Here we are, in a time where VR is taking its first uncertain steps. We’re going to look back on these heady days of gallery shooters like we look back on mechanical amusement park games. They’re just a product of their time, and of developers trying to find out what’s fun in VR, and what’s not. Virtual Ricochet is an experiment, but even in Early Access, I’m not sure it’ll be one that pans out.
In Virtual Ricochet you’re given a paddle and a platform to defend. Drones spawn, and you have to gun them down before they can damage you. If you take three hits, it’s game over and you have to play that stage again. It’s pretty straightforward stuff, but with a small twist: you have a laser paddle. This laser paddle allows you to deflect certain shots away. It’s like if you’re playing tennis, but you also have a gun… or something.
I can’t say that Virtual Ricochet is the best idea I’ve encountered for a virtual reality game. It has a 80’s neon arcade aesthetic that helps sell the whole enterprise—but there’s not too much to the gameplay. Enemies are color coded, and have to be hit with the same colored lasers to damage them. Likewise for the paddle part: you have to make sure your laser paddle is set to whatever color the projectile is that you’re wishing to deflect. This is helped with a handy line showing not only what color the projectile will be, but what path it will travel down. Some drones shoot projectiles which can’t be deflected, and must be dodged by jumping onto another platform.
Right now there are only eight stages and two difficulty levels. There is also a skill system with which you can buff certain aspects of your arsenal. As Virtual Ricochet is still in Early Access, it will definitely benefit from more development time. According to the game’s Steam store page, Virtual Ricochet will expand in the planned year of development time. There will be more levels, and more drones to shoot, paddle, and dodge.
I’m eager to see how Virtual Ricochet pans out. The developers say that the core gameplay is in the game already, and if that doesn’t change much, I don’t know if I’m sold on this strange—but ultimately pedestrian—concept. If you want to sit around and shoot at drones, there are already dozens of VR games for that. The addition of a tennis racket doesn’t really make for a challenging or more fun experience. And the 80’s neon aesthetic, while a great direction to take the art style, isn’t executed very well. I’m definitely going to save my final judgement for when Virtual Ricochet hits “1.0” but it’s not really for me in its current stage. But who knows, maybe it’s exactly the blend of tennis and gunplay you’ve always craved.
Virtual Ricochet is available now on Steam VR.
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