Preview: Ancient Amuletor for PS VR

I’ll be brutally honest. I cannot stand tower defense games. I think they are a cheap and easy way to avoid creating a fully realized real-time strategy game. Smart phone shovelware oversaturation of the genre made for many instances of my getting excited for a game, only to discover that it once again followed the same damn tower defense formula.

It’s like those “runner” titles. I hardly consider them games. So, despite my complaints, it looks like VR has once again made something I previously had no interest in into something I will absolutely play when it launches.

TiGames was awesome enough to give us a small preview to their upcoming tower defense VR game, Ancient Amuletor. And what didn’t work for me on my smartphone is an absolute blast on the VR headset.

One of the reasons why I call tower defense games an “easy out” for developers, is that mobility is not factored into combat. You are always on the defensive, simply preparing for waves of enemies. While that element is an attribute of real-time strategy, it is not the only one. Troop mobility and offensive positioning is also a part of it. So it was extremely uninteresting for me to simply post sentries on walls and watch the enemies come and be slaughtered… until I became that sentry.

And that lack of troop mobility? Guess what? It’s perfect for VR, particularly for those folks who get sick with VR character movement. Here, you’re locked to one place, taking out enemy waves. If you wish to relocate to get a better angle, you can teleport with a push of the button. So all you have to worry about is attacking the enemies.

… line up your arrow with an evil skeleton warrior’s skull …
What makes this so interesting in VR is the character classes you inhabit. For this preview version I only had the options of an archer and a mage but there will be two others available for the final build.

Both characters have very distinct methods of attack and those methods are both engaging and a load of fun. Those of you familiar with that old PlayStation Move game, Sports Champions, will instantly feel at home with the archer’s control scheme because Ancient Amuletor requires two Move controllers.

The way you launch arrows here is by holding up one controller, representing your actual bow, and drawing back with the other controller while holding the trigger. I remember this feeling awesome on Sports Champions. It feels even better in VR as you line up your arrow with an evil skeleton warrior’s skull.

Yes, you can Legolas the hell out of this as well and draw as fast as your arms allow. There might even be a little exercise in the experience. Additionally, you are allowed special moves. The one available in this preview build offered me the opportunity to lock onto multiple enemies at once before launching a magic arrow that targeted and destroyed them in one swoop.

… It’s indescribable how amazing it is seeing your spells appear before you …
But if magic is more your forte, then the mage class is also one of the better executions of magic in VR that I have experienced thus far, although there haven’t been many options this early in the VR generation. Not only do you wield a powerful wand on one hand, but your other hand actually holds your spell book, which is pretty badass.

You summon spells from your book and grasp the floating essence with your wand. Attacking with that essence involves flicking the wand at the enemy. Initially, you only have the primary attack which resembles a magic missile of sorts. You also have an ice spell that has a pretty powerful range of attack.

It’s indescribable how amazing it is seeing your spells appear before you in VR. Even more intriguing is that you can summon multiple orbs and place them in front of you in order to prepare for a larger group of enemies.

I honestly cannot wait for this game to make its debut. Not only do I want to try this online with friends, but I’m also looking forward to trying the two remaining classes, one of which appears to dual-wield hand muskets. I may not jump on my phone and start playing tower defense games any time soon, but with Ancient Amuletor, I’m all in on defending those towers, or crystals, when it releases this Summer.

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  • Makai

    I love Dungeon Defenders, but Dungeon Defenders 2, has mobility, it has positioning your character, they are adding more real time defensive elements, such as the Abyss lord has a tower that can be moved with ease, without having to sell it and then move it because you only get the 1, but you can also swap in and out of DPS characters with ease while your towers do what they need to… Some characters have abilities that are tower like. EV can restrict it’s movement to create a huge massively damaing laser but you overheat fairly quickly and when you overheat you have to shoot enemies to blow off some steam, another ability is bombs you can put in air, and then you can shoot the bombs to detonate them.

    The Gunwitch however has a magical broom she rides on that is also a Blunderbuss at the end, and you can fly, double jump, get from 1 side of the map to the other, turn enemies into books that flop around, fly to another part of the map, dual wield magic machinegun blunderbuss machine gun brooms, and then go to another part of the map.

    I feel like Dungeon Defenders is something you completely overlooked. It was even relatively fun on smartphones.

    Now the question to me, is, will this game be anywhere near as good. Will I care, or will this feel like a cheesy cruddy rip off? This could be awesome, it could be amazing, or it could just be a cheap overly easy game for me.

    • Rey Barrera

      I really enjoyed DD as well (both parts), but in DD you could walk about and engage enemies, so while it was a Wave-based “Tower defense” it’s other mechanics kept it from being the typical shovelware smart phone tower game. Even Starhawk (PS3) was a tower defense game at its core, but with vehicles and the ability to jump on a transforming jet plane.

      Ancient Amuletor is more like the traditional tower defense. You are rooted to one location and take out enemies from that location. You can teleport to other “stations” but you can’t walk there. So I was comparing it to the traditional form of TD 🙂

      All that said, VR really made this a very enjoyable experience (especially since some people don’t like walking in VR).

      • Makai

        Ok well when you were saying your rant against Tower Defense games I was worried that you were overgeneralizing.

        Also maybe try Defense Grid 2. I think there’s a demo for PS4, and I enjoy that series. It gets well reviewed. Might be a Tower Defense game you enjoy but I’m also a huge Plants Versus Zombies fan, got the platinum on Vita, and played like 8 worlds worth of the game on my cellphone. I enjoy tower defense. Maybe you just only like good Tower Defense, or almost not really Tower Defense.

        But I was just trying to point out that there are other games with such a design, which might help someone who wants to play this game or a game like it but doesn’t have VR. I would gladly review this game but it looks like I’ll probably buy it based on your recommendation or lack thereof.