In many ways, Witching Tower feels like an elaborate dungeon plucked from the fantasy world of The Elder Scrolls, and Skyrim in particular. Once you’ve popped on your VR headset, you’re quickly immersed in exploring the bowels of a ruined castle atop snowy mountains, solving puzzles, casting spells and battling undead warriors as you learn more about its dark past.
This isn’t an RPG, however. Witching Tower is best described as an action adventure, but it juggle a variety of elements, some working better than others in virtual reality. You are a prisoner within this tower, but with some help from a chatty floating skull you’ll attempt to escape the clutches of an undead queen while unearthing hidden arcane powers. Witching Tower doses you with a linear mix of combat, puzzles, and exploration.
The first of this trio is perhaps the weakest. Swatting smaller enemies such as bats and hounds only takes one or two satisfying swings of a melee weapon. However, when it comes to throwing down against the queen’s armoured thralls, combat turns into a mindless mess as you shake your controller, hoping to shred their health bar the moment they’re exposed.
Using the game’s bow is slightly more forgiving and you’ll eventually unlock a power that makes most fights fairly trivial.
Puzzles are are much more fun and thoughtful, urging you to survey and interact with your surrounding environment. As with other PlayStation VR games of this ilk, expect to be twisting dials and pulling levers, one puzzle requiring you to create a potion by preparing then mixing magical reagents.
The exploration that occurs in between these segments can often add to the overall experience, as well. There’s a nifty climbing mechanic early on and you’ll also come across a hook-like device used to latch onto objects such as ledges or other objects that are deliberately out of reach.
For the most part Witching Tower feels natural, though it’s clear that developer Daily Magic Productions didn’t craft this game specifically for PlayStation VR. During our playthrough there were some niggling issues when it came to tracking the Move controllers.
At other times I’d need to reach down to pick up an object, but it would be physically impossible, forcing me to change my PSVR camera setup and then switch back. This shouldn’t be a problem for those with a massive play area putting their full body in view of the PlayStation Camera, and on other systems with room scale VR like the Vive and Oculus.