Megaton Rainfall is a virtual reality (VR) videogame that at first seems very easy to dismiss. Graphical issues plague every moment of the opening section, gameplay is restrictive and the action is lukewarm at best. But then it does something wonderful; it makes you feel powerful. All the errors of the opening 30 seconds are washed away when you suddenly realise what Megaton Rainfall is actually all about.
Making its PlayStation VR debut at PlayStation Experience, San Francisco, last week, Megaton Rainfall is an indie title that’s been slowly working its way into the public consciousness after being under the radar for quite some time. Indeed, it was back in February of this year when VRFocus first covered the title, and yet this PlayStation 4 outing was the first opportunity offered for a hands-on preview of the videogame. Thankfully, despite the initial disappointment, the resulting opinion is largely positive.
Megaton Rainfall‘s bum note begins as you start in space. Played from a first-person perspective, you are taught the basic movement controls as you zoom-in on London, travelling through the stratosphere, sky and eventually down to the skyscraper rooftoops to tackle the alien invaders attacking the city. The visual design of Megaton Rainfall shows it’s patchwork aesthetic as the first card in its hand – never a good idea, even as a showcase of technology over gameplay – but once down to ground level fighting the extraterrestrial bad guys things get a little better.
The gamplay is fairly simplistic at present. You have one combat ability, a laser bolt, which can be fired repeatedly with only a second interval. You must target the red indicators on enemy craft to take them down. This begins simply, with small UFOs each having one large red target, but soon develops into a complex series of chasing moving targets and timing perfect shots.
It’s once Megaton Rainfall starts demanding the player move across the city that it truly makes a play for a standout VR experience. You are, for all intents and purposes (bar licensing) Superman, ably capable of scaling huge distances in seconds, rising high into the sky and racing back down to earth with ease. A flick of the right analog stick snaps your view 90 degrees, and doing so too often will bring a warning on screen. The team at Pentadimensional Games has clearly worked hard to minimalise potential issues surrounding simulator sickness, and seem to have already figured out most of the issues this high-speed flight simulation could have.
Unlike most VR demonstrations given at present, Megaton Rainfall was actually presented with a very real possibility of failure. A meter on the left side of the player’s field-of-view represented the amount of damage the city had taken, and when the bar emptied a checkpoint restart was called upon. Of course the enemies would be damaging the city – bigger foes taking longer to align their shots, but also doing significantly more damage – but the player themselves could also be a harmful presence. Wayward shots of high speed dashes into buildings can cause just as much damage as that of the alien invaders, and so the player would often have to weigh up speed and accuracy over safer gameplay.
Megaton Rainfall undoubtedly still has many issues to overcome, not least in the way of its visual design, however even at this early stage it is a fun, empowering VR videogame. Exactly what the plans for the extended gameplay loop of Megaton Rainfall are – whether we’ll see over cities come under attack, different enemies and perhaps even co-operative multiplayer – are not yet known, though VRFocus is keen to learn more about Pentadimensional Games’ plans after this first visit.