It took a little longer than most would have liked, but The Mage’s Tale (“MT”) has finally left PC exclusiveness and entered the PSVR realm, and I’ll be damned if it isn’t still one of the greatest RPG experiences in VR to date. Even if you aren’t completely aware of the VR world, MT might sound vaguely familiar. Fans of The Bard’s Tale may already be aware of this, but MT is also from inXile and set in the same universe. The delay in release to PSVR sets for an awkward timeline as MT takes place between the third and fourth games in the Bard series, but this won’t stop you from enjoying the game, even as a standalone title with no other experience in the universe.
The delay also as some benefits as many of the improvements made to the PC version are already integrated into the PSVR edition, including free locomotion as a movement method allowing for much smoother controls (on the Move controllers only folks, no Dualshock). The game is fairly lengthy by VR standards these days (I clocked in around 10 hours my first time through the game). There is an excellent mix of combat, which is fairly intuitive, and puzzles to keep you entertained.
Given the title of this entry into the universe, it’s no surprise that most combat is handled through spellcasting. You eventually gain a shield that you can use to defend yourself, but the bulk of the entertainment value comes from hurling fireballs and other spells towards your enemy. Aiming is accomplished through a combo of head control and the Move controllers, where some spells can even be re-directed in mid-air.
In typical RPG fashion, you level both your character and skills as you make your way deeper into the game. It is imperative to stay on top of this, especially in any of the 10 boss encounters, which can be countered once you learn the combat patterns. These encounters, along with the puzzles, loot, and traps, keep the pacing fresh and the game interesting throughout.
There is a PS4 Pro patch to be released post-launch (launch date unknown as of this writing). It’s too bad this wasn’t ready for launch though, as you can clearly see that some of the demanding visuals needed to be downscaled to run on a standard PS4. It will be interesting to see how the improved graphics look once implemented. Even without the patch, however, The Mage’s Tale could become a point of comparison for future RPG titles in the VR scene. Skyrim is probably the closest, and probably surpasses MT, but Skyrim can be overwhelming with its grand scale. The Mage’s Tale gives a more approachable experience for those looking for something in the genre, or those that do not want to sit through the opening ramble of Skyrim for the umpteenth time. A must-buy for fans of The Bard’s Tale and RPG’s in general.
4.3 starts out of 5