Nowadays it’s very difficult to complain about the lack of virtual reality (VR) content. Every week there seems to be at least one new release across one or more headsets, so much so that it can be hard to keep up. Last year Mixed Realms launched a cyber ninja experience called Sairento VR via Steam Early Access which VRFocus never got around to playing, so with the title due to fully launch in January 2018 it was high time to see what the experience had to offer.
Videogames where you get to play a ninja tend to fall into one of two categories, either really stealthy where you climb atop roofs silently killing enemies with shurikens and a blade. The other is full scale arcade carnage, where subtlety goes out the window in favour of a bloody rampage. What they do have in common are particular skill sets like wall running, climbing ridiculous heights like player were Spiderman. This type of dexterity can be difficult to achieve in VR, yet Mixed Realms has seemingly managed it, alongside some arcade carnage.
There will be those of you already well versed in Sairento VR, but for those who aren’t, the title could well turn out to be one of those hidden gems purely for the movement system alone. First a little backstory, you find yourself in a futuristic Japan as a member of the Silent Ones – a covert organization that still follows the code and martial arts of ancient samurais and ninjas.
So at your disposal are a mixture or weapons and abilities with which to vanquish your enemies. To begin with you have hip-mounted pistols, swords located over each shoulder and a sub-machine gun located on the small of your back, so very well tooled up. These can be swapped out for bows, glaives, and other assorted weapons as you progress on your own, or fight it out in multiplayer.
Having this selection at your fingertips is all well and good, but without some kickass moves Sairento VR could fall foul of being another first-person shooter (FPS) with some melee options. Luckily this isn’t the case. In fact, Mixed Realms has turned locomotion in VR into some sort of art form, an aerial ballet of death if you will. At its heart Sairento VR uses teleportation, a system widely used in VR yet rarely advanced. Yet here you could almost call it teleportation 2.0, such is the inventiveness used.
Short distances feel more like a dash, while a greater distance will create a bigger arc, at the top of which you can jump again for greater range or to avoid enemies. Aim the teleport at a wall and you can either wall run or jump up the wall to reach a higher ledge. Every time you do this the teleport counter will reset effectively meaning if you have the space and time it right you don’t need to come down. Plus there’s a brief slow-mo function which is handy for dispatching bad guys whilst whizzing about.
All this means that Sairento VR offers the kind of fluid gameplay rarely seen in VR. Of course this system might not be for everyone, and could cause nausea in some, however it was a very comfortable experience. Now VRFocus isn’t saying Sairento VR is a perfect VR experience – the environments were fairly bland and repetitious, and enemies didn’t seem to foster a high IQ – with improvements still to be made, but for shear gun toting, sword wielding fun, Mixed Realms VR experience is a worthwhile contender for a space in your library. When the full experience arrives VRFocus will bring you a more in-depth assessment of Sairento VR.