Ancient Amuletor has all the makings of a fun, if inessential tower defense game. You’ve got bright colors, varied enemy types and a range of character classes. Ti Games sets the stage for multiple hours of simple, accessible VR gaming quite well, the only problem being there isn’t actually multiple hours of content here.
At least not yet.
In its current form Ancient Amuletor offers just four maps that can be experienced in both single and multiplayer modes. Gameplay within these levels is fun and engaging; you use the PlayStation Move controllers to wield weapons and have to take down enemies before they carve their way through a set of crystals blocking their path. You get to grips with it pretty much straight away.
It’s just a shame that there isn’t much of it. Each level will take you anywhere between 10 to 20 minutes to beat, so you see all there is to offer in about two hours, though you might extend that a little teaming up with friends for online play or tackling the Endless mode. Depressingly, the game’s menu has blanked out spots with ‘Coming Soon’ written over them, suggesting DLC to turn this into a fully featured experience is on the way. I’d have rather just waited for the full package.
At least the gameplay itself shows an appreciated amount of polish. At the start of the game you’ll have three heroes to choose from. You get a orb-shooting mage, a dual-wielding gunner and, because this is a VR game, there’s an archer class too. Because of course there is. You can switch between these characters at will during matches, and each brings their own set of perks and quirks. Aiming is easiest with the gunner, but firepower is weaker than the archer, who has a reduced rate of fire thanks to the physical action of readying and then aiming your weapon. The mage is also powerful, but casting orbs with your Move is tricky and often inaccurate as you get to grips with the game.
Getting around maps is done by teleporting to specific locations that will automatically point you in the right direction of the action. The game does well to avoid occlusion issues on PSVR, though there are always awkward angles that your setup will struggle to track as you reach high and low to take out enemies. When your back is against a wall, though, you can use special powers that will give you a bit of breathing space.
One of the game’s joys is prioritising which enemies to take out and the balancing act that ensues. One small foot soldier is easily taken care of, but doesn’t do much damage to a crystal. It might be a better idea to instead aim for tank-like behemoths carrying bombs that take chunks out of health bars, but take too long and the minions might build up elsewhere on the map. Then there are units that can temporarily block platforms to teleport to, and boss encounters in which you’ll have to worry about your own health bar though, confusingly, death only means a 10 second time out with no visible impact on your final score in a level.
That said the game is played at a fairly relaxed pace, somewhat understanding of the player’s own skill level and the fact that they might be fighting PSVR’s tracking issues a little too. There isn’t much room for the challenge to significantly increase within the short amount of content. You can pretty much coast through it without breaking a sweat.
Thinking back to some of the better tower defense games of the last few years like PixelJunk Monsters, it’s a shame there isn’t more of a fully fledged campaign here. I would have happily waited on Ancient Amuletor for however long it needed to flesh out a full story mode. Releasing it ow just feels like a missed opportunity.
Juggling where to be and who to shoot gets significantly easier in the game’s multiplayer mode, which offers cooperative play for up to four people. In fact the game’s a little too easy this way on the normal modes, which you’ll have to beat to unlock the harder option. At the same time there’s new weapons to unlock that will also help you get a little further.