Review: Gates of Nowhere
A bit of polish in Early Access went a long way for this hack-and-slash dungeon crawler.
There are a lot of fantasy titles available on virtual reality (VR). They vary in scale from simple small-scale arena battlers to vast sprawling titles like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR. Gates of Nowhere lies somewhere in-between, a relatively linear dungeon crawler with hack and slash gameplay.
Gates of Nowhere has been out in Early Access for a while, and that version of it gained some praise when it was previously previewed here at VRFocus.
Since then it has received quite a bit of polishing, with one of the main new features being the option to switch between teleport movement and smooth locomotion. Both work reasonably well, though the smooth locomotion is quite slow and feels somewhat cumbersome.
The controls otherwise work well for the most part, though its wise to ensure you have plenty of space, as the experience is designed to be room-scale, so you’ll need to physically bend over to pick up items, which can be tedious if you lose tracking.
The combat is pretty well done, using a sword and shield or axe is fairly satisfying. The enemies have a decent variety of actions and are fairly smart, though you do practically have to step on their feet before they notice you, so the aggro range could potentially use a tweak. The only real issue was when using a bow and arrow, which was incredibly slow and awkward, especially when compared to titles such as Apex Construct.
One of the most appealing and entertaining aspects was crafting spells. In order to use magic you need to create the spells you use with alchemy, which requires ingredients gathered from exploring the dungeon. Spells take the form of coloured gems which are thrown to activate their effect, most of which pack a hefty punch and are great for getting you out of difficult situations, such as when your weapon breaks mid-fight.
The story is somewhat buried, more implied than directly stated. The player takes the role of a ‘Seeker’ trying to recover the lost knowledge of the ancient Alchemists, who long ago were locked away inside some kind of mental construct realm, where the monsters are representations of fears. There’s even some implications that the very dungeon you are exploring is nothing more than a mental construct comprised of the distorted projection of the player characters mind, which is vaguely reminiscent of some concepts used in the Persona series.
The most impressive aspect of Gates of Nowhere is definitely the visuals. Everything looks beautiful. The environments are beautifully crafted and detailed, and everywhere there are small touches that make it feel like a real place, the sort of thing that really draws you in.
The sound design is good and the music is fine, though somewhat nondescript, with no really stand-out tracks, though nothing that feels out-of-place either.
Overall, Gates of Nowhere is a visually stunning hack-and-slash dungeon crawler with enough other things to do like magic crafting, exploration and puzzle solving to make it absorbing and engaging. Though some aspects of the combat, such as the bow and arrow, could still use a tweaking, this title is certainly worth your time.