Augmented Empire Review (Oculus Go)
For the purposes of transparency, this review was created using a code provided by the company or their respective PR company. The use of a review code does not affect my judgement of the game.
When I visited EGX Rezzed back in April this year I stopped by Coatsink and tried out Augmented Empire. While there I asked about this coming to Oculus Rift, and the team informed it would only be mobile based. Which I thought was a shame, as I did not plan to invest in mobile VR. But, now I have the Oculus Go, what did I think after more time with the game?
In the game you are going to be over throwing an empire based on social status, while sewing a tale of trust, friendship, and dealing with loss. It is set in the city of the New Savannah, where the good citizens are like royalty and the rest a made to live in poverty and squalor. Meaning you are going to be taking the power back, and giving it to those who deserve it.
The game is essentially a turn-based tactical RPG and does not bring much outside of that genre – however, bringing into VR really worked in my opinion. Augmented Empire’s turn-based system is a simple one, making it very easy to pick up never mind your previous experience with this genre.
There is not a set way to take on the combat sequences, they leave it open to you take it on how you want. But, you are going to have to plan ahead for when it is not your turn. You are going to have to use your turns to try to get clear shot on an enemy, but also need to make sure you have ample cover for when it is their turn. Think of other games in this genre like XCOM and you have the idea of what you’re facing with the gameplay.
Once you are in position for your shot or even taking fire from your enemies, this will open up a quick time event. In both cases you will get bar on the screen, where you will be required to stop a line within a set block. Depending on how clear your shot is or how open you are to an attack depends on how many outcomes they can be from the quick time event. While attacking you can get critical or normal hits or miss completely, and while defending you can either evade, get grazed or a take a critical hit. At the start you are going to have to expect to miss and number of your shots and take damage, as you get used to the speed of these quick time events.
Over the game you will come across six characters, all that can be controlled, and they all come with their own skills. These are controlled by a skills wheel, and have to be used strategically in battle because they have a cool-down time. Using them sparingly, will ensure they will be there in those tense moments of combat when you need them, or else you could be caught short.
When it comes to how the game is presented I feel the team at Coatsink took the correct approach. The game is played using the third-person view that works so well with the genre of the game. But, the way they have made it work in VR is giving you a view of the whole play area via an overhead angle of what I can only describe as a stage.
However, that is what makes it work so well, because it does not restrict the gameplay in any way and works well with the format. It also gives the full view of this beautiful cyberpunk world, that brings each part you will visit to life – be it the more run down dystopian areas or the more upper-class jazz lounges. Not only does you allow you to take in impressive visuals they have managed with the hardware, it also allows them to tell the story in a very performance art way. The way the story is engrossing and told it really suits the feeling you are taking this on a stage – also enhancing the storytelling with its presentation.
But, the visual presentation really leaves me with one wish, that you take in the beautiful cyberpunk city in first-person as well, even if just when exploring and not in the battles. They also bring this world and setting to life with high quality audio, using a synth techno soundtrack. All the audio is very high quality from the music, to the voice work which was very easy to understand.
The game is best played seated, especially because you a likely to put some long play sessions due to its engrossing storyline. The control system works perfectly with the Go controller, it is all just about point and clicking, to move around when inside or outside of battle. You will just need to move the marker around with your head and either press the trigger or touch pad in to get your character to move. While in battle you move the same way and select the enemy you want to attack, then stop the quick time event with the trigger. In order you use your special ability you just need to select your character in battle while looking at them and this will open the wheel. It really is a control system that does what it needs to without over complicating things, and perfectly designed for the mobile VR platform.
The game comes with twenty-six missions, and you will take the six characters you get to control around sixty different environments. Overall you will looking at around ten hours of gameplay to get through the campaign, which is an impressive time for a VR title. Also I really see myself revisiting it again in the future and taking in this engrossing storyline for a second time. But, even if you feel you can not revisit it for £7.99, you are getting a fantastic game at a fantastic price.
Augmented Empire brings a turned-based tactical RPG to the mobile VR platforms, and makes it work really well. Bringing with a decent and easy to grasp combat system, a beautifully designed setting in New Savannah and a really compelling and engrossing storyline. For what you are going to pay for the title and the amount a playtime and enjoyment it offers, if you have mobile VR this is certainly one you should add to your library.
Also available on Gear VR
Developer: Coatsink Software
Buy on the Oculus Store