As there are no permanent The VOID locations in the UK at the moment when VRFocus was over at CES 2020 in Las Vegas it seemed like the ideal time to test the location-based entertainment (LBE) company’s latest offerings, Jumanji: Reverse the Curse and Avengers: Damage Control. You can read what the impression of Jumanji in VR was like here. As for becoming an Avenger, don’t expect to be Captain America or Black Widow just yet.
Yes, that’s right you don’t get to play an actual Avenger, more a supped-up super soldier thanks to Wakanda’s chief tech wizard Shuri. She’s one of the few characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) to make a proper appearance, narrating the intro video all The VOID experiences have before you take the VR plunge and don all the kit.
As this is an Avengers experience subtlety and clever puzzles aren’t its forte, this is all about action. Shuri has designed a special Emergency Response Suit (ERS) which has a selection of features including blasters in your palms – aka Iron Man – and a shield. All designed for you to inflict maximum damage whilst hopefully not taking too much yourself.
There are three main attacks, each useful in their own way. The standard repulsor blast which emits from either hand, a larger more powerful beam when using both hands together, or, once the shield has absorbed a certain number of hits there’s a multi lock-on function to destroy several enemies at once.
And there are a lot of enemies. Avengers: Damage Control might come from the MCU, but its story is entirely original, featuring Ultron and his merry band of robot forces. Hence why there’s plenty of target practice. Each scene tends to be filled with robots – the final boss battle in particular – so keeping your arms up can feel like a bit of a workout. There are pauses in the action to rest but the roughly 20-minute experience soon whips by, keeping your attention with lots of shooting and the occasional camo by some of the Avengers squad.
As with any title at The VOID, levels are split between several rooms ensuring you can (slightly) wander around to get a better feeling of being in this digital space. This is nicely intertwined with the MCU as you encounter Doctor Strange – actually played by Benedict Cumberbatch – who opens those magical portals to step through.
Wind and other effects occur for that ‘4D’ experience, little details that can go unnoticed yet help add that sense of presence which you only be experienced at LBE venues. While the vests have haptic feedback to let you know when you get hit. And to make sure there’s still an element of hands-on gameplay you get to control a ship at one point with a physical steering wheel – as well as shooting stuff, obviously.
Having tried almost all The VOID’s other virtual reality (VR) experiences Avengers: Damage Control didn’t stand out as much as Nicodemus or Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire. The overall gameplay has a far more repetitive feel to it than other VOID titles yet still provided an enjoyable session. Due to the amount going on Avengers: Damage Control is the stronger experience when compared with Jumanji: Reverse the Curse, and if you’re new to The VOID then almost becoming an Avenger will put a smile on you and your friends’ faces.