If you're a regular reader here at Opium Pulses, you might remember a series of game reviews we did in the months following the release of the Oculus Quest.
As the Oculus Quest 2 recently released around the world, we're starting a new series of reviews featuring old and new titles that we haven't shared with readers here before.
Let’s start in alphabetical order, simply ‘cause it's prettier…
We’re starting off with a big-hitter here. Arizona Sunshine was and still is to some degree the headline zombie shooter title in VR, especially considering the whole campaign is playable in co-op. Unlike most wave-shooters that saturate the Oculus Go, Rift and even Steam marketplaces, Arizona Sunshine features a full, sprawling campaign with full voice acting with linear progression dressed in open-world overalls.
The graphics have certainly taken a hit for the native-Quest version of the game, but decent lighting effects used in daylight and darkened areas sets the atmosphere well and you should hopefully be sitting zombies down before they get close enough to make their general lack of detail clear (it’s worth mentioning the graphics are vastly improved if played on the newly released Quest 2). The gunplay is where this game shines most, there’s more than enough gun variations from pistols, machine guns and shotguns (you can store up to four at once and dual-wield any combination), beautifully accurate laser sights on every gun make single-hand aiming a breeze.
You loot for ammo, equipment and food along the way giving it survival tones, nothing too deep but enough to make the progression feel more than about just trying to get from point A to B, as exploration can pay off at times. The only downsides we feel worth mentioning is the sometimes stale narration from the main character, the fact co-op isn’t cross-play (Quest partners only) and the lack of any melee weapons. Overall, it has much more to offer than the vast majority of VR zombie experiences and the addition of full campaign co-op deserves serious praise. Arizona Sunshine for us raises a solid…
A strange one this, the basic concept is you work in a mineshaft and dig for gems to fund the tools you need to mine more efficiently. You’ll start with a basic pickaxe and over time acquire such equipment as smart-gloves, power-tools, X-ray machines, dynamite and light sources to name a few, depositing gems of all colours in a chute as you go. You can even spend resources on upgrading stores and dispensers in the small town surrounding your base mineshaft.
There is something quite therapeutic and relaxing about just mining away and slowly accumulating a small fortune to buy your next upgrade or tool to ease the load. However, we’re unsure without putting many more hours in whether the gameplay branches out or not, for now, it would appear the appeal is mostly in mining away, not just at virtual rocks, but at your dopamine receptor – something free-to-play and mobile games are familiar with.
While it itches its own type of itch, it does come with some clear disappointments, the most obvious one is its lack of polish and optimisation, graphically its not a work of art and yet the game stutters, freezes and glitches at least a few times each session. I got stuck in the chute and had to teleport out numerous times despite not teleporting in it to begin with. We imagine this sort of game would be a hell of a lot of fun for the right type of person, but given its flaws and shortfalls, we can only muster a score of…
This one sure does do justice to its name! Because all I bloody felt while walking through the halls of this evil little game was pure dread! Now you might assume I’m being a bit of a wimp, and you’d be right – I tend to avoid reviewing horror games because I just can’t handle them, far too much of a control freak to let pixels have their way with my emotions! Dreadhalls marks my first step in trying more horror games and I could have picked a lot worse than this to start my journey that’s for sure.
Wandering around old stone buildings and down what should be illegally-long dark hallways, you will come across letters and figures that will slowly reveal elements of the story and its this information that is fed to you in such an exciting and explorative way that sometimes for brief seconds you can forget you’re playing a horror game. Until suddenly the music fades out as the oil in your lamp is dwindling and you hear footsteps and muttering bounce off the walls and echo around the room ahead of you, you turn around to walk back and there’s a towering statue lurking over you that wasn’t there before and even though you have an LCD screen strapped to your face, you still scream out like a puppy that’s had its paw stepped on… pathetic!
Deadhalls manages to tell an interesting and tense story while keeping the scares fresh and unexpected, avoiding the obvious jump scares of many horror titles and instead using the power of the unknown and candle-lit atmosphere to its full advantage. Our only negative would be that your running stamina runs out far too quickly to be useful in anything else besides sudden getaways. While I’m not a VR horror fan, I’d be too scared to give Dreadhalls anything lower than a…
Here we’re reviewing a veteran of the VR world, around nearly as long as some of the first commercial headsets. End Space (not to be confused with Endless Space) is a single-player mission-based game that gives you objectives that usually involves collecting cargo and/or getting into dog fights with other rogue ships, with full voice acting from your commanders to guide you through each objective.
