Console developers realised a long time ago the potential in making videogames based on ninjas. Whether the gameplay tended to be more action-based or veered towards stealth, they all had overlapping details which made them enjoyable, Katana’s, shurikens, superhuman-like agility and the fact that they looked badass in their black outfits. It’s a recipe that’s perfect for virtual reality (VR), but only a few developers have tried. The latest comes from Amber Eye Studio in the form of Shadow Uprising, a title that very much embraces stealth at all times.
Unlike a normal first-person shooter (FPS), a VR experience based around being a deadly martial artist who can flit about rooftops like a monkey needs to have movement down to a fine art. Simply having smooth locomotion to wander around levels and take down enemies isn’t enough. Thankfully, this is one of Shadow Uprising’s stronger elements, where you can start exploring levels for the best routes quite intuitively.
Both hands have grappling hooks, so no matter whether you’re left or right handed the system just works, with the added bonus that you can grab onto any vertical wall to climb up if needed – this also means you can scout areas from on high like Spider-Man which is cool. Slightly disappointing is the normal floor movement which is locked to either where you look or where the controllers are pointing. The former definitely felt the better of the two, but there were points when it seemed constrained, not quite as dextrose as it should be.
As mentioned this is definitely a stealth title through and through. Attacking enemies head-on is just foolish as they become harder to kill and dish out significant damage. You need to perfectly use Shadow Uprising’s assortment of armaments, finding a loadout that suits your gameplay style. The basic loadout is a couple of katana’s, a bow and shuriken. It’s only through searching out each level’s secrets that your weapon selection diversifies, which helps to extend a playthrough for completionists.
The Katana’s are great for killing enemies in one stealthy blow, while equipment such as the bow is better for distracting opponents. There may only be eight weapons but it’s enough to offer a decent variety of strategies when deciding whether to engage or sneak past.
When it comes to the level design, Amber Eye Studio has tried to offer a decent amount of variety over the nine stages. They tend to be fairly linear in their layout, with the occasional door and tunnel offering a slight detour around particular groups of enemies. The cel-shading style works well enough but if the team were going for dark and broody, they, in fact, ended up with bland and gloomy.
That same blandness can be found in the enemies. Yes, they are all robots – so it’s a bit unusual as to why they need to gather around a burning oil drum – but the variety in their actions is minimal, to say the least. Point A to B walking for the most part unless of course, they see you. If it’s just one then that’s not too much bother, if a group spots you hightailing it out of there is best, as death is quick and will return you back to the checkpoint.
As a stealth experience for VR Shadow Uprising is a welcome addition to the fold. It’s a title with some decent entertainment value and should have a good few hours of gameplay if you enjoy properly sneaking around. That being said, Shadow Uprising doesn’t feature any wow factor to make it a must-have experience, just middle of the road.