Gungrave VR Review: Iggymob Should Be Ashamed To Have Released This
The PS2 shoot 'em up Gungrave has been resurrected yet again, but this time the unholy necromancy that brought it into the realm of the living clearly went horribly wrong somewhere along the way.
There's no way to sugar coat it -- this is hands down the very worst VR game I've ever had the displeasure of playing. From the baffling camera angles to the extremely half baked gameplay to the boring, by-the-numbers music, there is almost no redeeming value of any kind to be found here.
Without question, this will be remembered as the bottom of the barrel for PSVR games.
So why did Gungrave VR score a 2/10 instead of a 1/10? According to Gameskinny review standards, a 1 is a game that doesn't work and can't be finished. Sadly (very, very sadly) Gungrave VR is a stable, functioning game that can be played beginning to end, so a 2 it is.
A Case Study In Truly Bad Game Design
Nominally an action game, Gungrave VR's levels shift between extremely limited third-person arena-style levels and on-rails first-person shooting. In either type of level, your undead gunslinger will take on waves of drug dealers, with the occasional giant robot for good measure.
The only praise I can muster for this game is to say that some of the bosses have interesting anime-based character designs, and the comic book aesthetic is sorta fun from time to time -- but that's where anything good officially ends.
Developer Iggymob made every possible mistake you could when developing a virtual reality game, starting with the lack of Move controller support.
Since a large portion of the game is in third-person, there is absolutely no sensation of being in the action, which is the whole point of VR. You are looking down on the main character in third-person but you aim his gun with your head instead of the stick, which is unbelievably awkward.
You'd think since this is a DualShock controller-only game that you'd have full range of movement and camera rotation like in any worthwhile action game, right? Wrong.
You can't smoothly swivel the camera with the stick as expected. Instead, you flick through four different angles one at a time.
This is just straight up godawful game design for a fully 3D environment where there are enemies surrounding you in waves. Can you imagine trying to take on a group of opponents in God Of War or Darksiders if you couldn't ever see behind yourself?
The camera essentially uses the single panel flip movement from The Inpatient, which was acceptable there because it was such a slow-moving first-person game. Here, in a third-person action title, its the kiss of death.
Why On Earth Did They Do ANY Of This?
Virtual reality games don't have to always be first-person. Moss and Astro Bot Rescue Mission both clearly showed that third-person can work in VR -- it just stunningly fails in every possible way here.
Despite the limited camera angle rotation, I still constantly felt like I was going to fall down, throw up, or possibly both at the same time. Even when standing totally still, you will lose your balance due to the awful point of view flips.
Worst of all, the actual action isn't that fun. The core gameplay is bare-bones, by-the-numbers shooting in extremely tiny levels.
The experience doesn't improve in the first-person segments either, where the game becomes even more limited and boring. None of this is helped by the incredibly dated, bland visuals and laughably bad explosion effects. It seriously feels like playing House Of The Dead or Area 51... on the Sega Saturn.
Every single element of this drek feels like the developers totally missed the whole point of giving a game VR support. Frankly, Gungrave is a worse experience in VR than if it had remained a standard action/on-rails arcade hybrid with no virtual reality support to begin with.
The very sad part is that none of this needed to happen because we've seen all these elements presented in PSVR games with much more grace before.
Blasters Of The Universe, for instance, has you remain mostly stationary like with Gungrave VR, but you dodge bullets flying at your head while getting the heft of a gun and shield in both hands due to the Move controllers.
Gungrave is the opposite of that dynamic, picking the worst possible VR design decisions at every step.
I Cannot Overstate How Awful This Game Is
- The game is mercifully short
- The anime-based character designs for the bosses are occasionally interesting to look at
- The worst possible combination of camera and controller choices for a VR game in the entire history of VR games
- Boring, bare-bones enemies and levels
- Laughably bad visuals
- Do you like feeling like you're going to throw up due to spinning too fast while you are standing perfectly still? Because you're going to feel like throwing up due to spinning too fast while standing perfectly still
Remember Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad on the Xbox 360? It was a terrible game with wonky controls and awful level design, but it had jiggly bikini samurai girls to oggle, so there was some small amount of reason to keep playing.
Picture that, but with worse controls, no eye candy of any kind, and you'll be on the verge of throwing up for the entire (blessedly short) duration of the game.
That's Gungrave VR -- a game that flat out should not have been released. Shame on you Iggymob.
[Note: The developer provided the copy of Gungrave VR used in this review.]