There’s no denying that we’re not short of virtual reality shooters on the Playstation VR these days. We’ve got titles like ‘Lethal’, ‘The Brookhaven Experiment’, ‘Pixel Gear’ and the upcoming ‘Farpoint’ gracing the system to name just a few, so those who want their shooting fix certainly have plenty of choice. The latest release in the genre is VR Invaders, a wave-based shooter that sees you bringing down countless robotic enemies across a cyber landscape. There’s a twist though – you aren’t armed with just firearms, but also have a player-controlled shield that can protect you from enemy gunfire. It’s this shield mechanic, alongside the competent shooting, that makes VR Invaders such a fun experience.
There is a story behind all of the shooting in the game, with VR Invaders putting you in the shoes of a Hacker that utilises virtual reality to blast away viruses found in computer systems. However, the story is… well… a bit naff. It adds a bit of dialogue to each level and includes an introduction, but in honesty it did nothing for me. The fact that you’re able to freely turn off the story segments from the main menu suggests that the developers recognised it wasn’t up to much too. You’ve got to appreciate their effort at including some sort of narrative behind all of the shooting, though thankfully they seemed to have put most of their time into ensuring VR Invaders’ gameplay was enjoyable.
You’ll need move controllers to play VR Invaders, with one controller used for your gun and the other for your shield. It’s all run of the mill stuff if you’ve played any other virtual reality shooter before, with all of the action taking place from one spot with enemies coming from within a 180 degree range in front of you. From this side of things, there’s nothing on offer that you wouldn’t have seen before – the game’s tracking is on point, whilst the robotic enemies are good fun to shoot down.
The screen will quickly get inundated with incredibly hostile enemies though, with bullets flying at you from all directions. This is where the shield comes in handy. From the outside it’s easy to look at the shield as just some gimmick – I mean, the use of a shield is pretty common in a video game, so there’s nothing that new to it here. HOWEVER, having free control of it to protect yourself from incoming fire was incredibly fun in-game. Imagine shooting at enemies in one direction, but then having your arm frantically moving around in the other direction to shield yourself – ok, I’m sure on paper it doesn’t sound that exciting, but when you’re in the heat of the action in something as immersive as virtual reality and pulling off slick manoeuvres like some kind of action-movie star it’s so satisfying.
VR Invaders constantly keeps you on your toes with a plethora of enemies coming your way in huge groups until you eventually face off against the boss of the level. The enemy variety was a bit bog standard though; whilst some look different, they never felt all that different. It doesn’t matter too much because you’ll be fixated on just shooting them down, but everything could feel a little too predictable at times. Still, there’s difficulty in the sheer volume of enemies, so there’s plenty of challenge to be found in the game.
Fortunately there are plenty of neat power ups to give you the advantage, with new weapons being the highlight. You’ll get extras like a machine gun, shotgun, and even a powerful laser – they only last a short while, but using them is both effective and a lot of fun. You also have the ability to slow down time for short periods, allowing you to blast away at plenty of enemies or get the upper hand on any incoming fire with your shield. The mechanic works well and adds a strategic element to the action that mixes up both offensive and defensive play.
There are eight different levels to play through in total, though these are easily completed in under an hour. Each level generally feels different to play across, though gameplay doesn’t vary up too much; it’s just a case of keeping on shooting enemies until you’ve cleared them all out. You do get ranked on your performance at the end of each level though, so those who like chasing high scores will have some incentive to replay through them. However, there aren’t any online leaderboards, so disappointingly any competition for points is kept local.
At least there are different difficulty levels on offer though, so you can keep coming back to face VR Invaders’ levels with a more challenging twist – some of these can be pretty intense too, so don’t expect a pushover. There’s also a Survival mode to play through which lets you take on endless enemies, whilst the Shooting Range allows you to practice until you get pinpoint accuracy. In honesty neither of these modes offer that much longevity, but their addition adds something extra for players to have a crack at after mastering the main levels.
Whilst VR Invaders doesn’t offer too much you wouldn’t have seen before, the fact you get to use both a gun and a shield at the same time was incredibly satisfying. I loved the excitement of shooting away at enemies in one direction whilst blocking incoming fire from the other; it made for some tense action sequences that ensured the game constantly entertained.
A lack of variety in the game modes and the short running time let VR Invaders down though. It’s a lot of fun to play, but it’s a short lived experience that doesn’t offer much for you to come back to. Still, it’s enjoyable while it lasts and it’s something I’d certainly recommend Playstation VR owners check out – just don’t be surprised if you’re done with it in a couple of hours.
Release Date: 18/04/2017
Format(s): Playstation VR (Reviewed), HTC Vive, Oculus Rift