of various spells to defend the mage’s guild and all of the valuable, dangerous knowledge it holds in a book called a grimoire.
As the story goes, according to the developers, a rogue faction within the Guild breaks away and begins running rampant, capturing or burning villages, stealing knowledge and artifacts and setting themselves up as the ruling class of the land. Unfortunately, though, the rest of the Guild just wasn’t up to defeating them and most of them have perished. Now, as one of the last mages left, it’s up to you to keep the Guild’s most powerful relic away from the clutches of evil, which means battling against them in the Guild Archives.
Though to be honest, while playing Mage Guard: The Last Grimoire (using the Vive) I didn’t get much sense of a storyline. I know what the story is but wouldn’t have if I’d just played the game without any background knowledge. There was no storyline, and there were no NPC’s or other characters, besides the robotic AI that kept attacking me and the little scroll of text instructing me on how to use the spells. So it just felt like another wave shooter really. The only differentiator is the overall design, the spells (though they were pretty standard too), and the types of enemies.
Check out the gameplay video below:
I think the biggest attraction Mage Guard: The Last Grimoire brought to the table for me, initially at least, was the way you cast spells in the game. It works in terms of runes that you draw in the air. So with one hand I could draw a certain shape in the air and that would determine the type of spell branch I was using, i.e. either fire or ice. Then with my left hand I could draw another line or circle in the air and that would determine what spell I was using. The runes weren’t hard to remember, thankfully, so I could keep casting at a steady rate without worry.
I liked that you have to draw runes to create the spells, but this isn’t the first magic-themed game to do so as the studio advertises on the Mage Guard: The Last Grimoire Steam Page. There’s the exploration wave shooter, The Wizards, PvP dueling game, InVokeR, and Runes: The Forgotten Path – to name but a few.
The spells showed potential and I would love to see more as there are currently only six spells in the game under two categories – fire and ice. Plus these spells don’t really vary all that much in what they do, as in fire or ice balls, but rather in intensity and how much mana they drain. The problem here is that Mage Guard: The Last Grimoire was so easy I didn’t even use any of the spells that take more mana since the simplest one served quite well in keeping all of the enemies at bay.
A red glowing tattoo on my right arm represents my health and a blue tattoo on my left arm, my mana. The mana would go down at a steady rate as I cast spells, meaning the glow started fading from the bottom of the tattoo upward, but the mana also regenerated at a fast pace so I never really ran out of it either.
They Be Dropping Like Flies
As for the enemies, there were four types of them during the course of the three levels currently available in the game. There were strange rats with what looked like pink crystals coming out of their backs, flying skulls with wings, skeleton archers and enemy mages. The enemies in Mage Guard: The Last Grimoire were very predictable as well since they came out at regular intervals and always ran along the same path or stopped at the same points. Meaning, by calculating ahead a little, I could defeat them without them ever getting near me. Still, it only took me about half an hour to get through the entirety of the game.
Do keep in mind that this title is only at the start of its Early Access run. I also didn’t encounter any bugs or glitches which is great. So I think with some more content, a little tweaking to the AI, and an actual storyline this game could have a lot of potential. For now, though, it just left me wondering if it’s worth the $19,99 price tag.
Title: Mage Guard: The Last Grimoire Review
Genre: Wave Shooter
Developer: Hashbang Games
Publisher: Hashbang Games
Release Date: 31 July 2017