Blasters Of The Universe Review (PSVR)
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.
Blasters of The Universe has made it’s way over to Playstation VR, bringing with a wave shooter with a huge difference. So, does the fresh take on a popular VR genre make a good game?
Firstly, something that is different in Blasters of The Universe to other wave based shooters the game brings a story with it. You are a blaster who’s job it is to take down Alwyn. Who is Alwyn I hear you ask?… Alwyn is portrayed as your typical stereotype of the 1980’s geek, who is a loser in real life but a master in his local arcade. This is where the story comes in, Alwyn’s local arcade brings in VR, and in Tron-esc style Alwyn manages to transport himself into this arcade machine. In this world he has control over countless minions. So, it is now your job to enter this machine and take down Alwyn.
This is where the wave based shooter mechanic comes in, of course as you would expect Alwyn is going to use his minions to try to stop you. Now, this all might sound a bit samey at the moment to what is already on the market, but let me explain the main difference.
Do you remember those side-scrolling Bullet Hell games? Well that is what Blasters of The Universe throws at you but in VR – but your head replaces the genre typical ship you would usually control. This also brings with the huge amount of projectiles that the old style games used to throw at you also. Meaning there is some tactical thinking needed when playing the game, because leave enemies too long and the amount of projectiles coming at you will soon be unavoidable.
Meaning it leaves the choice to you, do you look at taking out the smaller less powerful enemies or the larger enemies that create more projectiles first? You really need to consider your actions and in most cases switch this up at times – even though the larger one produces the most a group of smaller ones firing them at you from all different angles will make them just as lethal. This is just the start to the tactics, more come in as it comes to avoiding these projectiles.
As previously mentioned your head is the only target on the game, meaning this is what you have to protect. There is two ways of doing this dodging the projectiles or using a shield. However, you shield can only take so much damage before it is disabled, meaning it’s not just a case of the holding the shield up over your head. Making the dodging mechanic equal to or even more important than the use of the shield. Each enemies projectiles will come at you in a number of different patterns, so learning the best way to dodge these becomes a real skill. At the same time you will also have to make sure other projectiles aren’t coming at you from another direction.
What is your reward for defeating his minions and reaching the end of each stage? A boss battle. As with the bosses of old in these sort of games, it is going to be essential you learn the bosses attack pattern – which will change throughout the battle as their health gets lower, and the difficulty gets harder. But, the slow motion explosion and the parts flying everywhere upon defeating one is certainly satisfying.
The final part of the tactics comes with the customisation of your blaster, this can help you more and more as you progress. You will get a number of interchangeable parts for your weapon, which will unlock as you move forward in the game. You can then mix and match these parts to make the gun of your choosing. Meaning you make a more powerful gun which bullets may travel a little slower, or a more rapid one which the bullets hit more immediately but do lesser damage. The gun customisation is really going to be your friend and help with the difficulty the game brings with it. It can be a little trial and error until you get the correct gun for the stage you are facing, but this is not much of an issue with Blasters of The Universe.
The reason for this is, although the games difficulty is punishing from the first level to the last, the team at Secret Location have made the game just as addicting as it is frustrating. Depending on the difficulty level you chose depends on how many hearts you are given, on casual you get five on hell you get four. Each time you are hit you lose a heart until you fail, and like the recent hit title Cuphead you are placed back at the beginning when you fail. I found that when I died although at times I could feel a little frustrated (especially when dying on the boss), I still had that one more go attitude and jumped straight back in – showing the although I was getting frustrated I was still having a barrel load of fun playing this game.
Given the 1980’s bullet hell feeling the game play brings, they have taken the correct approach with the presentation, by bringing that 80’s sci-fi look with it. The levels are very much like they have been pulled out of an 80’s cheaply made futuristic movie with all the brighter tints to the levels in the neon like colours and the design of the virtual minions. Then they add to this the synth like music that perfectly suits the game and the worlds you are placed in. Yes, the worlds are all bit open in design, but given the amount of the projectiles coming at you and the size of the bosses this is really needed to keep a clear view on what is coming. Lastly they have added the sort of robotic voice of Alwyn who is constantly taunting you, and making many references to the 80’s pop-culture at the same time. This really adds to the immersion of the setting of the game, and really drags you into these worlds.
Blasters of The Universe can only be played using two Move Controllers, one that controls your gun and one to control your shield and reloading your gun if using a clip. As you would expect the one you use for your gun, you will only really need the trigger to shoot. When it comes to the other control the trigger will bring up your shield or place them depending on your customisation choices, and the move button will give you a new clip if needed – which you then just move to towards the other controller to reload. I really think it was important the game came with a simple control scheme because you really do need to keep and eye on what is coming at you.
Other than this the game can be played in either a seated or standing position, both do work well and tracking is responsive both. However, I found standing is the most effective way to play the game for the dodging, as this made it a lot easier. The game really did make me work up a sweat like Superhot VR, as I found myself ducking, weaving and sometimes jumping to dodge the projectiles – especially in hell mode as the sheer amount of projectiles can result in constant moving.
When it comes the length of the game this really comes down your own personal skills. The game ships with four worlds, with the aforementioned two difficulty levels. At the moments I have spent about three and half hours in the game, and got through them on casual, but only through world one on hell mode. But the game opens so much more for replay value when you have got through the worlds, this starts by the number of combinations you can make from the gun parts, so you can revisit the worlds and play them in a different way.
Then the team have added endless mode and leaderboard’s to the game, with the most challenging one and the one will give players bragging rights being the endless mode leaderboard. Lastly, they are bringing weekly challenges to the game, with the current on being kill fifteen airborne enemies in the quickest time. Meaning Blasters of The Universe gives you plenty of reasons to load it back up.
Blasters of The Universe brings with it a unique take on the wave based shooter genre, which is something we have not seen since Superhot VR. The team at Secret Location have made a game that is the perfect balance of frustration and fun, and totally addictive at the same time. With a main enemy you will love to hate for the torrent of abuse he will throw at you, to the gunplay and the dodging you can tell the team knew what they wanted to make. The best thing about it all is they have executed it all perfectly, and in turn have given a genre that was getting a little dull a blast of neon light.
Also available on HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Windows Mixed Reality
Developer: Secret Location