Ancient Amuletor is a tower defense game in name only because you're not responsible for laying down defenses, traps, and taking advantage of bottlenecks--you know, like most typical tower defense games. Instead, you’ll control one of four playable heroes tasked with fighting off waves of enemies as they attempt to destroy a series of magical crystals. Movement is limited to teleporting between numerous vantage points, allowing you to hop across the battlefield to handle threats across large maps. Gameplay is broken into different themed worlds such as Ancient Egypt and Rome, comprised of two stages each, one of them functioning as a boss stage. A nice collection of enemy types keeps the action interesting, with archers attacking crystals at range and evil sorcerers closing off vantage points and summoning additional enemies.
Fighting against these villains are a series of Overwatch-like characters armed with unique attacks and powerful special abilities. You can play as a wizard that fires bolts of dark energy and uses ice-based area attacks to halt advancing foes. There’s an elven-like master of the bow and arrow capable of taking enemies down in one hit and hitting multiple targets at once. She’s a powerful character but requires the most practice with how you mimic the action of firing an arrow. It takes some getting used to but once you get the hang of the action, she can be a satisfying character to play. There’s also a steampunk-looking gunslinger that dual wields shotguns and a court jester who uses a giant robot to do his fighting. Their attacks and special moves make each character a great asset in the field and you’re given free reign to switch between them at any time. Should things get too overwhelming, defensive structures can be triggered to fling explosive barrels to take out a close knit mob or repeatedly slam an axe down on the heads of anyone walking up the lane.
There is so much I enjoy about Ancient Amuletor. Even though you’re locked into a stationary position, you can spin around the vantage point and take out enemies close-up or at a distance. I also appreciate being lifted from the burden of placing traps and defenses on the map as I find it more fun to engage the enemy directly. As the waves get larger and larger, there’s a thrill in jumping from one point to another to prioritize advancing mobs. The PlayStation Move controls are fantastic, though sometimes a wee bit jittery (which causes some mishaps when using the bow and arrow). I like how you have to pantomime the action of drawing the bow, flicking the guns up to reload, slinging bolts of energy, and flailing an axe and hammer in the direction of anything that moves. Finally, I absolutely adore the colorful, cartoony look of the game. All in-game assets, from the level design to enemies, has a great stylized vision that makes this game look as if it were based on some animated property. It’s a great use of the Unreal Engine.
The game didn’t have to work hard to completely win me over. The time I spent was fun and exhilarating and certainly, has the potential to be one of the better PlayStation VR games. It’s for this reason that it pains me to suggest that you shouldn’t buy the game on release. If my review copy is indicative of what to expect at launch, there is not enough content to justify a price point any higher than free. There are only four stages to play, two in Ancient Egypt and two in Rome. From start to finish, I’d say it took me about 45 minutes to reach the game’s end credits. There simply isn’t enough to do here and it kills me because I was having such a great time. I could try and play the game online to get the most out of the four stages though unfortunately, no one was playing. I did notice that the world select screen has two additional worlds that are blacked out with the words “Coming Soon!” If those levels follow suit with the rest of the game, it still won’t be enough content. The mysterious release window also affects additional heroes that are hidden behind a padlock. Speaking of locks, each playable hero has a secondary weapon to choose from in the character select screen but there’s nothing to indicate how to earn them.
Any goodwill to come out Ancient Amuletor (there is a lot!) is largely ruined by a shocking lack of content. I don't know what the developer’s post-launch plans are but unless they offer the game for nothing over $5, there’s no reason to play this (admittedly) great game until there’s enough content to justify your time.
Librarian by day, Darkstation review editor by night. I've been playing video games since the days of the Commodore 64 and I have no interest in stopping now that I've made it this far.