Today I’ve been able to try VRobot, a game by indie studio Luden.io that is currently in Early Access on Steam. Maybe you remember the name Luden: they’re the guys (and gals) of VR game InCell and AR game ARrived, and I interviewed them about their experience with ARKit. This is another interesting product of theirs.
When you start VRobot, you find yourself in an environment where there are a lot of objects (cars, spaceships, boats, etc…) that are all floating around you. In front of you there are some panels that explain very briefly the plot of the game: in the future, self-driving cars and robots have taken all the place in human cities, so humans had to find another place to go. There, they built an enormous robot whose purpose is destroying all the cities of the robots on Earth so that humans can reclaim their cities. Basically, you are a gigantic robot that has to destroy everything.
If you look below you, you can see a mini 3D map with all the levels you can play… that is, the cities that you can destroy to give some space to humans. This menu is very well made: from a graphical standpoint, it is pretty; from an immersion standpoint, it is cool since it is a 3D interface and not a 2D one; from a usability standpoint, it is very simple: you just grab the level you want to select with your controller trigger and the level starts; from an informative standpoint is very well conceived: it shows in a very effective way the highest score of the level and also the weapon and difficulties that you’ll meet there. I loved the menu a lot (as I loved the menu of other games like Face Your Fears and Sneaky Bears VR).
Starting a level, you find yourself inside the city you’ve chosen. Each city is different: some have more skyscrapers, some others have less; some have a big part of them next to a river, some others a little part; in one there is even the VRump tower! (It has been a feature requested by the community… LOL). The city is alive, in the sense that you can see cars moving, boats floating and little robots passers by walking all over it. The graphic is minimal: it is not a realistic graphic, more a low poly one with very simple textures, but it is well made nonetheless. Designing a good low poly graphic ain’t easy and Luden.io artists have made a very nice job.
When the level starts, the system tells you how much time you have to do the highest score possible (usually 1.30 or 2.00 minutes). From this moment on, there’s only one key world: MAYHEM! You can punch buildings and destroy them. You can take buildings or vehicles and launch them in the air to see them disaggregating when they land. Or, even better, you can launch a building against other ones and destroy all as you were playing bowling. Sometimes a building becomes bluish or greenish and this gives you some bonuses: particularly, green buildings are interesting because when destroyed, they destroy everything that is around them.
When you’re done destroying a part of the city, you can teleport to another one and continue the destruction. Movement is performed with a standard teleporting system that allows choosing the direction to face: it is a mechanism that I’ve already seen in titles like Robo Recall or The Wizards, so I found it very easy to use.
Every level has its special weapon, that your avatar will hold in the right hand. It can be:
- Bare hand: you have no special weapon, only your punches;
- Teleporting ray: you point it towards a building and it gets teleported next to you, destroying everything that encounters while it moves. Once it is in your hand, you can release the trigger and fire the building very fast as if it were a bullet, destroying other parts of the city;
- Tornado gun: generates a tornado where you point it and then lets you also move the tornado where you want. Obviously, the tornado will rip everything in pieces. This is the coolest weapon you can have in the whole game. Come one… who doesn’t want a tornado gun??
- Thor Hammer: a very powerful hammer with which destroying stuff (especially the VRump tower :D).
In two levels I’ve also found an “enemy”, that is the Robot 3000. It will try repairing the city while you’re destroying it. It is pretty annoying… if you teleport a building with the teleport ray, it will take the building and put it again in its original place. If there is this robot, my advice is going next to buildings and destroying them with punches. Otherwise, if it becomes too annoying, make it come next to you and then punch it in the face so that it will go haywire. Show dominance!
When the time’s up, you’ll hear a sound and you’ll see the score you’ve made. A gigantic EXIT door will appear inside the town, and opening it will make you return to the main menu (another nice example of a natural interface).
The game is awesome because it makes you destroy everything and… well, who doesn’t love being an enormous robot and destroying everything? the various weapons and various type of buildings are good to give a bit of variability inside the game, that this way is not monotonous. Graphics and special effects are well designed. And there are also nice features: you can take the little robots that are walking in the streets and they will start talking with you!
Anyway, nothwithstanding this awesomeness, I came out pretty unsatisfied by VRobot. Reasons are the following:
- The game is too short. In 40 minutes I’ve finished all available levels, completing all achievements. It is a bit too little for a paid game. I expected a game lasting at least 2-3 hours;
- The game is too static. In a game where I have to destroy things, I should be forced to move and destroy things giving hard punches to them. Instead, I played staying almost in the same position, just moving a bit hands to smash buildings one against the others. Weapons like the tornado gun are incredible, but when you have them, you just stay fixed in a point and move a bit your hand to point the gun towards the buildings and see them destroyed. There’s not the sensation of destroying stuff with the power of your hands;
- The game is purposeless. You have no enemy, no challenge. You can’t be killed, you can’t lose. You destroy things just for the pleasure of destroying them, but in the long run it doesn’t work. If you’ve ever played GTA, you surely remember how it was awesome to be an outlaw and going by the city killing random people, let the police chase you and then go to the Pay ‘n Spray to have a new car. But you also remember that after having done this a few times, it became boring and you started doing the game missions. This game lacks proper missions: destroying things is cool, but there should be a purpose.
The game is in Early Access, so things may change in the following times. It has a public Trello board where people can propose new features to make the game more entertaining. This is very cool… Luden.io guys listen a lot to their community. And I hope they’ll listen to these complaints and make their game better. Because if they fix these issues, VRobot can come out being a really awesome game, where you can vent all your stress after a day of hard work by destroying everything.
If you want to support these devs and you love destroying stuff, you can find the game on SteamVR for €14.99. I’m sure that the game will get better and better. I’ve seen that they’ve already substituted the timing system with a new scoring one that gives you some goals… that’s great. I’m glad to see the game is improving…
(Header image by Luden.io)