Virtual reality (VR) designed for a young age is a relatively unexplored concept. The Gear VR mobile-based head-mounted display (HMD), for example, sets a minimum age of 13 for use, though co-creator Oculus VR hasn’t cited any specific medical reasoning for this. Even so, there are a handful of developers that have released experiences for a decidedly younger age. Snow Strike from dpid.co is one such title. Sadly, the meagre amount of content on offer here combined with the all too simplistic mechanics makes it hard to recommend for anyone else.
Snow Strike is a first-person gallery shooter in which players take on groups of kids and snowmen in snowball fights. There’s no kind of movement outside of aiming with the Gear VR’s head-tracking technology, as you find yourself embedded in a snowy fortress that you must defend from incoming fire.
The core mechanic works well enough; you swipe forward on the Gear VR’s touchpad to throw a snowball that arcs in its trajectory. This means you’ll have to use considered aiming to reach targets that are further away. When enemies do fire back, you can avoid taking damage by looking down to simulate getting into cover. To Snow Strike‘s credit this is actually a compelling use of head-tracking display, putting you in the action with physical movements that mean you can’t just spam fire all the time.
Unfortunately that’s about all this brings to the table. There are seven short levels here that can be completed in about 15 – 20 minutes all told. Even for a Gear VR title it’s light on content, especially given that this is a premium product, no matter how small the $1.99 USD price tag. There’s little in the way of level variety, as targets will run from point A to B in most environments before taking a shot, though one level does feature an enemy on a sled, with others placing them atop towers.
Oddly, enemies take three shots to bring down. That would be fine if you were able to hit them in quick succession, but each hit will send them hurtling to the floor for a few seconds in which they’re invincible. It feels redundant to hit an enemy and then have to wait before you can really take them out, especially seeing as incoming fire is so rare that you can usually take out targets one at a time with little worry.
The only real challenge comes from racking up points to earn stars. Each level judges players on their offensive and defensive capabilities along with the time it takes them to clear the field. Still, it doesn’t take much to achieve a top score here.
All that said, Snow Strike is a perfectly comfortable experience that boasts a cutesy, if simplistic presentation. VRFocus didn’t detect any instances of slowdown or other technical issues when playing.
Snow Strike is far too short and simple to be worth many people’s time and money, especially considering that the only market that could possibly gain any real kind of entertainment from it is too young to use the platform it’s appearing on. dpid.co’s Gear VR debut is comfortable one but wholly unambitious. For a premium product, no matter the cost, there should simply be more here.