Studio: Bunker Up Games
Control: Headset Tracking and Touchpad, Bluetooth Controller, Gear VR Wand
About the developer
Swords in Space is being developed by Bunker up Games, it is their first VR app and they wanted to make something unique and fun. With so many Shooter games crowding the market, there were no sword fighting ones and they wanted to fix that problem.
Swords in Space does it’s own thing, it’s own way. Let me explain what I mean by that; Big game companies tend to take the safe route when it comes to developing games, they take the gameplay from the latest hit, pump up the graphics, get a hollywood level sound design team, huge teams that game test it, and add years of polish. And create a blockbuster game that makes millions, it’s a recipe that works, I can prove it because I guarantee you have played the latest Battlefield or Call of Duty right? Because all that money is on the line the Game companies hire consultants who don’t always know anything about gaming, but specialize in following trends, And if the game team try to do something that is out of ordinary of trends, they get smacked down. That’s why it’s very difficult to get new and different gameplay titles out of big companies. Hence the main problem with getting big name developers to jump on board developing games for VR without subsidies from other huge companies like Facebook, Shoving big cash at them to entice them to take a stab at it.
Bunker Up Games isn’t a huge game company with hundreds of thousands of dollars to create its game. It’s a small game company making their game the way they want to. Without people who don’t know how to push the VR industry forward making all their decisions, Bunker up games is free to innovate and try new things. But they need the help of our VR community to do it, with the help, support and feedback.
As you will read, Swords in Space isn’t perfect, but it is trying to come up with it’s own style and gameplay, and with that it’s a work in progress. This is my take on how that is going, and what I think is working well, what I would think would help make it better from a consumer standpoint.
Battle your enemies in Virtual Reality with intense sword fighting and power up your character during the adventure.
Swords in Space, is a unique title that reminds me of punch out on the NES, and the epic sword slasher Infinity Blade on IOS and Android platforms. With a few added twists, uh, number one you’re in VR, which a more immersive environment. And while the graphics remind me of a PlayStation one title, it tries some new things in VR which is very gutsy and intriguing.
It’s not perfect however, your avatar cannot dodge, which was absolutely necessary in both games I mentioned above. I wished they would have added that somehow. Maybe lean your head left and right or something like that. And your hits seem a little random, and worked best about both of those games I mentioned above worked so well because the gameplay mechanics worked so flawlessly it became almost second nature to dodge and counter so effectively, so let’s cover the gameplay mechanics first.
The gameplay mechanics in Swords in Space are unique to say the least. You can play with headset tracking and touchpad on the side of the headset, or a Bluetooth controller, or the new Gear VR wand controller.
The touch pad and the controller are basically the same, you look at circles and when your “sight dot” is on them you press the touchpad or controller button and your avatar will swing his sword causing damage to the enemy. After the first boss battle, you are able to use a shield, in which you use timing to press the shield icon that pops up. Blocking its attacks, and to be honest it feels a little wonky. Because hits seem to happen at random, and you’re not sure if it’s you, or your timing, or the game bugging out, hurts the overall gameplay.
The Gear VR wand, has a whole different gameplay style where you actually swing your sword around, and hit the dots you’re looking at, although like I said before it feels a little too random. I thought to myself, “why am I swinging way over beyond where the bad guy is? you’re just substituting a button press to flick your arm in real life.”the potential of being able to really swing your sword while fighting off these monsters was why I was intrigued to play this game in the first place.
You also get the use of magic, in the way of floating balls. they float down automatically. You can only use so many and the game has a meter that fills up giving you limited amount of tries at first, but as you level up your character you have a type of level up tree, where you get a choice of upgrading one of three random upgrades, your speed, strength, or max health, or more use of your magic, or crit-hit chance, or healing over time. It’s a great idea bringing those RPG type elements into the game; because it gives you an ownership over the type of character you create. And since they are random upgrades it’s not always the same, it’s kind of like rolling the dice in a traditional D&D game, you’re never sure just what you are going to get, or get stuck with.
There’s only one mode in this build of the game and that’s single player, the baffling thing is, there’s no saving the game. Once you die, you start all over again. Losing whatever stats you built up and you start over fresh. The only way I can understand doing this, is in a Pacman sort of way, you build up your guy, you fight with that unique person, and when he/she dies, you build up another unique person. But I do not see where any stats are saved, So it loses any form of accomplishment.
VR Comfort Level
The Comfort level of the game is good. You only float to a new spot briefly and the game play does not require a ton of camera movement, so the view stays locked on to your opponent. You won’t have any problems with feeling sick in this game.
The VR design feels like it has so much potential! The developers are so close to making this game great! Yet it slips away with the random attacks and blocks. It has so much going for it, its disappointing to see it fall on its face with the very fundamentals’ which the most successful game franchises have perfected, and that is the control design and how inputs from the player act correctly on screen.
Mario wouldn’t be any fun at all if when I pressed the jump button, he jumped sometimes right when I pushed the button, but on other occasions he waited a half a second, making it impossible to judge a correct jump. So if Bunker games can tighten up the animations so it can make the enemy’s movement somewhat predictable, and your strikes predictable this game would be fun and the rest can be worked on, on future updates, like different spells and different weapons for the player to use.
The graphics are simple, and remind me of the early PlayStation one graphics. Remember the first king’s Quest? Flat textures, and very little in terms of scenery, but graphics aren’t what truly make a game great, gameplay is king baby. Ask anyone who plays Minecraft, but having shiny graphics is nice; what first drew me into Infinity Blade was how incredible the game looked on my iPhone, and this game is made with the same engine, in fact and updated version of the same engine. I’ve seen much better graphics on the gear VR, so in terms of rating Swords in Space, it would in the low range category.
Music / effects
The music is dark and cool sounding, mixing well with the environment of being in space and fighting a dark magician, who is helping you kill him for some reason. Maybe he is just bored of living and needs someone to kill him.. I don’t know. But the music is good, the sound effects are there. The sound chinks when hitting a shield, and clunks when hitting the bad guy. I guess they could be better, but it was adequate for what you are doing and playing.
Bunker Games has gone out on a limb here, which I can really appreciate. It’s just they went a little too far with the dots, I really liked the fact you have so many different options as far as player controlled input, head tracking and touch pad, Bluetooth controllers, and Gear VR wand. Control options are a must in any VR game. If you can find your way past the clunky control scheme, flat uninspiring graphics, and extreme difficulty level, (Screw you! Meat Beater!!… Snickers… Meat beater… Who came up with that name!?) Good for you! If Bunker Up Games can fix and tune what they were going for in this game it could be fantastic, but as of now it feels like, it’s part of a game idea for the early days of google cardboard, which never really got play tested and finished. It has a lot of good starts of ideas; it just doesn’t deliver the experience I was expecting.
- trying something new
- the music is good
- it will get better with each update
- plain graphics currently
- gameplay need tightened
- animations need to be timed better