By – Jarrett Riddle

In Verbis Virtus Review He3

Have you ever found yourself screaming at a game, trying to get it to do what you so desperately need while the character on the screen stands around looking clueless? In Verbis Virtus developed by Indomitus Games gives you just that outlet, combining a voice recognition system with conventional first person exploration. Venture into an ancient temple and learn a mysterious language to solve various puzzles while avoiding dangerous creatures and obstacles. Will this experience leave you shouting into your microphone, or at the screen?

The game opens with our protagonist awakening in a strange desert clutching a silver amulet. Just as the setting comes into focus, he passes out once again. As consciousness is regained, it’s realized that a legendary temple whose very existence has been doubted lies ahead. After the player takes control and goes inside, runes are activated on the ancient pillars in the main corridor that grant the knowledge of the Maha’ki. Throughout the adventure, more phrases of this language are acquired, allowing the real-life player to speak into a microphone and cast a variety of useful spells.  As the story progresses, it is remembered that the amulet you possess is not only the source of your new-found magical power, but also the last gift received from a loved one named Leif. Using the power of this supernatural ability, you hope to eventually find your way back to Leif and restore their life.

Throughout the adventure, more phrases of this language are acquired, allowing the real-life player to speak into a microphone and cast a variety of useful spells. While In Verbis Virtus features some intriguing puzzles and layouts, the main attraction is its use of voice to control the casting of spells. The speech recognition system works surprisingly well most of the time. It was a pretty big thrill for me to chant “Lumeh Tial” for the first time and see a brilliant luminescence fill my palm. Though later on, when the game forces you to be very quick about memorizing and saying the phrases, the protagonist will often fizzle out the spell or cast the wrong one, which can end in a frustrating death.

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Effects and spells include a portable orb of light, telekinesis, and a fireball attack. Every ability is useful and often mandatory to progress through the increasingly-difficult caverns. Some minor platforming will come into play as well, testing both the player’s memorization and coordination skills. Such acts include moving floating stones to hop across a pit and balancing yourself on a statue to prevent a beam of light from shining onto a wall.

Hints will sometimes be cryptically hidden in texts found within the temple, offering subtle clues as to which spell should be used to overcome the next challenge. These include entries like old stories about how a rising sun “lit up all” which hints at using your light orb in a certain area, and how an otherworldly creature in a room was once known to be a helper, giving the idea that this hostile enemy can actually be used to your advantage. These excerpts are extremely intriguing, and do a decent job of giving a brief history of the location as well as providing assistance with certain brain teasers.

I can not honestly say, however, that the game is perfectly optimized. To get a smooth framerate, I switched from 1920×1080 to 1280×768, used medium details, and toggled some additional effects off. The game still looked outstanding, but I feel that I should’ve been able to run it at a higher resolution. Graphically, In Verbis Virtus is quite beautiful. Boasting the power of the Unreal Engine, each crystal-filled room sparkles brightly, tiny flecks of dust and magical energy fluttering about to give the setting a mystical, alien tone. Video options are accommodating, offering a plethora of resolutions and optional settings such as dynamic shadows, bloom, and real-time reflections. The latter looks particularly impressive, reflecting an amazing amount of detail from ceilings and walls onto floors and water.

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Aside from a mic, the game also makes use of the keyboard and mouse. By default, the typical WASD configuration moves you around, while holding the left mouse button prepares for a spell. The keys are fully rebindable and controls are fully Xbox controller compatible. Music is mostly ambient which fits the setting, while sound effects are somewhat minimal; Objects hoisted around with telekinesis make no noise when falling or colliding with other things.  While the game looks nice, and the controls are acceptable, there were several problems. Before I even entered the temple and was wandering the desert outside, I hit several invisible walls. While not a game breaker, it is an annoying distraction that is prevalent throughout the entire game. More importantly, near the very beginning there’s a pitch-black tunnel that I needed to traverse in order to learn the light orb spell.

My first time playing I completely bypassed it and continued deeper into the temple, only to hit a brick wall in a crystal room when my journal told me that I needed something else to proceed. After running around for what felt like forever, I theorized that a bug was somehow triggered, prompting me to start over again. This time I managed to find the hall after fumbling around for a while. “That was kind of a bad start, but now things will pick up,” I told myself. Unfortunately, there were several more instances of necessary areas/items hiding away in dark and obscure places later.

Most times, the player isn’t really given any direction or reason for doing what they’re doing. If super close attention isn’t paid to every single room, something tucked away in a corner may be missed and halt all progress when a later area is reached. Beyond sometimes being told that you need something that you don’t have, there aren’t many hints to steer you in the right direction. Now, I’m all against hand-holding, but I believe there should be direction in a game, even if somewhat unclear. Most people are likely to start referring to a walkthrough if enough time is spent running around not knowing where to go or what to do, which is a solution I admittedly surrendered.

Puzzles fall mostly into two categories: light beam and ridiculous. Bouncing a streak of light across reflective surfaces isn’t a new concept, and the first couple of rooms involving it are decently fun. It gets redundant quickly, however, as you’ll come across quite a few of them, with each one getting increasingly less entertaining. If you’re anything like me, you will most probably end up reading a walkthrough when arriving at an altar a little ways into the game. Spoilers: to progress, you must stare at the ground and walk slowly up to the altar, then look up. This prompts another “passing out” cutscene and allows the story to continue. This isn’t the only situation where the solution to a problem doesn’t really feel like a solution at all.

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Conclusion – Is it Worth Your Money?

Those last few paragraphs were a little harsh, weren’t they? I certainly mean no disrespect to the developers, and I think there is great potential in combining voice recognition with adventuring elements. Unfortunately, lack of direction, obscurity of puzzle solutions, and questionable design decisions keep this title from being worth $19.99.

In Verbis Virtus Technical Summary:

In Verbis Virtus Review Sum

  • Time Played – 10 Hours
  • Widescreen Support – Yes
  • Windowed Mode – Yes
  • Resolution Played – 1280×768
  • Bugs/Crashes Encountered – Few
  • DRM – Steam
  • System Specs – 3.7 GHz AMD A10-6700, 768MB Radeon 8670D, 8GB RAM
  • Control Scheme – M/KB, Xbox Gamepad, Microphone
  • Saved Game Location – Steam\SteamApps\common\In Verbis Virtus
  • Acquisition Method – Review Copy
  • Availability – Steam
  • Demo – No
  • Version – 1.0.2344

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