Game Review: Raw Data– Polished, Fast, Physical VR Action

Photo courtesy of Survios Raw Data has finally left early access (I feel like I’ve been saying “left early access” a lot lately) and it’s turned out to be one of the best VR shooters out there. Yes, it’s a wave shooter in a market that is full of them, but it’s a badass wave shooter that has co-op, pvp, great gun mechanics and good graphics. Photo courtesy of Survios There are four different characters, each with their own weapons and abilities. There is Bishop, the dual pistol wielding “Gun Cleric” that could have been taken straight from the movie Equilibrium. The melee-focused robot ninja Saija has a laser sword and telekinetic abilities for those who want to fight robots up-close. Boss has powered robot fists and a shotgun that can shoot grenades for mid-range fighting. And to round out the roster there is the bow wielding Elder. Each character is unique and their different weapons and abilities cater to many different playstyles. Shooting Bishop’s pistols feel good, and they fire how you would expect. Boss’s shotgun has the typical videogame shotgun damage falloff, and besides my hand occasionally sticking to the weapon while cocking, it is fun. Elder’s arrow mechanics are done well, but sometimes grabbing the bow string would fail during intense moments. While projectile weapons all felt good, Raw Data feels weakest during melee combat. Photo courtesy of Survios Melee combat feels weightless- of course, there’s no way to properly simulate striking something in VR since you are just waving your hands through thin air. Slapping robots around like they’re rag dolls is amusing, but their weightlessness breaks the great atmosphere that is created. Melee combat is done as well as it could be. That is to say: it’s fun. Raw Data can be extremely fast and frenetic and is quite a workout. There is teleportation based locomotion by default, but you can turn on trackpad movement in the options. The teleportation, called “teleshifting” is actually established in the lore – and if you teleport too many times, you get stuck in place for a short period of time. The world building is done well with a narrative that binds together each level. You are an elite member of SyndiK8, and underground organization aiming to expose the underbelly of the seemingly benevolent Eden Corp. There is, surprisingly, a lot of narrative content to account for why you’re standing in a room defending a glowing cube from scary robots. The later levels can be quite large and allow a good bit of movement, but Raw Data is ultimately just a wave-shooter. Each level consists of hordes of emotionless robots that are relentless in their pursuit of your death, and you must stop them from destroying the data you are trying to steal. There are a couple types of turrets and a shield you can deploy, but the limit to how many that can be deployed at once is very small. Depending on the level , it can be only one or two. Photo courtesy of Survios Despite its highly polished nature, Raw Data can still feel like an early access game – that is to say, it can be quite buggy. Co-op matches can be hit or miss with your partner crashing out, desyncing, or disconnecting. Of course, when it does work, multiplayer is the best part of Raw Data, and the entire campaign can be played cooperatively. Developer Servios even managed cross platform multiplayer support between Oculus Home and Steam VR. The PlayStation 4 version is single player only, unfortunately. If you just want to practice or try out the different classes, there are several tutorials to familiarize yourself with the controls. Photo courtesy of Survios Also included in Raw Data on Windows is a multiplayer PvP mode called “Hostile Takeover.” This mode tweaks a lot of the rules from the campaign and adds power-ups, which are not found in the campaign. There is no teleportation in PvP mode and its fast paced nature may make those prone to motion sickness want to stay away. But if you aren’t prone to motion sickness, it is one of the fastest PvP experiences in VR. Raw Data stands out in an ocean of wave shooters by having good atmosphere and great combat. Now that it’s out of early access there have been a bunch of little touches that make it feel like a complete package and it transcends the VR deadfall of feeling like “just a tech demo.” Despite multiplayer bugs, it is a solid action game -If you want to feel like an action hero in VR, Raw Data will scratch that itch. Raw Data is available now for HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Sony PlayStation VR.
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Antal Bokor

Antal is video game advocate, retro game collector, and video game historian. He is also a small streamer, occasional podcast guest, and writer.