HeroCade for the PSVR is a compilation of nine VR experiences that range from awful to pretty good. The 15-dollar asking price is fair, though not as great a value as you’d think due to the inconsistency in-game quality.
Before players get the chance to try out one of the included games, they must listen to a floating blue orb’s attempt at providing a narrative. From this main menu, you are then treated to a loading screen which leads into the game selection screen. Here the nine games are at the end of concrete walkways, where in order to select them, players must navigate themselves to their location. Upon selecting a game, there is at least one more loading screen, as well as a loading screen upon exiting the game. These constant barriers that increase the time it takes to jump between titles severely hinders the pick-up-and-play nature that a good compilation should have. That doesn’t matter as much as the games themselves however, so let’s see how they stack up.
Starting with one of the good ones, there’s a shooting game called “Alpha Turkey Hunt”. It can be played with a regular dualshock 4, but like most VR shooting games, it’s much better with a motion controller. At first it seems like throwaway shovelware, but upon upgrading your arsenal, it starts to become fairly enjoyable. At first the reloading times are horrendous making you feel like a sitting duck as you slowly reload your weapon, but using coins that you collect from killing enemies, you can upgrade your ammo clip and reduce reload times. This creates a nice hook that makes you feel more adept the longer you play. I will say that the enemies are disappointing. While they make sounds like real turkeys, they’re merely wooden cutouts that slowly move towards you.
Similar to “Alpha Turkey Hunt” is “Jurassic Survival” where players are tasked with fending off waves of encroaching dinosaurs. This is the most disappointing experience in Herocade. Since dinosaurs don’t react to your bullets whatsoever until they’re dead, you just hope that you’re hitting them as you fire wildly in their general direction. Another gripe is that the graphics are far too ugly to make the realistic style the developers were going for anything but an eyesore. It looks like a PS1 title. I only stuck around long enough to see the T-rex, and even that wasn’t as exciting as I’d have hoped.
What is probably the best game on the collection is Dreadhalls which is a survival horror game wherein you must collect items in ancient labyrinthine tunnels. You have a map and an inventory which includes lockpicks and a lantern. As your lantern starts to run out and you become engulfed in darkness, it’s a fairly unsettling feeling. Some black demon-like creatures show up every once in a while and can are much scarier in VR than they’d normally be. At one point, after walking into a room without checking on of the corners, turning around to see one right next to me caused me to shout out loud. In general, Dreadhalls feels like the most fully featured game in the collection.
With Polyrunner, the perpetually forward moving obstacle dodging game similar to race the sun, I have no idea what benefit it gains from being in VR. It’s a decent little distraction I suppose, but it’s nothing to write home about either. On the plus side, the art design and graphics are pretty interesting to look at.
With Pixel Bit Shooter, we have another disappointment in this collection. I was excited to try out what is essentially Space Invaders in VR, but due to sluggish gameplay and lackluster aiming, it’s only worth a cursory glance.
Another mediocre experience, which I should note was free on GearVR, is Little Sisters. The gameplay consists of shining light on objects and areas around the room you’re in and watching creepy things transpire. The entire experience lasts a few minutes and unless you’re easily scared, it won’t be satisfying for even a single play through and certainly offers no reason to return to it.
Z-strike is responsible for making me the most bored I’ve ever been while playing a VR title. In this game, you are in a helicopter and must pick off zombies from a top down perspective using missiles, high-caliber machine gun fire, and other weapons which can be unlocked and upgraded with points gained from playing. I can’t tell you what the game is like when your arsenal is upgraded however as the finicky aiming and seemingly randomness of where your shots land made the game an absolute chore to play through. The graphics with its 3 colors of green black and white are also an eyesore. The whole game just has a dull, energy-sapping feel to it.
A decent game on the collection is 405 Road Rage which is another endless runner, where you control a car avoiding traffic. It’s fine for a couple of runs, and despite being able to upgrade your car and unlock new ones, it isn’t likely something you’ll return to often.
The final game Gumi no Yumi is a puzzle game where the player controls a raccoon and must push gummy bears into their respective places. Like Z-strike, it is very boring. Moving the camera 90 degrees to see all sides of the puzzle is jarring and the speed of the game is very slow and tedious.
Most of HeroCade’s lineup is mediocre at best, though it does have a few decent standouts. For 15 dollars, the price isn’t terrible, but neither is it great considering what’s offered.
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