Virtual Reality has a lot going for it. Almost every genre can be experienced and enjoyed. It’s yours for the taking. The question then becomes have you done this before and would you want to do it again or is the question more of a let’s see what is presented and see how well it executes? So when Developer Haymaker Game and Publisher Winking Entertainment unleashed The Walker for the PlayStation VR, the questions I had to ask of what did I get myself into and what would I take away from it all of this were then added to the list of questions.
The Walker is a wave shooter played with both Move controllers or DualShock 4 (I went with the Move controllers as for me it felt more realistic), but with a different type of feel to it. The setting is based in old Shanghai. However, there is a problem. It seems the dead are starting to well not be as dead as we would all have hoped they would be. Playing as an exorcist, it will be your job, your sworn duty to get rid of the undead. The idea is simple, but are you able to do what is needed to complete the task? With some help, you will be.
You have firearms, weapons, and talisman that heighten the effect are all here for you to help defeat the evil that has invaded old Shanghai. The weapons such as swords are good for close-range combat, while the firearms will help with long-distance as well as close range. But what really adds some specialty to the mix is when you combine the talisman to your firearms. For example, if you combine ice with your firearm and shoot an enemy they in return will turn into ice. It really is satisfactory to watch them crumble and even get shocked, but keep in mind that the use of the Talisman is very limited but is able to be replenished the more enemies you destroy. The training here is not anything new, but I do appreciate the training presented to get used to each of the elements as it makes for the combat a little more fun.
Your firearm allows you to fire about six bullets which then you will have to shake the Move controller to reload. So as the enemies get closer you may need to switch to your weapon to help fend the undead until you can reload your firearm. But I will say is that I did get this nice feeling shooting the bigger enemies helmets off and then going for the headshot or even a making a deflection with your sword is fluent. It just makes you really appreciate when Virtual Reality and aiming actually work as it should.
What adds to The Walker are the different types of enemies. Some will craw on the walls or ceilings while others appear to be archers shooting and you have no idea where they came from. When you add archers, the crawlers, and bigger enemies all coming at you, it can get a little hectic, but maybe it is just me, but I enjoy the hecticness that is presented.
Sometimes the focus can be made on the enemies and not the environment. But in The Walker, there seems to be a nice complementary balance between enemies and the scenes. Haymaker Games have done a beautiful job with the buildings and the architecture of the representation of old Shanghai for some reason, the way it’s presented makes me really want to learn more about the history of old Shanghai.
After each stage, you are given a score based on the time it took, accuracy, and if you took any damage. Yes, you do get a trophy if you can clear a level and not take any damage. Trust me that just makes you feel good. That is until the next level you get hit and that feeling goes away so fast that this built up revenge that you were not even aware of comes over you that you then have to go into exorcist beast mode to prove a point.
I have said it before and I will say it again, immersion and sound are key in Virtual Reality. The detail in The Walker is clear and detailed. Shadows are well placed and objects do not look like they were just thrown in just because which is always nice. Each level even though it has a certain familiarity with it, goes with the atmosphere.
Being based in old Shanghai, this is not going to be in English and I think after playing The Walker I appreciate that more than some voice over. It seems more authentic and at least there are English subtitles that gives you that good action movie sense. Sound-wise you are not going to hear something that will drown out the action but will be in the background. For me when I am shooting enemies, that is my focus. It’s nice to hear certain sounds, but when they are overly loud it can sometimes break that immersion.
There are some things I wish were present. For one, height adjustments should be added as some people may want to sit or stand. I am not saying that this caused any problems for me, but it is always nice to have that option. Another thing I wish this had was global leaderboards. It screams for this and gives you a reason to keep coming back. The third thing that I would have loved to be added with The Walker is Aim controller support. Using a big sword or a shotgun of sorts would have been awesome with the Aim controller. But other than that, The Walker takes and accustomed genre while giving you the beauty of an old-time period in a welcoming atmosphere.
The Walker is out now on PlayStation VR. A review code was provided.
In case you missed the trailer, please enjoy. Until next time, I have some undead to go and take care of.