First-person shooter (FPS) videogames that feature zombies are some of the most consistently produced experiences for virtual reality (VR) headsets. Either gamers just love popping those heads – it can be quite fun with a shotgun – so developers are just catering to popular demand, or creators are running out of ideas. It’s likely the former as the zombie genre just doesn’t seem to be getting old anytime soon, but trying to come up with something that’s unique and fresh becomes ever more difficult. The latest to crawl onto Samsung Gear VR is Death Horizon by Dream Dev Studio, which has the hallmarks of an enjoyable experience, it’s just missing some substance.
Death Horizon takes places in the secret Horizon laboratory where a deadly virus has broken free, turning all the employees into ravenous flesh eating monsters. To save humanity you need to explore the dimly lit, blood splattered corridors to find the station’s reactor and stop the virus spreading.
Compatible with either the Gear VR controller or the touchpad, Death Horizon is essentially an on-rails shooter, where you move from point to point killing hordes of enemies at each location then move on. Armed with a trusty 30 clip assault rifle, it’s a case of shooting these walking corpses as quickly as possible before they start munching down on you. Controlling the guns aim with your head is fast and accurate with a nice solid feel to each gun shot. Reloading happens in two ways, use up all of your bullets and a bar appears showing reloading is in progress – it only takes a couple of seconds or so. If you’re using the touchpad however reloading requires a downward swipe which works most of the time, but at points mid battle it would activate leaving an opening for enemies to attack.
So FPS titles like this are all about guns, lots of big over powered guns. Well Death Horizon does have more than the assault rifle, with a shotgun and a heavy machine gun available, it’s just these can only be picked up if you happen to spot them. The shotgun appears the most – with the machine gun only turning up around three times – however there are points where you wish you hadn’t, as you can’t move its short range is very limiting – especially when the spitting zombies appear.
One thing that’s very noticeable about Death Horizon is its lack of inventory or options in any form. The extra guns can’t be stored, they’re one use only, so when the bullets are gone that’s it. There are no upgrades or anything else for that matter, so apart from following the set linear path and popping heads there’s nothing else to do.
The core gameplay and visuals in Death Horizon are really good for a Gear VR title, it’s just a shame the experience is so short lived with nothing to keep you coming back. There’s one point towards the end where the path splits and you’re offered two routes – they both end up in the same place – it’s this sort of variety Death Horizon really needed throughout, being able to wander around the laboratory to uncover more gruesome hostiles. Death Horizon is trying to compete with titles like Drop Dead, Dream Dev Studio need to expand the experience more to make it a true contender.