After previous releases for the Oculus and Vive, VR Invaders is now available for Playstation VR owners – unleashing the game onto its biggest audience yet. What does it have to offer them?
Judging from the title, my guess with VR Invaders was that I’d be playing a VR version of Space Invaders. Although that’s not exactly the case, VR Invaders is very much a retro kind of arcade experience – easy to understand, hard to master, relatively short, but addictive while it lasts. It also happens to be a great little VR title that goes beyond the typical shooting gallery titles we saw so often in the early days of VR.
Despite being a fairly one-dimensional game, VR Invaders does feature a story mode that stars you inside a sci-fi version of a ‘rescue the girl’ kind of plot. It adds a tiny bit of extra polish to the game, but the story is so forgetful and detached from the actual gameplay that you’re not missing much if you decide to fast forward through it – there’s a big chance that you will do exactly that on your second playthrough as well.
The game is controlled with a set of Move controllers, and revolves around a simple control mechanism – one hand shoots, the other hand controls a shield. There’s more to it as you hit upgrades and activate temporary boosts, but those are the basics. Since Playstation VR doesn’t do much in the way of room tracking, you’re mostly stationary – but there is so much going on around you that this never felt like a bad thing.
Dividing the game up are eight different levels in which a variety of enemy waves will come at you from different angles and in different formations. When things get too hectic, you can activate a slow-down power that helps you get rid of a number of enemies while time freezes – but it’s a power that takes a long time to recharge. It’s also especially helpful during boss battles, when you can use it to take down a boss’ helpers or focus on specific areas. This adds a tactical element to the game, which is another element frequently missing from similar titles.
Visually, the game is comparable to another excellent VR shooter for the Playstation VR headset: Lethal VR. It has a completely different visual theme and style, but the visuals are crisp and give you a real sense of being in a location that’s physically far bigger than your own gaming room. In the case of VR Invaders, this sensation is further enhanced by the vertical dimensions of the arenas you fight in – these are massive rooms in which you have to defend yourself.
VR Invaders’ biggest flaw is that there isn’t too much too do besides the story campaign. You can hunt for higher scores (or ‘more stars’) in the story mode or tackle levels outside of it in the arcade mode, but it’s unlikely to hold your attention for months or even weeks on end. Luckily, it’s also a game that’s easy to get into and show off to friends who visit, so there’s lasting appeal there. For what it is, it’s a great effort with plenty of polish for its asking price.