The first thing you might notice are the graphics, they’re surprisingly decent and the visual vistas presented to you are stunning and welcomely unique mission to mission. Particularly for a quest title, this is one of the better-looking games. The controls are hard to discuss without some bias slipping in, everyone is likely going to be more comfortable with a different setup here, but I myself managed to find controls that suited my playstyle perfectly, making the gameplay following that much more enjoyable.
If you’re a space nut who loves an intense battle with beautiful planetary backdrops for eye candy then End Space might be just for you. Our negatives would mostly be little meaningful variation in mission types, lack of any multiplayer and tightly limited replayability once the main set of missions are complete. While it certainly stands strong on its own merits, it won’t be the ideal game of choice for everyone. End Space takes three shots to its shields and is left warping away with a…
Keep Talking & Nobody Explodes
In what I believe is our first local co-op game we’ve reviewed for the Quest so far, KT&NE is a fascinating little game. You might have stopped reading after “local co-op”, perplexed about how a game can be played by multiple people despite only one person being able to see the screen – we were too at first but I’ll try to explain what makes it work.
The objective, for both you and those playing with you, is to successfully defuse a bomb before it detonates. You, as the headset wearer, are the bomb defuser and your colleague(s) are there to guide you in doing so by shouting out instructions from the manual on the game’s website. Some of the directions are cryptic or involve shapes which need explaining, so isn’t always as simple as “CUT THE YELLOW WIRE NOW!”, although there is a lot of that too! Your success will come down to the ability of your team giving you commands.
Keep Talking is an incredibly tense and fun experience and can make comrades or enemies out of your friends and family after just a couple bombs, it really gives you that ‘one more try!’ feeling when you fail to defuse a bomb last second and has almost endless replayability as your experience will be totally different depending on who you play with and which role you pick. Only downsides really being is that there are no single-player modes. But just for the sheer fun potential alone, this game defuses itself with only 1 minute to spare, landing a…
Of all the games reviewed in this article, Pistol Whip took us by surprise the most. At first, the game feels like an on the rails shooter with stylised graphics and EDM music in the background, but as you play you soon start to realise that it is so much more than that. You gain higher points for every shot that you take in rhythm with the songs, but you could shoot to some random rhythm in your head and as long as you’re killing dudes and avoiding shots, you’re able to pass the level without taking a huge hit on points.
Pistol Whip is a game that shares just as much with a game like Superhot as it does with say, Beat Saber – and to be honest we think its better for it! Once you start shooting targets from one side of the screen to the other, dodging bullets and obstacles along the way, all to the rhythm of the song, it starts to feel like one long, continuous movement – almost like instinct as opposed to free will… And it feels gooooooood! Everything is so well polished and the tunes are perfectly picked to complement to gameplay, it feels like there must be some sort of aim assist (never could I be that good of a shot), but it's integrated so damn seamlessly that you actually believe you’re genuinely that badass.
Rhythm games as a whole in VR (along with social games) are really the only genre that brings me back to my headset more than a few times and I think Pistol Whip takes what we’re all used to and offers something fresh and inspiring. To top it all off, around the time this article goes live the developers are pushing out a whole new expansion free to owners of the game, just because. For that reason and hundreds more, I’m more than happy to whip this game up a score of…
Real VR Fishing
I have a complicated relationship with fishing, having spent many hours doing so as a child with my step-father, our one true bonding activity. Now while I know first-hand that fishing is an incredibly relaxing and destressing experience (until you catch a swan!), I’ve since grown to genuinely dislike the activity in all its forms, finding it cruel and borderline barbaric. However Real VR Fishing breaks all those obstacles for me and erases any need for those feelings, allowing me just to enjoy the sport again.
And boy does this game get the experience down to an art, everything from casting, reeling and the appreciation for each species down to the fine detail is just spot on. The atmosphere of each area is serene and the landscapes are vast and beautiful. Its an absolute joy to spend time sat down casting your rod and just calmly building your collection and savings to buy the next piece of equipment. Co-op makes this game even more of a special experience, as I’ve always seen fishing as one of two things, a lone getaway retreat to clear your headspace or a powerful bonding experience for you and your friends or family. Multiple servers allow you to join fishers from all around the world and just kick back with them.
