Though it offers a very different gameplay experience from traditional mobile apps, Gear VR doesn’t seem too concerned with avoiding some of the genres that have saturated that platform over the past few years. If you play mobile videogames you may well have had enough of the endless runner for one lifetime, then, but there are a handful of these types of videogames that are worth looking over in VR. Joining them recently is Space Agent from Chesstar Studios.
Space Agent is quick and to the point, lacking even a main title menu. You boot up the videogame, choose a spaceship (one of four with marginal differences between them), select a power-up and head straight into a procedurally generated race, controlled entirely by Gear VR’s head-tracking tech.
The first thing you’ll notice is just how refreshingly bright the title’s art style is. The mainly tubular tracks consist of various pipes, beams and obstacles that give the environment a short of makeshift atmosphere, almost as if you were running through a child’s play set. It’s a striking aesthetic, even if you’re never given the chance to stop and take it all in, though it does come at the cost of a draw distance that ideally would be set a little further back and less obvious.
Steering through these environments with head-tracking is, for the most part, finely tuned. Space Agent smartly starts things off at a pace and difficulty that eases you into the experience, with obstacles becoming larger, more complex and more common as you progress. In terms of swerving out of the way of bombs and around poles, the controls work absolutely fine, though it often feels restrictive to not be able to move your head to look around the environment. That is what VR is all about, after all.
There are kinks in the system, though. Sometimes (though admittedly rarely), you’ll need to flip your ship on its side to squeeze through vertical gaps. This is done by quickly tilting your head to the left, which you’re left to figure out for yourself. It’s an uncomfortable and often unresponsive mechanic, and it feels like the Gear VR’s on board touchpad should pad been employed as an option for those that don’t mind getting their hands involved.
As you go, you’ll gather gems and accumulate points for how far you’ve travelled. Sadly, Space Agent doesn’t do much with either of these systems, only allowing you to pick more power ups for you next run with what you’ve gained. Some sort of progression system or series of goal posts could have really given this title some staying power, but as it is you’ll have little reason to return after your first few runs unless you find yourself particularly enamoured with the experience.
Still, Space Agent is a polished, enjoyable little videogame. It’s not necessarily enhanced by VR – and in fact is somewhat restricted by its controls – but could serve as a good time killer while you wait for something more substantial.