Out now on Steam and the Playstation Store, Vroom Kaboom is a genre mashup of a game that also supports VR headsets. The PC version has support for both the Rift and the Vive, but we tested the game on Playstation VR.
Before starting Vroom Kaboom, I had little idea of what to expect. I had seen the pre-release announcements, press releases and screenshots, but still…. it aims to combine a tower rush game, driving and a card battler – all into a package that has full support for VR as well. Even now, after having played it, I’m not entirely sure what to call it.
Clearly inspired by a certain post apocalyptic franchise that features a lot of cars, Vroom Kaboom has you facing off against an adversary on opposite sides of a long stretch of road. Your aim is to destroy the other player’s pool of oil tankers, and you do so by selecting from your deck of cards. Sounds like your basic card battler, but when you select a card it turns into a vehicle and gets launched onto the road – where you assume control of it.
Driving is really more a mix of jumping, shooting and changing lanes – and plays a bit like a mobile game (such as Minions Rush) where you swipe left and right to change lanes rather than have full control over the vehicle. And while most vehicles are a variety of cars and trucks, things get a little more exotic as well – with motorcycles and scooters and even a few airborne units.
The driving itself isn’t too much fun though, mostly because it doesn’t feel like driving most of the time – and serves just as a go-between for the moments between card selection and the outcome of your choice. The controls are heavily modified and optimized when you use VR mode though, so that’s definitely a plus. Things feel even less like driving when using a pair of Move controllers, but at least it’s more fun to play this way.
Winning matches unlocks additional cards (and thus vehicles) for you to use, and there are a ton of them in the game. There’s a tactical choice involved here as well, since different vehicles will have different success rates and your choice will depend on your desired outcome for that turn. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you can even select multiple cards at once – but there’s the risk of wasting them since it’ll be harder to control them all together. You’ll encounter the other player’s vehicles on the road and will do battle with them, so you’re definitely not guaranteed a chance to plough into their precious oil tankers at the end.
For a game that mixes and matches so many different elements, Vroom Kaboom certainly doesn’t give you a lot to go on with its tutorial. This led me to believe I was dealing with a straightforward arcade-like approach, when at the same time I think the developers were going for a tactical/strategic element that doesn’t quite come across until you’ve been playing (and figuring things out) for a while – and I fear some people will lose interest before that happens.
As mentioned, the game has been optimized for VR, and this doesn’t just translate to the controls. The user interface makes great use of the wide viewing angle that VR offers, so the screen feels less cluttered than it does on a regular TV. Ironically, even though VR is optional in Vroom Kaboom, as far as I’m concerned it’s the best reason to buy the game – which is otherwise hampered by gameplay choices that somehow don’t quite gel into a well-rounded experience that’s more than the sum of its parts (and there are better driving games and better card battlers out there).