27.02.2024

Over the years, many genres have transitioned beautifully into virtual reality: this platform is full of shooters, sports games, rhythm games, and platformers for players to immerse themselves in. Unfortunately, there’s one genre that isn’t as well-loved – the JRPG, which has limited options for players looking to embark on a deep fantasy adventure. Ruinsmagus , the new release from developer CharacterBank, aims to fill that void with its mystical journey in which players unravel a mysterious narrative by dungeon crawling and defeating villains with their magical abilities.

  • Developer: CharacterBank inc
  • Publisher: CharacterBank inc / Mastiff
  • Release Date: July 7, 2022

The action of Ruinsmagus takes place in the city of Grand Amnis, where the player is a member of a guild that specializes in exploring the ruins underground. While these ruins are full of artifacts to collect, they also hold some secrets that have been slumbering until now, but could eventually prove dangerous to the inhabitants of the city. It’s up to you to explore these ruins further, find out what exactly is inside them, and ultimately make sure that Grand Amnis remains safe from any hidden threat. It’s actually a typical JRPG story, although some intriguing characters and neat world design ensure that it remains interesting throughout.

It’s worth noting that although the game has voice acting, it’s all in Japanese. It’s a text rich game, so you’ll have to read a lot to uncover more details of the story. This isn’t actually a bad thing, and I’ve played plenty of JRPGs in the past that did the same thing, though I’d be lying if I said it didn’t slightly break the immersive narrative offered in virtual reality.

As a big JRPG fan, I was very impressed with how Ruinsmagus felt right from the start. The city itself looks great and has a lot of detail, the anime-style visuals added a lot of personality to the game, and the type of quests I had to complete made me want to delve further into the game. I’m a big fan of magic in JRPGs, so from the beginning I was interested in focusing on unlocking the elements.

However, the more I played, the more Ruinsmagus felt less like a JRPG and more like a typical first-person VR adventure. I get it; with motion controls, every game you play will be more action-oriented. However, because of its dungeon-crawling gameplay, I was just aiming at targets, firing my various magical abilities at them, and then using my shield to block attacks, or getting out of the way quickly when possible… something I’ve done them a lot in many action games. It just didn’t feel like I was playing what I usually consider a JRPG, where turn-based and strategic combat is often at the forefront.

However, that doesn’t mean Ruinsmagus isn’t fun. Some of the magic you have at your disposal is great: your repertoire of skills offers plenty of options that offer both offensive and defensive capabilities, ensuring that showdowns with enemies can be really exciting. From time to time you’ll find projectiles flying at you from all directions, and fast player mobility and quick reactions are often essential to your success. Add to this the fact that your own spells are powerful and that there are some epic boss battles that will really test your skills, and it becomes easy to see that Ruinsmagus has a lot going for it.

However, there is one caveat: getting used to the controls can be tricky. You have to use various button combinations and movements to perform actions in Ruinsmagus, and it took me about an hour to get used to it. It’s not that it’s not intuitive, but rather that there’s a lot to learn when switching between different spells or using items. There was also no left hand support option, which could make performing some actions seem a bit awkward for a lefty like me.

I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t feel repetitive in places. While there are twenty-five story quests in the game, many of them can feel the same over time, with the basics of each dungeon not varying much except for a few small changes in aesthetics or color scheme. The variety of enemies is also low, so you can expect to have to go through the same battles over and over again for about a nine-hour experience. The linear nature of the dungeon design doesn’t help, and the lack of loot in each dungeon feels like a missed opportunity. Again, all of these design aspects make Ruinsmagus less of a JRPG and more of a typical VR action game.

Still, while it has flaws, I enjoyed the game, especially considering some of the improvements you can make by returning to the main center of the game. I enjoyed improving my spells and using some of the more powerful ones in combat, while interacting with the people of Grand Amnis and learning more about the world always felt rewarding. It can get repetitive, but I was never bored: there was enough charm in both the action and the narrative to make my journey seem worthwhile.


Ruinsmagus may not be the deep JRPG experience that virtual reality fans were hoping for, but it still offers an enjoyable adventure – even IF it can be guilty of feeling repetitive in places.

With fun combat and a variety of spells, vibrant world design, and an enchanting narrative, this magical adventure has enough to keep players immersed until the very end. I wish there was more variety in enemy and dungeon design, but the journey to defend the Great Amnis never feels dull.


PROS

  • Beautiful world
  • Awesome narration and animation of Japanese characters.
  • The spells are different and it’s fun to cast them in virtual reality
  • Boss battles

CONS

  • The game is more of an action game than a JRPG
  • Repetitive small dungeons
  • Small variety of enemies
  • Sometimes confusing controls

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