In Verbis Virtus

This review was originally written for WalaWala Games.
A free copy of the game has been provided in exchange for an honest review.

 

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Break Up
Game: In Verbis Virtus
Genre: Action, Adventure, Indie, RPG
Developer: Indomitus Games
Publisher: Meridian4
Release Date: Apr 3, 2015
Platform: PC / Windows 7
Overall rating:  6/10
Graphics: 8.5/10
Controls: 8.5/10
Level/Puzzle Design: 7/10
Sound: 6.5/10
Story: 7/10
Replay Value: N/A
Community: N/A

 

Review

Notice: A microphone is required to play this game. Also, nerves of friggin’ steel.

Welcome to a land of magic. You are a wizard in search for a strong, ancient power for reasons I will not spoil; but to get to it, you will have to explore the temple, solve its puzzles, and battle unspeakable evil! That last part is more annoying than exciting, by the way.

In Verbis Virtus is, in essence, a fantasy RPG halfway between puzzle and action. Do not that you are required to own and use a microphone in order to play this game, for that is the whole point of it. As a wizard, you will be doing the spell casting via voice commands. That’s right, that means the game depends on a voice recognition system. That could only bode for fun and frustration, right?

But lets take it one thing at a time! Because in order to play the game, I had to be able to open the game, which in itself was a puzzle. I have no idea why, but the game alternated between crashing and freezing; probably something related to the resolution.
On the upside, In Verbis Virtus has a “safe” mode that opens it in a window on super low res. On the downside, that it has a safe mode because you may need to use it to get into the game is kind of a sad state. Once I was able to start it without crashing, the game ran fairly well only getting a bit choppy when entering a new area for the first time that day.

Visually, the game is quite stunning. even in low settings it didn’t look as bad as other ‘better’ games do, so there’s something to be said for that. The music was really nice too, and what voice acting there was (to show you how to pronounce the spells and in cutscenes) was… I wouldn’t say good, but it wasn’t bad either. The ambient sounds left something to be desired, however, though they weren’t too bad. The fire for some reason sounded fairly similar to the critters, and while I’m guessing the idea of keeping a semi-constant critter-like noise in the background was to keep you on edge, it became annoying as you couldn’t be sure when they were actually coming for you unless you’d been in the area before.

The game mechanics are pretty nice. Controls are basic: you jump with space, move with wasd, use mouse to aim and look around, shift to run – there is no ducking, however. In order to cast the spells, you interact via voice. Just aim your mouse at something, click and call out the spell name, and release your click. The spell will be cast. To stop the spell, right click. There are checkpoints that auto-save when passing a chapter, and save points spread out through the game, not nearly close enough to what I’d normally like, but not too far apart either. I just like to save every time I accomplish something, I’m obsessive like that.

Surprisingly, the voice recognition system works fairly well, and it has plenty of ways to be used. In the game options you can choose to cast the spells in English or the made-up language of the game, Maha’Ki, I went back to try them both (though my original playthrough was in Maha’Ki) and both worked pretty well. There was the occasional moment where a spell wasn’t cast, which included times such as slightly panicky, rushed casts for getting my ass kicked by enemies, the infuriated “I’ve said it three times already, would you please cast it??” rushed casting, and the “I clicked after I started casting” casting. But overall the spells cast 99% of the times, and when it didn’t, it was user fault.
Within the voice recognition options you also have the choice to record your own words for the spells. Now, I didn’t try this, but I can only imagine it can be great fun, and it’s a neat option to have.

As for the puzzles themselves, some are easy, some are hard, some are really not overly intuitive kind of hard, but for the most they were fairly good. Until, that was, you reached a timed puzzle. Really now, why would you do that to me? Is casting and running and casting while running not hard enough that you have to put the time limit so that we barely make it?
There was quite a bit of backtracking to be made from some of the puzzles to other parts of it, which would have been much less annoying without the critters roaming around, but I can overlook that since they had pretty scripted areas in which they appeared and paths they followed, so they were entirely predictable.
All in all, I was pretty content with the puzzles except for the timed ones, and then I was a slightly less happy camper until that was over.

I knew there’d be some fighting when I went into this game, I just didn’t expect them to be that annoying.

Now, your mileage might vary, but I feel like the greatest downfall of this game is precisely that: the fighting. Ahhh… what can I say about it other than I completely hated it, and it got me stuck in each encounter I had to the point where I didn’t get to finish the entirety of the story because of it. I got completely stuck, not even because I didn’t know how to beat the bad guys, but because they were so friggin’ annoying, and casting while trying not to die while trying to time something else was just not my thing. The very first fight you encounter is not just a fight, but a bit of a timing puzzle as well, and I seriously spent way too long trying to pass it, to the point where more than once I considered quitting right there. I didn’t. I quit further ahead, but I still quit.

Could this game have done well with fighting? Yes, if enemies had been defeatable via actual fighting spells, as opposed to trying to make them puzzly-difficult for the sake of making you use the several spells. Now, don’t get me wrong, while it could have been “fun” to fling an enemy across a room with my spell to stun him before putting a fire ball on his face (note: you get a fire spell, and then an explosion spell, not a fireball spell, making it even more annoying), you can’t really base the entire experience on the player’s timing skills with juggling 3 different spells in a moment of heated combat. Particularly if the enemy isn’t even a boss.
I feel like maybe if casting spells hadn’t been dependant of you clicking, calling out, then releasing the button to get it to actually cast, and it would have just recognized voice commands without the need of any clicking (and unclicking) in between, it would have made things much easier and I wouldn’t have been quite so frustrated with it all.  I can see where they wanted to go with the fights in terms of creativity, I just feel like it wasn’t well handled, or just… didn’t belong in this particular game.

As it was, most the fights I came across were just annoying and brought down the entire experience for me.

Bug wise I didn’t come across anything very obvious, except for the problems I had getting it to start and the occasional crash which happened mostly when I started a game, usually before I even loaded a save. But there were some crashes after as well. They really added to the frustration.

There’s little else to be said about In Verbis Virtus, I wish the puzzles would have been more open, giving you a chance of using various of your spells in order to complete it creatively, instead of “here is this rune or button, so this thing requires this particular spell while you stand in this particular spot.” (The fights suffered from this too; certain enemies required certain particular series of spells, except for the occasional one “easily” defeatable with fire, which still took two spells.)
You don’t need mazes and hours of backtracking to make good puzzles, you just need to give the user more creative ways to solve it in a single room.
I also wish there would have been a “no monsters” option, it would have made my experience much more enjoyable. I could’ve probably done with just the critters and a final boss at most.

In all, Indomitus has made of In Verbis Virtus a pretty decent puzzle/adventure game with a really, really excelling voice recognition system and with lots of potential to be had that, for me, was ruined by the forced fights.

TL;DR: Good game, decent puzzles, lots of fun with voice spells! Did not like the fights at all (your mileage might vary – they’re more annoying than difficult and I lost patience fast), got stuck because of them, ragequit for my sanity. XD
Would I pick it up again? Probably, but not anytime soon.

Overall Rating: 6/10

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