Arasha: Castles of Sin is another brand new PlayStation VR exclusive title that was developed by Endeavor One. Here’s our take.
Over the years, we’ve found that VR does a number of things really well from a visual perspective: its ability to deliver a sense of scale and the palpable sensation of hiding in a stealth setting chief among them. Arashi: Castles of Sin focuses on the latter, casting you as a ninja assassin looking to enact revenge upon a band of warriors that have torn Japan apart while growing their power and military might.
Arashi is controlled with a pair of Move controllers, which of course comes with a few limitations. In one setup, you can use the face buttons for movement while another has you walking in the direction you hold your Move controller. Neither is ideal compared to the Touch controllers or the prototypes for PSVR 2, but the developer has done well all things considering. If you prefer, you can also enable a variety of comfort options including the ability to click-turn, so there should be a mode here for everyone.
Motion controls are more important than movement controls in a game like this though, and after your initial sword and grapple gun you’ll soon add things like shurikens and a bow and arrow to your arsenal. In addition, you can also take the high ground and surprise enemies from above, and with a good amount of ways to hide this is a game that shines when you’re engaged in stealth gameplay, using a mix of tactics and weapons. One of your possible tactics often includes your loyal dog Haru, who can cause a distraction for you or even help you attack your enemies.
There are a few melee encounters in the game as well that don’t fare as well as the stealth portions because the action doesn’t feel as responsive as we’d like and we felt much more “in control” while sticking to the shadows. Part of that must be the controls, but the Move wands generally do okay when it comes to motion tracking.
Visually, Arashi is an impressive game at this stage of the PSVR’s lifecycle, where we’re not seeing a lot of AAA studios tackle the platform. It’s too bad there are no optimizations for anything beyond the base PS4, but with diverse locations to traverse and a rich game world (that includes optional lore) the game makes good use of its shadow assassin theme – embracing the darkness with lighting effects and less of a need to draw hugely detailed elements on screen. There is some texture pop-in so further optimization would definitely help, but the overall performance is admirable. Add subtle auditory touches like atmospheric music and voice acting, and you’ve got a convincing experience for ninja enthusiasts looking to take their passion to VR.
Boss fights suffer from the inaccuracy of the melee combat, but not to the point where it ruins the game – a little perseverance should suffice in getting through what is a lengthy campaign – especially for a VR title. While many VR games struggle to clock in at more than 2 to 4 hours, Arashi: Castles of Sin easily doubles that. One of the better PSVR releases of the past year, and a good take on the ninja/stealth genre at that.