The gallery shooter genre is perhaps the most prolific on the newly released Gear VR, with the likes of Bandit Six and Romans From Mars 360 making it look relatively easy. Imgnation’s Dodge This VR has all the right ideas to compete with these title, but falls at the very first hurdle: being fun.
The player is in direct control of a slow-firing cannon and tasked with taking out pirates as they attempt to leave their ship and reach your flag, crossing a pathway the stretches the length of your field-of-view. The player competes against increasingly difficult waves that throws out a great variety of enemies, eventually opening up new paths for them to travel, adding enemies that fight back and much more besides. On paper this is a great formula, but Dodge This VR handles at such a slow pace with unpredictable firing arcs that it simply doesn’t warrant the investment of it’s competitors.
This is a definite shame, as Dodge This VR features one of the most rewarding progression systems yet seen in the genre. Each of the videogames 3 stages (each with a different difficulty level) offers an in-level progression system the demands specific actions be completed, such as hitting 5 power-up crates or achieving 10 headshots on box-wearing enemies, and achieving all 3 will boost the player’s level offering access to better weaponry. These weapons can then be purchased using in-game currency collected by hitting coins or special coin-dropping enemies. This creates a gameplay loop that is nothing short of compelling, but the interim between achieving a new level and gaining access to new weaponry is nothing short of disappointing.
The power-up system offered in-game is welcome, but also flawed. The player can store up to 3 power-ups at any one time, such as a boxing glove fired from their flag that hits every enemy directly in front of it or a hedgehog that can be launched via the cannon and explode in a shower of spikes damaging all enemies in the vicinity, however the commands to execute these on the Gear VR’s built-in touchpad are less than perfect. Circular motions clockwise and anti-clockwise, swipes forward, back, up and down may seem like the perfect solution, but it’s difficult to remember all the different inputs and the power-up they relate to, occasionally resulting in the player using an unintended power-up at the wrong time.
Dodge This VR is also sub par visually and aurally. Chunky character models and bright backdrops are often pleasing arrangements – especially on mobile formats – but in Dodge This VR they’re simply without any memorable charm of their own. Its uninspired and drab and best, irritatingly blocky and unexciting at worst. Of course, Dodge This VR doesn’t suffer from some of the framerate issues many other early Gear VR launch titles succumb to; it would simply be a crime to do so with this graphical quality.
It’s a real shame that Dodge This VR suffers from such an uninspired basic formula, as layered on top is a wonderfully addictive progression system. The root level gameplay and visual design are simply too weak to support it however, leaving Dodge This VR as a misshapen misfire that can’t compete with the enduring competition in this genre. The hope is that Imgnation will give VR another stab with something more inventive, but as it stands their first effort is decidedly lacklustre.