I’m always willing to try out a new shooter on PlayStation VR, especially when it comes with as intriguing a premise as The Walker does, but I’m starting to get to a point where I expect more from them. We’ve seen plenty of wave-based shooters on the platform since its launch and with quality titles like SUPERHOT VR, Doom VFR and Farpoint raising the bar, other shooters have to do something a bit special to really stand out.
Whilst The Walker is decent enough to play, it doesn’t really have that something special to help it stand out. Instead, it feels like a lot of the other wave-based shooter on the platform – a bit repetitive and uninspired.
I’ll be honest, my initial impression of The Walker was a good one thanks to its intriguing introduction sequence. You’re in your apartment and open a mysterious book that causes strange going-ons to occur. Suddenly, there’s a creaking noise above you and a strange robed figure makes his way down your stairs to you. I was on edge at this point and ready for a fight (or to yelp at a jump scare), but it turned out that he was an ally and was just there to say that I was going to become an exorcist that fights off evil demons. See, now this is why people shouldn’t open weird books!
It might not actually sound that thrilling, but honestly, it set the game up so well and had me excited to see what was going to come next. Unfortunately, the rest of the game didn’t live up to the ominous opening…
The Walker feels just like a basic wave-based shooter, which is a bit of a shame – the intriguing opening suggested there was going to be a lot more to the game, but instead I found myself feeling a little underwhelmed. You’ve got the typical formula of either using the DualShock or Move controllers (recommended) to blast away at enemies that march their way towards you from all directions.
You’re limited to just a pistol to shoot with and a sword to strike out with – the sword never felt satisfying to use though thanks to its lack of power and range. You’re able to apply enchantments to your weapons thanks to some special scrolls that you’re carrying too, but the ice and lightning abilities they offer don’t really excite all that much either. You can unlock additional weapons once you’ve cleared the game, but they again don’t bring much variety to the experience and just feel like slightly modified versions of the game’s base weapons.
Don’t get me wrong, it might seem like I’m hating on the game immediately but nothing about The Walker felt particularly bad in any way – there was just nothing on offer that I haven’t seen done before (and better) in other releases. PlayStation VR owners have an absolute abundance of wave-based shooters to play, so one with a lack of weapon variety or any unique gameplay feature just doesn’t really cut it anymore, whilst the fact that you’re fixed to just the one spot and can’t actually explore each area doesn’t help either.
The game is pretty short, with my first run through taking less than an hour to complete. There are only five levels in total, some of which are shorter than others (I cleared one in less than five minutes), and there’s not much of a challenge to face during your first playthrough of the game. In fact, I can’t really remember a time where an enemy posed any kind of threat…
After you’ve finished it once you’ll unlock new difficulties to play through which offer a bit more of a challenge, but there wasn’t a whole lot to The Walker that motivated me to go through it again. Sure, you had new weapons, but even they didn’t feel all that different. I wish the developers offered the additional difficulties from the get-go because the medium difficulty is a heck of a lot more entertaining than the game’s initial easy mode, but by the time I got to it I’d already experienced everything that the game really had to offer.
At least The Walker was a decent looking game, with some interesting environments to shoot across that feel genuinely creepy. There were some neat atmospheric lighting effects on show too, whilst the enemies you face off against look great – they’re all based off Chinese monsters and myths, and they made for a really original (and even frightening) cast of foes. One actually made me jump the first time I encountered it thanks to how it seemed to come from nowhere when I was turning in-game, so it definitely shows that The Walker nails its creepy vibe well.
There’s some gloomy sound design in place too, which worked incredibly well with the PlayStation VR’s surround sound. At one point I could hear these ominous footsteps coming from a specific direction and it genuinely creeped me out – I kept looking that way expecting some nasty creature to arrive. It did and it was eerie as heck, but it was the fear of the unknown that the sound offered that made it more exciting in-game. Don’t expect any music during levels though – that must have hit The Walker’s cutting room floor…
Publisher: Winking Publishing
Release Date: Out Now
Format(s): PlayStation VR