Gamebox 2.0: VR Games of April 2023
We got a ton of games to review this month, including a number of brand-new VR titles. Instead of one huge Gamebox review round-up this month, we’re doing two and this one will dive into all the games that need to be strapped into a headset. Check out all the VR games we played in April.
Kill It With Fire VR (Zach): Originally hitting more traditional platforms like Steam, PS4, and Xbox, Tinybuild and Casey Donnellan Games’ Kill it With Fire seems to have found its true home in VR. You play an exterminator who is tasked with heading to various locales and finding and killing infestations of spiders. The spiders could be hiding anywhere and you need to leave no stone unturned (or no picture frame/vase/plate unsmashed) to find them. Along with just smashing them with objects around the levels, you gain an arsenal of ridiculous weapons that let you take out the spiders while causing a massive amount of collateral damage, stuff like rocket launchers, flame throwers, C4, and more. You are equipped with “Spidar” and you can track the location of nearby spiders and you also hear them skittering around, which is particularly unnerving in VR. The more spiders you kill, the more areas of the levels you can unlock, which will have more spiders along with potential collectibles and weapons to use. While killing a certain amount of spiders is always the main goal, there are a variety of fun and ridiculous side missions to complete, like smashing every plate in a house or killing spiders with a certain weapon, and completing them lets you earn more points and also help you get more upgrades to your equipment.
While Kill it With Fire was fun on console and PC, it truly shines in VR. Running around and throwing objects is a blast and all the weapons feel great in the 1 to 1 control of VR. Searching for spiders is also much more fun and intuitive in VR, as you can actually lean down and around objects to hunt them down and you can throw or grab objects to crush them much more easily in VR. The immersive nature also applies to the sound, with the aforementioned skittering of spider legs as you close in on one and the horror music that occurs when a spider reveals itself. This feels like how the game was meant to be played and you can really make some fun chaos in VR, lighting things on fire, throwing stuff around, and smashing things with a frying pan. If you’ve never played Kill it With Fire and you have a VR headset, it’s definitely worth checking out and even if you have played it before on a flat screen, this is the definitive way to play it now.
Amid Evil VR (Zach): Out for both Steam VR and Meta Quest, Amid Evil VR is a full port of Indefatigable and New Blood Interactive’s Amid Evil, redesigned and rebuilt for VR. Like most of New Blood’s output, Amid Evil VR is a throwback to classic FPS games, in this case, games like Heretic and Hexen as it’s set in a fantasy world where you are chosen as a champion to battle the legions of evil and restore the lands to their ancient glory. You use a variety of melee weapons, including maces, swords, and axes, along with magical staffs to give you some ranged attacks. Since it’s VR, you are actually wading in and smacking enemies 1 to 1 and it feels extremely satisfying and responsive. The one caveat or warning I would give about Amid Evil VR is that if you are a VR newbie, you might want to ease into this one or check it out after you are more used to the experience. Amid Evil VR has the speed and fluidity of its old-school inspirations, and it could probably be nausea-inducing if you aren’t used to VR. I do VR almost every day to either work out or just play a bit of some games and even I was feeling a bit dizzy at times from the speed of Amid Evil VR. There are some comfort controls to ease some of the discomfort but this is definitely a game to build your VR tolerance up for before diving in.
If your body can handle it, you’ll find a fantastic, old-school FPS in Amid Evil VR with a blend of retro styling layered on more modern graphics and a wide variety of enemies to battle. All the weapons feel great and there’s a great variety of how each of them attacks and their special abilities, which you activate by holding your fist over your head. The maps are large and spacious and allow for a lot of exploration to find secrets along with finding the various switches and keys needed to progress. There’s a fantastic soundtrack driving all the action along as well. If you are a fan of games like Hexen or Heretic, Amid Evil VR is a great homage to those games and a fast and fluid experience in VR, as long as you have your VR legs under you.
Block Buster VR (Zach): If you wanted to feel like Godzilla or experience Rampage in VR, then Block Buster VR from Happy Camper Pictures is the game for you. A kaiju cosplay game, you play as a fan of all things monsters who fantasizes about becoming a giant monster and terrorizing cities. You get unleashed on fully destructible cities that are made of blocks and you can swipe, smash, and throw them to your heart’s content. The smashing feels excellent and it’s a blast walking up to buildings and just punching them and watching all the blocks tumble. You can also pick up and eat the various citizens and vehicles roaming the cities, which will give you a power boost and cause you to grow while also building up your special ability, like a fiery blast. If you use your power, you can really devastate the cities and enemies but you also lose power, which is also your health, so there’s a bit of a push and pull between keeping your current power and using your ability. Each of the five levels has its own unique design and special items to smash, like the first city requiring you to find shield generators in each section before you can proceed to the next. After destroying the city, you are rewarded with new pieces to customize your kaiju costume, new toys for your room, and eventually, up to five monsters you can switch between and play as. You can also join in multiplayer and smash cities together with friends.
My one main complaint about the game would be the controls, specifically movement. There does not seem to currently be an option for smooth movement, where you push the joystick on your controller forward and move like a traditional game. Here, you have to use the sticks to set a footprint on the ground and then you teleport to that spot. You can alternate between sticks to build up speed and move around the levels but it feels a bit finicky and I would much prefer to use the sticks to move around freely. It also would have been fun to actually be able to climb buildings a la Rampage and smash the buildings at different levels or get to the top and jump off to do some sort of smash. The main thing, the punching, feels great though and it’s great to look down at your arms and see giant monsters claws and use them to bash down buildings. The game has a great, cartoony art style that calls to mind things like Minecraft and it gives the game a lot of personality and charm. If you want to get in VR and just start smashing a bunch of stuff, Block Buster VR will give you just that and if the developers continue to update and improve it, especially the movement, then this will be one of the most fun experiences in VR.
I’m like the J. Jonah Jameson of Everything Action, writing and editing and constantly demanding pictures of Spider-Man.