Blasters of the Universe review (PSVR)

Blasters of the Universe may look like just another wave shooter in VR at first sight, but look beyond that and you’ll see a Playstation VR release that gamers should be excited about. Originally available as an early access title on Steam way back in the summer of 2016, it’s now made its way to Playstation.

The unique hook that Blasters of the Universe brings to the table is how it mixes the familiar VR wave shooter with bullet hell shooter elements. For those unfamiliar with bullet hell shooters, just think of the classic vertical scrolling arcade shoot ’em up and then imagine the entire screen just filling up with enemies and bullets. The “hell” in bullet hell refers to these games being tough as nails and always on the verge of being overwhelming, and Blasters of the Universe captures that feeling.

Blasters of the Universe isn’t a traditional 2D vertical scrolling shooter, of course, but rather a first person shooter. You also can’t move around freely like you would in a bullet hell shooter spaceship, as you’re tied to a central platform. That doesn’t just restrict you to shooting though, because you’ll constantly be ducking, turning and swerving to avoid streams of bullets coming your way. Compared to regular wave shooters, Blasters of the Universe offers quite the workout.

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To help you survive, you can also fall back on a shield that you wield with one of your Move controllers. Still, that shield alone won’t get you very far if you’re in the wrong spot with your body – kind of like how you don’t want your spaceship stuck in a position you can’t get out of in a bullet hell shooter.

No, even with the ability to dodge and deflect, your best option for survival is to go on the offensive, and Blasters of the Universe has a great weapons system in place. You’ll be able to use tons of different components to conjure up the weapon of your dreams – changing your play style as you go. I think I read that there are over 100,000 different possible combinations, and while not every change is as impactful as the next one, there are quite a few distinct directions for you to go in.

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Further mixing things up are different enemy types – some requiring more shots with others being tough to hit as they take to the skies. This helps because the game only features a handful of levels, so campaign-wise it’s relatively short on content. Levels all end with boss battles though, which are extra challenging and thus rewarding if you manage to defeat them. If you really enjoy some punishment (or high score chasing), then there’s an endless mode as well – and when you’re burnt out on the ‘campaign’ then there are also regularly updated challenges available.

What really sets Blasters of the Universe apart from most other VR shooters (apart from the wordplay on He-Man) is how frantic and adrenaline-fueled the action constantly is. The neon-infused sci-fi visuals definitely help capture the bullet hell feel as well, and the game performance is extremely smooth despite everything that’s going on at once. Playstation VR already has a ton of good VR shooters in different genres, and Blasters of the Universe is able to stand out in that crowd as something refreshing. It’s very challenging though, so it may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

Score: 8.0/10

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