Back in March, I had the chance to try out all three of the major VR systems for the first time: Oculus, HTV Vive, and PSVR. Most of the experiences I played feel like an homage to classic arcade games, which is where I believe VR will eventually find the footing it’s been needing. However, there were some interesting developments from Time of Virtual Reality, a Chinese centered development and publishing company. During my press appointment with these excited developers, I had the privilege to try out two of their games Reborn VR on the HTC Vive and Ancient Amuletor on the PSVR. Both were games I would love to spend more time with. Let’s dissect what this team is bringing to the VR space.
For starters, I have to reiterate that it wasn’t until PAX East that I played any sort of VR gaming system. I had dabbled with the Samsung Gear VR, but never for anything more than extremely simple experiences that I wouldn’t even call games. After that weekend though, I can see why many developers are turning some resources towards the development of these games. There are some genuinely amazing things that can be done with VR, there just isn’t a big enough install base quite yet, mostly due to the higher cost of buying a VR unit. Between all three of the major VR headsets, I like the HTC Vive the best and it felt the most accurate. Yet, I would only consider buying the PSVR, mostly because of the Sony IPs on the system and the fact that I wouldn’t need a pricey computer upgrade. The ease of use with the PSVR is just much more appealing to me.
Back to Time of Virtual Reality, the first game I was put behind was Reborn VR on the HTC Vive, a flashy first-person action game, putting players against waves of mechanical samurai warriors and drones. In this game, I was told to use the beam saber to block physical attacks and switch to a pistol to hit far away targets. Simple enough, but as the game started, I began to notice just how relentless the enemies were. Using the two sabers I could attack with more ferocity, but having a pistol in one hand and a sword in the other became my main setup. Large samurai would come swinging in, but with a well-timed block with a good angle on the blade would leave them open. This often activated a slow motion visual to really dish out some damage.
Visually, the game puts me in the mind of Metal Gear Rising: Revengence, with that blend of warriors with tech and tons of glowing trims. Of course, there isn’t much moving around in this HTV Vive game, following the trend of many other games on the system. However, even if this limited space, the battles felt intense. The bright glow of the swords, the sparking when they collide, and the whiz of beam shots was all pretty exhilarating, but it did leave me wanting a bit more. The boss fight in my demonstration was pretty interesting and was unfortunately where my warrior met his demise.
The Vive has plenty of great wave-based action games already, but Reborn VR might be a cool alternative. It’s set to release sometime towards the end of the year on PSVR, HTC Vive, and Oculus so any VR gamer will be able to try it out.
After we finished up Reborn VR, I was shuffled over to the PSVR for some Ancient Amuletor, a tower defense game that has several characters to try out. Each one has their own weapon and skills, ranging from the sawed-off shotgun wielding gunslinger to the unique use of a set physical attacker with the puppet master. This game had more depth than Reborn VR, especially with all the other characters and the co-operative play. Characters stand on the tops of towers as enemies move down the lane, where they attack these crystals. Lose too many crystals and its game over.
Blasting away enemies felt awesome, as each character utilized different movements of the PSMove controller. For instance, the gunslinger can whip the controller upwards to reload. The spellcaster grabs energy from his book and then throws them like grenades to deal with multiple enemies at once. This is done by reaching the right controller to the left and then tossing it, which is a pretty natural feeling. Aside from using these characters’ skills, players can also move around the map by teleporting to other towers. If one strategy isn’t working, players can also switch characters on the fly, making for a lot of options.
The boss we faced at the end of this demo was spectacular. A giant being towered over us, swiping with his massive hands. Using the archer, I would target the monster’s weak points on his hands, while my partner took out the minions and kept an eye on things. This felt more hectic than the waves, creating a sense of tension. During this fight I was also taught how to use super powerful moves, which charge up over time. Each character has a specific attack, but I never did connect with them, often tossing them way off target or fumbling about with the timing.
All in all, I walked away from Ancient Amuletor wanting a couple PSVR units for my home. This would be such a fun game to play with a friend, making it one of the first really interesting co-op experiences on VR, at least that I have seen or heard about. The art style is really colorful and each of the characters were fun to play as. Players can even see their character’s body, which leads to an interesting view on the archer. Ahem. . .
I can’t wait to see what the full experience entails. Look out for Ancient Amuletor when it launches on PSVR. Note that players will need two PSMove controllers in order to play.
It was interesting to see this sort of approach to the VR systems. I’ve also really enjoyed the influx we have seen of Chinese developers, opening up the gaming market to tons more content. I’m not sure if I am 100% sold on VR, but I do think one of the best places for VR is in an arcade setting. Especially with the Vive, the space needed just isn’t convenient for many home owners, but dropping into a Dave & Busters for a go on the Vive seems just right. There are a few games I would love to just sink a few hours into and Ancient Amuletor would be one I’d love to have for PSVR. Maybe one day, I’ll pick up one, but for now I’ll just observe the market from the outside.
Either way, Time of Virtual Reality has some interesting projects at work and its a company that needs to be kept in mind as the VR gaming space evolves.
Find more information on the official websites.