If I was ever worried about a lack of PSVR content, the first few months of 2018 have put that fear well and truly to bed. Lately, we’ve seen some excellent ports from flagship studios, and intriguing concepts by courageous indies. Blasters of the Universe falls into the second camp, as a madcap bullet-hell that’s straight from the 80s. This is our Blasters of the Universe review.
The form behind this retro rampage is Toronto-based Secret Location, but Blasters isn’t a console-native. However, after finding success on Steam with the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, it made logical sense to bring the shooter to Sony’s platform. Even so, the experience feels right at home on PSVR, as long as you’re prepared to climb off the sofa.
Blasters of the Universe opens up with a short slice of gaming backstory, rendered in the pixelated point-and-click adventure style of the early 90s. After dominating his local arcade, a neighbourhood jackass sneaks in and steals their latest virtual reality booth, uploading himself in the process. Now Lord High Mucky Muck of his own digital domain, the player (aka: you) has gone in to take him down. Cue waves of mobs, some boss fights, and some occasional taunts from the antagonist-in-chief. Simple.
Like a Spielberg-directed gaming movie, Blasters pulls from a range of influences with casual abandon. Monkey Island, TRON and Lawnmower Man have all inspired different parts, either in the opening sequence or mob and world design. Even 80s kids cartoons got a look-in, with Crown Prince CringeMaster delivering his mediocre insults with more cheese and ham than Subway at lunch hour.
Putting all that to one side, the gameplay in Blasters of the Universe is surprisingly solid, as long as you have the space to handle it. The bullet hell in Blasters is based on enemies taking pot-shots at your head, so as long as you duck under or dodge aside, you’re golden. Plenty of space is also needed to swing your arms around, as two PS Move controllers are used – one to aim the blaster weapon, and one for a temporary shield. It all adds up to a fairly active experience that tests your body movements as much as your button mashing.
Blasters of the Universe is also easy-going on the motion sickness. By having static scenery, there’s no movement that’s not directly linked to your head motion, although you’re encouraged to stand up and pivot or duck as needed. Even so, dancing around like a USB-powered Daft Punk isn’t going to guarantee success.
While it’s possible to mix things up – Blasters offers the ability to modify your blaster gun and shield in numerous ways – the overall game is fairly short. There are two difficulty settings, plus an endless wave mode, but the core experience only stretches over four levels. While that might cause me some worry, Secret Location is offering it on the PlayStation Store for $15, which is fairly typical for a VR game offering around 5 hours of content.
Overall, Blasters of the Universe is a solid addition to Sony’s PSVR line-up. The shooting is satisfying, the boss fights are challenging, and the tracking and animation are spot on. Yes, it’s a little on the short side, but the replayability is there. If you’re looking to build on your console-based VR collection, this is definitely worth considering.
- Great, physically active gameplay
- Customisable weapons
- Amusing retro styling
- Annoying voice acting
This review was completed with a key provided by the publisher.