Now Playing: In Verbis Virtus (2015)

Hm. A wizardy game with nice looking environments and effects and a gimmick of spells being activated by voice commands? Sure sounds interesting. Looks nice enough for an Unreal 3 engine game. Hm. Voice commands seem to work pretty well, though I feel like an absolute asshole saying made up fantasy words into a microphone, even though no one is watching.

Yawn. Game’s getting kind of boring. Pretty level design, but there sure does seem to be a lot of just walking around and not all that many puzzles. The puzzles you do find are pretty simple and standard, but quickly fall into a very annoying and repetitive pattern. What happens is you find a puzzle, if you have the necessary item you solve the puzzle, then you get a new item/spell that can solve the next puzzle… except the next puzzle is not in the next room. Instead, in the next room is a barred path with a different puzzle that you eventually figure out needs an entirely different new item. The next puzzle you need is all the way back on the opposite side of the map. This is not a simple matter of walking down a hall either, this means you have to redo the moving platform sequence you just did, climb back up the cliffs you just came down, and every other environment-related puzzle/hazard and respawned annoying bug enemies that you’ve already finished several times. So you slowly make your way all the way back there and solve that puzzle and hooray you win access to another locked room and an item you need for that previous unsolvable puzzle back where you came from. It just goes back and forth like that for a while until you finish the area.


There was one particularly annoying puzzle in there too, where you reach a dead end with nothing around but some weird rune that you need a spell you don’t have to do anything with and a little alcove with an eye statue and an altar that is hinted at being useful somehow. If you were being thorough you will have found a document that is supposed to give the solution to this. It tells you that you need to approach slowly, with respect, and with your head bowed, and only then can you gaze upon the eye and blah blah blah. So you look down and walk in there and then look at the eye. Simple, right? Nope. Doesn’t work. No matter how you try it, following the exact steps given does nothing and there doesn’t seem to be anything at all that can be activated or interacted with in the room. Turns out it left out a very important step, that when you look up you need to aim your reticle directly at the pupil of the eye statue and then press the button that you would normally press and hold to enter a voice command, so essentially you have to press the microphone button to activate a device in the game (and no, it’s not the same button that you use to interact/activate things) and why the hell would I ever think to try something like that with no hint at all that I should? Hey great , now you get magically teleported to Magicka McSpaceTits though, who gives you the spell you need for that rune (which leads to a dead end! Yay!).


Once I got the Telekinesis spell I thought maybe things would improve, because I like me some good physics puzzles, but it actually turned out to make things much worse. Suddenly the game decided that most times I wanted to use this spell, I actually wanted to use the Light spell, even though their phrases sound nothing alike. Also, many times the spell would just fail to grab something I was looking directly at, from a very close distance, even when it was recognized. So at this point I’m sitting here having to say this phrase over and over again just to pick up one damn block. It gets old really quickly. The final nail in the coffin is that the physics are incredibly clumsy and don’t seem to really interact with the environments they’re supposed to very well. Example: puzzle wants me to place a gem in the right spot for it to be hit by a beam of light and block the light from hitting another gem to open a door . The former requires that a gem be placed on a little moveable column. Sounds simple enough, but there is actually a ridge all along the floor right in the exact place you need to put the column, so if you try to put the column there it just tips over or starts spinning around in your glitchy telekinetic grip. The latter I tried over and over to find the right spot to place a column to block the light and there just wasn’t one available. Maybe if I stacked both columns on top of each other? No, you need one to put the gem on and there’s nothing else moveable in the room. So…? I ended up getting out on accident by just jamming the second column into the wall where the gem was until it got trapped inside the wall somehow. Cool design, bro!


Anyway, I tried pressing on a bit more after this, but another broken physics puzzle soon appeared and I’d had enough. I never did get to really try out the combat or see any of the supposed bosses even after 1/3 of the game (not counting the really awkward encounters with little swarms of bugs that you have to shoot light at badly until they die somehow), but after reading up on the game some more since, it sounds like that would have been pretty bad too. It all seemed like such a good idea in theory, but other than the visual design, there’s not much to like about this game. Even with the best of intentions and ideas, I just can’t enjoy a puzzle game that’s this sloppy. I give it 1 fluorescent glowing space nip out of 5.


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