Delving into the ancient world of historical mythology, TiGames have built a fun and accessible action tower defence game for PSVR. Prepare yourself for a little workout though, as you’ll be picking up a pair of Move controllers and indulging in some relatively energetic motion control as you do so.
Each of the maps feature a range of crystals that you need to try and defend from enemies themed after the ancient eras. Enemies drawn from ancient times troop from mysterious portals towards the nearest crystal, as you fire down from set platforms that you can teleport between. There are certain contraptions that you can trigger to assist you in locking down a path, but it’s a bit of a misnomer to call this a tower defence game if you’re not building any towers!
I’d also say say that the enemies don’t quite fit the description of being “waves of magical creatures, monsters and more.” While there are mummies and mages – these the most interesting enemies – on the mystical side of things, Egyptian archers and Roman soldiers flesh out the roster of enemies. Those are all fine, but I’m a bit iffy on the far guys waddling around with cartoonish spherical bombs.
Despite such simplicity, the game is actually a surprising amount of fun, and there’s some good variety in the four characters you can play as, if not so much the targets you have to take down. There’s the archer Lia, the akimbo shotgun toting Katie, the mage Harry and the puppeteer clown Park. They all contrast strongly, both in terms of visual styling and their weaponry and role.
The bow and arrow are great for long shots, with a nice and predictable arrow drop, while Harry’s spells are drawn from a spell book and then flicked towards targets to deal a modest amount of splash damage. By contrast, Katie is all about rapid fire blasting with her shotguns, while Park – once unlocked by completing the first era – throws a dummy nearby and lets you control its arm motions to wave around and hit nearby enemies, making him great for locking down a particular path.
Each has a special ability that builds up until you can unleash an endless stream of shotgun fire, for example, or auto-target a bunch of enemies with arrows. You’re also given a brief assistance by droppable items that can slow enemies, increase your damage, or simply kill everything in the level.
However, I always found myself gravitating toward Katie, for two key reasons. Firstly, she’s the least physically demanding character, which is a blessing once you’ve drawn and released 50+ arrows, flicked dozens of spells, and flailed around madly for a few minutes to control a puppet. She also demands the least precision, and while she struggles to hit things with accuracy more than a couple metres away, you can spam shots and flick to reload quickly enough that she just gets the job done.
That’s less important when you play in co-op, with up to three players able to team up. You can spread out across the map and handle different lanes, or group together when needed to defeat larger groups of enemies. Even then, you’ll likely be teleporting from platform to platform, as the enemies can come at you from all sorts of angles. It’s when the game pulls you in lots of different directions that it gets to be most fun and challenging, with the enemies largely being of the slow and shambling variety.
Unfortunately, Ancient Amuletor is over before it’s really begun. At launch there’s an Egyptian and a Roman themed world, each of which has one level in which you simply face waves of enemies and a level that ends in a boss fight. The bosses do make things a little more interesting, especially the Roman train/tank with anachronistic cannon, but there’s no getting away from the fact that the credits roll after just four levels.
While the game is certainly sparse at launch, there are a number of things in the menu labelled as “coming soon”. Two further heroes are in the works, as are two further historical locations, with what look like Vikings and ancient Japan. Asking the developers what the plan here was, they will be made available at some future date, but it’s currently undecided whether they will be free or not. Considering how anaemic the game feels when it rolls the credits after four levels, I hope it’s the former.
While they’re at it, they could tweak what’s already there. Splash damage is rather inconsistent, for one thing, but there’s also odd little oversights, such as how levels and the puppeteer character only unlock through single player and not multiplayer, and the bizarre omission of a pause menu.
The game does deserve a special mention, however, for its decidedly improbable boobs. As Lia conforms to the “sexy elf archer” trope, and the game renders your body, you can look down and find a pair of boobs if you play as her. Needless to say, it was amusing to discover that while there’s no pause menu, you can boop yourself in the virtual boob.
Ancient Amuletor is actually fairly close to being a hidden gem for PlayStation VR owners, with fun gameplay across four characters and motion controls that work rather well, but there’s simply not enough levels at launch and only vague promises of more in the future. As they add more worlds and characters, TiGames can hopefully make this shine.
Version tested: PlayStation VR