Review: End Space
It’s had an Oculus Rift makeover, yet the Gear VR DNA remains.
It’s always nice to see indie developers spreading their wings, bringing their titles to more platforms and as such a wider audience. Orange Bridge Studios first launched its space combat title End Space for Samsung Gear VR back in 2016, before expanding platform support to PlayStation VR last year. Now it’s the turn of PC-based head-mounted displays (HMDs), with the Oculus Rift version now available and HTC Vive getting a copy in February. Like any title that comes to the more powerful headsets from mobile the question is whether than port is worthwhile, making use of the extra grunt on offer.
It’s fairly easy to tell from the outset that End Space originated from a less powerful platform. Things like the intro – although cinematic – and main hub are quite sparse, with access to minimal upgrades and options. The title has obviously been tweaked for Oculus Rift, offering Oculus Touch and gamepad input options depending on preference – or when you purchased your headset.
As a cockpit-based flyer the gamepad seems the most likely option but Orange Bridge Studios has done a decent job of mapping all the control options to the motion controllers. The sticks control yaw, pitch and roll yet at the same time there’s the option to use one Oculus Touch controller – you can switch between left and right – to encompass all these movements. Whilst it feels weird at first – especially as both input methods can be used simultaneously – having full control just by using the motion controller becomes very intuitive through prolonged use, and certainly when combined with the option for gaze gun control.
End Space is a single-player affair, with a linear storyline that puts you in the pilot seat of the Minos Starfighter from the United Trade Consortium, tasked with protecting the company’s secret jump-drive technology from Tartarus Liberation Front insurgents. Most levels are fairly short affairs, averaging around five mins each, so it’s good that there’s a fair few of them. Completing each area gains you credits to upgrade the ships guns and missiles – there’s nothing for defence – so you can always go back and replay missions to improve your time if you so wish.
The studio has done an admirable job of upscaling the graphics for the Oculus Rift version. Sure it doesn’t look as good as a made for PC experience like EVE: Valkyrie or offer that videogame’s multiplayer options, but End Space still looks good enough that the immersion works, grounding you in a space fighter that’s highly manoeuvrable and fun to fly. As mentioned upgrades are limited, with two for your main gun and one for your missiles, no ship enhancements or customisation options are on offer, narrowing that overall sense of depth to the experience.
For what it offers End Space is a nice solid experience. It’s not going to set the VR world on fire as it lacks polish and depth when competing against other Oculus Rift titles. Spend a few bucks on it when it’s in a sale and you’ll own one of the best Gear VR ports to come to Oculus Rift.