Developer: Mad Triangle Games
Publisher: Mad Triangle Games
Release Date: 26/09/2017
Format(s): Playstation VR (Reviewed), HTC Vive, Oculus Rift
We’re not short of wave-based shooters on Playstation VR at the moment, though I really don’t mind; I loved lightgun games back in my younger years, so naturally I’m loving being able to essentially re-live my youth over and over again by feeling like I’m actually shooting at enemies. I get to do it in VR too, which is even more impressive. Put me up against zombies, terrorists, bears, skeletons – honestly, as long as I can shoot it, I’m happy.
DWVR is the latest game in the wave-based shooting genre to hit Playstation VR, putting you in a series of showdowns against a variety of monstrous foes. It adds a bit of a change by allowing you to freely move around as opposed to sticking to fixed locations like a lot of similar games tend to do, but for better or worse it’s still more of the same you’d expect from the genre.
There are three different levels in the game that are set across four difficulties: easy, medium, hard, and extreme. Having just the three levels was actually a little bit disappointing, though to the game’s credit it does remain fun to play them over the tougher difficulty settings. You get ranked at the end of each level depending on your performance too, so high score hunters certainly have incentive to return – even if there aren’t any online leaderboards to compare your scores with other players…
Each level effectively plays out the same though, with the player simply working through five waves of varying enemies that eventually culminates in a boss battle. Each enemy offers something different too, with some being armed with melee weapons, some long-range weapons, some carrying shields, some spawning other enemies – you know, the usual for this kind of game. Whilst they’re varied in style, they aren’t necessarily varied in their look with them typically consisting of Skeletons or some futuristic evil marine-like foe.
It’s all very simple, but it works; I enjoyed ploughing through enemies, with each of the three levels offering something a little different in their design. DWVR does nothing particularly special, but it’s fun. It didn’t really have too much of a lasting appeal though – I think I saw everything that the game really had to offer in under an hour.
You can play the game using one of three different control schemes: the Playstation Aim controller, Playstation Move controllers, or just the Dual Shock controller.
Naturally, my favourite was the Playstation Aim controller, with the two sticks making it a lot easier to navigate across each level. It also gives you access to special two-handed guns, which actually feel a lot more powerful to use in-game than the one handed options. Those who suffer with free-roaming locomotion will be glad to see that they can still teleport when using the Aim controller too, though to get the best experience with the game I’d probably recommend running around freely.
The Move controllers offer their own advantages though, with the player able to dual-wield weapons as well as use the incredibly over-powered sword weapon. Like, seriously, all you’ve got to do is a tap at the enemy when using the sword and they’ll fall into a heap instantly (or hilariously fly across the map if you hit them with enough force). You can even hit incoming bullets back at your enemies when using the sword, though it’s a little bit difficult to do effectively – it doesn’t stop it being incredibly cool though. Dual-wielding is fun, especially when using a combination of a sword and a gun, but unfortunately using the Move controllers restricts you to only being able to navigate by teleportation, which isn’t the most effective way to play through the game.
Both control schemes are viable ways to play the game, even if I did slightly prefer playing with the Playstation Aim controller thanks to the free movement. You get free movement when playing with the Dual Shock controller too, but in honesty it doesn’t really feel right using it to shoot in-game. It’s a useful addition if you don’t own any motion controllers, but in honesty it doesn’t really make DWVR a fun experience to play.
Outside of the three levels there are a few extra unlockable modes, such as the ‘Target Range’ where you shoot at targets (duh) and the ‘Drone Assault’ that sees you taking on wave after wave of drones as you look to achieve the highest score possible. They add something extra to the game, but in honesty I would’ve just preferred a few additional levels to play through.
There’s a lot to like about some of DWVR’s visuals, with the surroundings in particular reminding me of the many haunting locales you visit in Dark Souls with their impressive gothic architecture. They’re all gloomy and dark, with huge statues and cathedrals standing over you as you blast away at enemies. There’s a good sense of scale to them too, and they all left me impressed when working through the game.
Character models on the other hand are a little so-so, as are their animations. You’ve only got to see a Skeleton jump in the game to realise that maybe the visuals weren’t at the forefront of the developer’s plans when making the game. Still, nothing is outright ugly, though your surroundings are certainly the highlight.
The audio could be a bit of a mixed bag too, with music seemingly completely absent from the game. I thought I could hear some ambient noise in the background on one level, but I’m not too sure if it was just the groans of my enemies instead, though…
However, what it’s lacking in music it certainly makes up for in sound effects. The surround sound features of the Playstation VR headset are used efficiently, with the player able to hear what direction the enemies are coming from and just how near or far they might be. It’s particularly effective when you hear the scream of an enemy who happens to be right behind you, which not only alerts you of their presence but will also make you crap your pants a little too.
Whilst DWVR generally runs quite well, I did run into a few issues when the screen was full of enemies. It’s not that the game slows down or anything, but rather that it seemed to get a little confused – enemies were spawning all over the place, and some in areas that I couldn’t really access. It wasn’t a common issue, but it was strange to find that I couldn’t shoot at some enemies because they were in odd locations.
The AI could be a little sketchy at times too, with enemies not always wanting to put up a fight and instead seemingly running away. Now I can appreciate that maybe (just maybe) the enemies wanted to plan out their assault on me and were simply hiding for cover, but these were melee-focused Skeletons who were only armed with swords. Running away from someone armed with a gun might not necessarily be the best idea in a situation like that…
Still, I never encountered any issues that would really ruin the game for me. There were just a few oddities that can probably easily be fixed by the developers. DWVR is far from perfect, but it’s definitely stable.
DWVR isn’t the best wave-based shooter you’re going to play on Playstation VR, but it still offers plenty of fun. In fact, if it had a few more levels it could really be something special, with the huge gothic environments in particular standing out as one of the highlights of the game.
As it is though, DWVR a little bit too simple in design to be deemed a must-own Playstation VR shooter. There’s certainly a lot of potential there and if the developers keep supporting it with patches and new content I can easily see it growing into a great little title. For now though, it’s just an average shooter that despite doing enough to keep you entertained for a couple of hours, probably won’t keep you coming back for more over the long-term.