Our stand-out negatives would have to be free locomotion controls being tied to just one thumb-stick (why?), the avatar creation seems just old fashioned when it comes to male avatars, with only short stereotypical hairstyles to choose from and the initial (if not all) set of fishing locations for some reason all seem to be located in South Korea, which don’t get me wrong is beautiful, but it would have been nice to pick locations from all around the world – if such locations do exist it would appear you need to work your way through the whole of South Korea before you can progress. Either way, the game is one of the best virtual fishing experiences we have ever had to pleasure to play and easily reels in a…
The Curious Tale of the Stolen Pets
While this game has high production value, beautiful graphics and a well-told story among other high moments, we’re not exactly its target audience. So, if you’re into cute, casual, puzzle games then please take our opinions with a pinch of salt as it easily could be the perfect game for you. Each area presents you with a landscape that has you solve puzzles and look for hidden items in order to find missing pets and coins, each task solved opens up more narration and brings you closer to completing that area.
Many reviews for this game explain it as what VR was made for, we totally disagree. Almost everything this game attempts to do could be done in 2D, especially when you consider that you cannot move closer or further away in each mission, you can only spin the landscape left and right and raise it up and down. And even then, grabbing the environment to spin it with movement is so insensitive it's frustrating, so you end up just using the thumb-stick. All we see are missed opportunities to utilise the extra dimensions only offered by the power of VR.
But negatives aside this game is a great little time-sink for puzzle and hidden-object fans, especially those who sit in the Disney fan camp, as it has a very Up! feel to it. The characters feel almost claymation and each world location feels unique and fresh, keeping the visuals from getting stale. This was a tough one to rate given that it's not really ‘our thing’, but simply because we don’t feel it justifies you strapping a block of plastic to your face to enjoy in full, we’re giving it a…
Not enough games use time control, least of all VR games, and that’s a shame, ‘cause Time Stall shows how well it can be done if used correctly. With a Portal-esque theme and humour, Time Stall is intriguing even before the meat of the game begins. The objective for each mission is to save robots called “Bobs” from being harmed, you have a few minutes during which time comes to a complete halt and you have to manipulate the room and items around you to secure their safety when time resumes to normal.
Unlike many puzzle games, Time Stall allows you to save the robots in numerous ways and you could likely save them all just by chucking stuff around the room! Some objects such as batteries and keys etc are hidden and will help secure areas of the room for you, but it's up to you to find where these may lay. Overall, it’s a very fun and quirky little game that offers something new to what most of us are used to in VR.
Our small list of negatives includes struggling at times to pick things up off the floor as your hand hits the real-life floor before it hits the virtual one! We played seated (as we believe most VR games should have the option to, at least puzzle games anyway) but before each mission we had to arbitrarily walk to the centre of the room to hit start, despite having free locomotion controls, begging the question why they force you to walk anywhere at all? Aside from this Time Stall is a nice way to spend a spare half an hour and only looses 9 minutes to score a…
This is a really hard title for us to review and is difficult for us to talk about without a little sadness. Wands is one of the first truly cross-platform, online PVP virtual reality games – and by cross-platform we mean REALLLLY cross-platform, players can match up against anyone on a silly amount of headsets, Daydream, GearVR, Oculus Go, Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift, PSVR, SteamVR, Viveport, Mirage Solo and I imagine more that we’ve missed out, can all play against one another. So that should mean its impossible for the servers to be empty, right?
Unfortunately, you’re wrong. We’ve tried playing Wands online on our Quest a few times over the past year and never found any strangers to match up with. It’s possible that we’re searching at bad times in the day but with all those headsets there should be hundreds of players. Looking at the statistics on Steam, it seems like the record number of Steam players online at once was seven, yes seven, and that was three years ago.
But we’re reviewing the game, not its audience and that is where we have nothing but good stuff to say. The general concept is that you play as wizards with various wand and spell upgrades to unlock as you rank up. You battle one-on-one against either AI or human players, teleporting around the map to dodge incoming attacks or to flank your enemy. The gameplay is fast-paced and exhilarating, particularly against a hard AI or a friend you’ve planned to jump online and play with. The game released in 2016 and the devs are still pushing out large updates as recently as a month ago, that’s a level of dedication that more developers could do with. For its intense, tactical online matches and cross-play support that rivals most if not all other online titles, Wands wields a fair…
Are you interested in buying an Oculus Quest 1/2? Which games pique your interest the most and are there any you think we should review?