App Review: Waltz of the Wizard, VR Magic

Tola Sylvan ’17

My introduction to HTC Vive virtual reality came in the form of ‘Waltz of the Wizard,’ a VR experience designed by Aldin Dynamics.  In the game, I play the role of a wizard, commandeering my own lab with potions, spells, and secrets galore.

The visual and acoustic design is seductive.  My floating hands are etched with detail, bright against the somber backdrop of the castle interior and glowing in response to interactive game elements.  The workstation is laden with gleaming bottles and odd artifacts.  When tapped with a mallet, a multicolored xylophone sends pretty pitches into the already musically sculpted atmosphere. The cauldron steams.

Waltz of the Wizard – HTC Vive Launch Trailer

Available for free on Steam: Waltz of the Wizard is a virtual reality experience that lets you feel what it’s like to have magical powers. Combine arcane ingredients into a boiling cauldron with the help of an ancient spirit trapped in a human skull.

‘Waltz of the Wizard’ takes advantage of the surreal perceptual possibilities in VR to truly create a magical feeling.  Dropping a spell into the cauldron turns me into a giant, so I tower above the workstation in an Alice in Wonderland moment.  Another spell bestows me with 3D drawing abilities – the objects I create fall to the ground and become manipulable, reminiscent of Tilt Brush functionality.  Other cinematic moments use VR to paint lush animated scenes and transport me to different settings.  There’s always more to discover.

The game exemplifies the way VR as a new technology can be used experimentally. The design plays with a diverse set of possible interactions; players are able to explore the elements that pique their interest.  The setting is grounded, which allows players to have a sense of a home-base, normalcy, and control.  At the same time, the game pushes the boundaries of VR functionality to deliver its magic.  As the Gaspee team designs our educational VR experience, I think that we can benefit from considering about how to balance a grounded, intuitive flow while experimenting with fun interactions unique to VR – keeping in mind the ultimate goal: enhance the magic of learning.