Beautiful and repetitive Dungeon Crawler VR

Ruinsmagus has fantastic art and solid combat, but its dungeon raids can’t avoid repetition. Read on for our full Ruinsmagus review.


As someone with no particular affinity for the medium, I must admit that anime works very well in virtual reality. You can really feel those big, bug-eyed characters peering into your soul, and the connective tissue between player and NPC grows faster than in more realistic worlds. Plus, the overall visual style really pops inside a helmet.

Ruinsmagus uses this wisely. It’s a heartwarming adventure that features many of the hallmarks of a great anime: an enthusiastic and likeable cast, a sprawling lore to flesh out its idyllic world, and a sweeping score that perfectly touches on both comedy and drama at the right times. As with Tokyo Chronos and others before it, it really feels like stepping into worlds previously only seen in manga and on screens. As a VR presentation piece, Ruinsmagus is a love letter ready to be signed, sealed and delivered.

Some of its other elements aren’t there yet, though.

There is, in all fairness, a surprising depth to this VR dungeon crawler. As a member of the titular guild, you spend your days venturing beyond a small settlement and into a set of ancient ruins to gradually uncover their mysteries. Stone guardians roam the hallways, ready to unleash hell-like attacks. To fend them off, you use a variety of magic attacks while defending yourself with a shield.

To its credit, developer CharacterBank has put a lot of thought into the game’s combat. You have a standard ranged attack backed by two special moves – all of which can be swapped out with new abilities unlocked through story progression – and a combination of short dash moves and timing-based shield parry gives you plenty of options on both the offensive and defensive sides.

And, when it clicks, Ruinsmagus’ action is pretty awesome. You can preemptively throw an ice turret or magic shield to hide behind before enemies spawn, then surround them with dashes to avoid damage when throwing fireballs, summoning lightning, or charging a barrage of bullets. It might not be an overly physical experience, but the use of shields and some gestures at least keeps the action grounded in VR more than many other games can muster.

But this great versatility comes at the cost of a certain intuition. The control scheme can be awkward, with major actions assigned to odd combinations and gestures. To reload, you need to point down and then simultaneously press the right grip and the trigger buttons. Without looking directly at your hand to see the animation, you never really know if you did it right. Switching items is done by flicking an analog stick up, making it difficult to quickly cycle through them in the middle of a fight and can be frustrating when you’re in dire need of a healing potion.

Your familiarity with the controls will improve with practice, but the overall layout could use some rethinking. Objects are located on your chest and you can easily grab them by accident instead of summoning a special move, and many spells require you to cast your attack, which is historically inaccurate science for VR.

What’s more problematic, however, is that Ruinsmagus is an inherently repetitive game in almost every way. The same handful of coins are used over and over again to take on an increasingly familiar cast of enemy types that don’t require you to change tactics, and many levels feature bullet-sponge boss battles that inflate the otherwise brief mission structure.

While the genre is already well served in VR, I suspect it would have worked better as a sharper, more varied roguelite that reused many of those mechanics and avoided boredom. You can practically hear CharacterBank acknowledging these issues as the story progresses. In one section, some of the caverns are redecorated with graffiti, and a handful of new enemy types are introduced as you progress through new acts.

However, none of this fundamentally changes the core experience, and some of the subplots ultimately turn out to be more like padding than anything else. Unless you absolutely run through the campaign without understanding the story, it will take you at least seven or eight hours to get through all the missions, but there’s not enough variety here to keep your interest going throughout.

But, while sometimes outdated, the game’s combat is never bad, and anime fans in general will likely find it worth seeing through to enjoy the other aspects of the game. as you play, more and more parts of the city open up, and while superficial, it’s a soothing pleasure to explore, meet wholesome characters, and take photos in cafes and shops.

There are even occasional flashes of real brilliance like boss introductions that unfold through 3D virtual windows and provide fun, stylized sequences. Some of the cast you’ll meet are a joy to interact with your spunky sidekick, Iris, and the combination of beautiful cobbled streets and soothing fiddle tracks is enough to make you want to stick around for a minute or two longer in some areas.

Ruin Mage

Some of that is marred by fairly common launch bugs, including one that causes characters to appear as ghostly silhouettes missing their textures, and dialogue could use another pass for typos, but hopefully those will be fairly quick fixes.

Ruinsmagus Review – Final Impressions

Ruinsmagus is a gorgeous game with a lot to love, but it’s a padded experience that quickly succumbs to repetition. As the fight itself engages, heading to the same set of ruins – often even the exact same rooms – to fight the same enemies for the 100th time quickly wears out, and more could have been done to change the game. experience during his campaign. Still, from a purely presentational standpoint, the game is an absolute delight and a joy to spend time in. For some, that’ll be enough to love Ruinsmagus, but the game would need some basic structural changes to become a true VR classic.

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