The American Dream VR Review

It’s a rare thing that a VR game makes a meaningful political statement while still holding onto the fun of a well-done VR experience. Samurai Punk has done exactly that. As the battle over gun control rages in the United States, The American Dream presents a thought-provoking satire of America’s firearms fetish. Part political cartoon, part mini-game collection in a “before the fall” Fallout wrapper, this VR title is definitely one you don’t want to miss. This is our American Dream review. 

The premise is simple: here are key moments in the ideal American life, presented in a guided tour by our loving and good-willed gun manufacturers. Set in an idealistic 1950s aesthetic, the presentation just screams Fallout, before any of the post-apocalyptic catastrophes strike. Waking as a baby, you’re taken from moment to moment, guns in hand, to see an America composed of cardboard cutouts and narrated by a dog, where guns are used for literally everything.

For most of the game, you won’t even have hands. You’re Edward Gun-hands, sometimes with pistols, sometimes with SMGs. If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “a gun sure would make this better,” for example when opening a beer, then you’re there’s a good chance this American Dream is for you.

It’s ludicrous of course, but it’s that silliness that makes the game so much fun – at least for a while. I tested the game on the HTC Vive and the controllers feel great standing in for in-game guns. Shooting is, if you’ll excuse the pun, a blast. Whether you’re shooting burgers to flip them on the grill and blasting a screen to send the “order up,” or blasting a pigskin out of the sky for some good old American football, shooting feels good.

There’s a clever subtlety to the game. What initially begins with a lighthearted flair takes on a darker tone by the end without beating you over the head with its messaging. As a VR experience, I found it to be quite effective. As a four hour game, it draws on just a bit too long.

Given that the game’s is based almost entirely on shooting, there’s a repetitiveness that sets in about three quarters of the way through the game. The fun wanes but since the game is brief, its impact is lessened. Even through some of the game’s more creative moments, like a dual pistol dance-off at your high school prom (a setting which immediately made me nervous given the wave of school shootings being reported in the U.S.), there’s a shallowness that underscores that this is a game as a statement versus a game that’s meant to be returned to again and again. It outdoes many other political VR experiences whose game mechanics are outright poor but it’s clear as much time was spent on its messaging as its gameplay.

TL;DR: Don’t look to The American Dream as an example of deep fulfilling gameplay. It’s fun but experiential.

At the end of the day, even though The American Dream may not offer the deepest gameplay, it does offer one of the better VR experiences this year. It’s a game that can’t be taken as any singular part; it’s more than a satire and more than a mini-game collection. It’s a statement and a joke and an open question about the ideologies we carry with us. It’s worth experiencing. 

Note: Our copy was provided by PR for review purposes.

Final American Dream Reviw Score: 7/10

Pros
  • Guns feel great
  • Wonderful aesthetic
  • Subtle tonal shifts alter the atmosphere
  • Makes you laugh and makes you think
Cons
  • Some may find it too short
  • A touch repetitive
Written by
Chris cut his teeth on games with the original NES. Since then, games and technology have become a passion. He currently acts as the Hardware Editor for MMORPG.com and GameSpace.com.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Lost Password

Please enter your username or email address. You will receive a link to create a new password via email.