Lunar Stone: Origin of Blood is your typical wave-based shooter in VR, with the added element of a melee weapon and an unusual dodging mechanic. Since the dawn of PSVR we have seen a number of wave-based shooters, with recent additions such as Time Carnage, Blasters of the Universe and Shooty Fruity – Lunar Stone isn’t quite up to the level of these games though as it lacks in a few areas whereas it shines in others. If you’re looking for a game you can pick up and play all the way through within 20 minutes and obtain all the trophies then this is the game for you, if you are looking for a game with more substance and content then you are probably best looking at one of the above titles.
**As usual, all images are either from the PSVR mode or taken from my PSVR social screen capture – so the quality isn’t representative of the actual game in VR**
The story is quite simple within Lunar Stone, you play as a character named Ting and you are trying to seek out a few magical stones which will both heal your new companion and also allow you to defeat a vampire lord. The story is very minimalistic as you play through a few story scenes which lasts a few minutes in-between the action parts of the game.
However, by the time you understand what’s going on with the story, it’s already the end boss fight – which is where the issue lies. It’s a very, very short game and the polar opposite to Audio Beats in terms of trophies as this one is too easy to obtain them all, which offers little to no replayability and no challenge. This is a shame as the presentation of the game is really good, it just suffers from a lack of content, similar to Audio Beats in that aspect.
Controls are simple – two move controllers once again, with your initial loadout consisting of a sword and a pistol – probably the first time I used a melee weapon in a wave-based shooter before. In terms of looking around – you can’t, well, you can’t with a button as the game is made for standing-up play. Your character turns to look around himself as you literally turn in real life – you can tell this game originated as a room-scale VR game on PC. This isn’t too much of an issue as the enemies only come from the frontal 180 degrees anyway. In terms of combat, the guns feel good to shoot with a Terminator 2 style ‘flick down to reload’ action and the sword was satisfying enough to use – although enemies don’t react to the sword – they scream but they don’t flinch.
Each weapon has its own special ability as well, the sword can be set on fire and shoot fireballs at the enemies and the pistol can fire all 12 rounds really fast. You can also unlock new weapons by completing the game but I prefer these initial weapons over the crossbows or fire-hands.
Whilst you are in the ‘story’ segments, you can teleport around as you can look around the scene – you can’t interact with anything other than what you are prompted to do, but you can take a look at the scenery which is actually really clear and good to look at in VR. I honestly wished that these story segments would last longer and have more interaction because these show that the developer can actually create some nice looking areas.
One of the interesting things about Lunar Stone is the dodge mechanic – in standing games like Blasters of the universe you would literally move your whole body to dodge attacks as they were limited to bullets shooting at you – in Lunar Blood most of the attacks will be melee so you can’t move your body, so the developers have added a dodge instead. To activate the dodge you must move your head back in a quick flick motion. I didn’t have an issue with this (due to my years of rock concerts and headbanging), but I can see it maybe causing slight pain if you dodge too viciously or too often. That being said, the dodge mechanic does work – if you time it right and you will avoid getting hit!
If we take a look at the visuals next, I was actually really impressed with this game, just like I was with Audio Beats. The companion character models are graphically well modelled, although very ‘questionably dressed’ for combat situations! But, if you move right in front of them when in the story modes, they look dead inside as they gently wobble and breathe but don’t interact or do anything dynamically. I know it’s not a big issue, but I like it when games add an extra level of interaction with their NPCs. The weapons are also equally well detailed as you hold them up close to your face to take a look at them – so well done on the great designs.
The levels are okay, you don’t get to move and look around so I feel it would be hard to make a bad closed off arena for combat if I’m being honest – they have a dark and creepy vault at first, then a lava-like factory followed by the night-time rooftops. The waves of enemies are standard as you get the same model being thrown at you repeatedly throughout the waves but with no indication on where they are, so many times I literally jumped as I turned and there was a skeleton in my face!
But the stand out feature is the bosses – these are really well done and look amazing. The first boss looks incredible in VR and the second one even picks you up and tries to choke you as you use your sword to hit him away! The only problem with the bosses is that there isn’t enough of them! If this game had about 5-10 levels with four of five bosses then it would have been great – some large scale boss fights in VR is what we need as most wave-based shooters just consist of smaller enemies. However, there are only three bosses and only two of them are these large-scale ones – they are fun to fight against, I was just left with wanting more.
The audio is great in my opinion, it’s on the level of ‘so bad it’s good’! The voice acting in some sections had me laughing out loud unintentionally due to the incorrectly translated English and the poor acting for the characters. However, it added to the games charm and made it more enjoyable to play. The actual music within the levels is really good though, it really suits the gameplay style and the atmosphere of whats going on. So, I would say well done in terms of the graphics and music as they are both done really well and added to my enjoyability.
The biggest issue with the game though is its length, as I mentioned above. On medium, I had completed the game within 20 minutes, which in turn gave me all of the trophies as well. You do have three game modes though, tutorial, campaign and boss rush – however, they are all the same thing! If you do the tutorial then you are shown the basics, yet playing the campaign will have you do the tutorial first – so that’s doubled up. Then we have the boss rush which consists of you only playing the three boss fights with no story or waves; however, the story is the same only with about 6-7 minutes of extra gameplay. So yet another double up.
It’s nice we have the options but it really needs more content if it wants to give us various options like that. There is an ‘endless mode’ coming soon according to the in-game menu, but I’ve not heard anything about it recently. I imagine this will just be a case of picking a level and you just get an endless wave of enemies with no boss and no end-goal. Personally, I would like to see new variations on the enemies, new locations and more weapons rather than an endless mode.
There is replayability in regards to completing the game on more difficult settings, but that’s about it if you already managed to grab the 100% on your first playthrough. It is a good game to let people play to show off VR though as it does immerse you – especially in the first two levels with the bosses. However, with such a small amount of content, it’s hard to recommend this game over the bigger wave-based shooters I mentioned at the start of the review.
I don’t hate Lunar Stone, I had a lot of fun playing it and I’ve still not jumped as much as I did when the skeleton was in my face! However, if you are looking for a game you can spend hours and hours on as you progress through various levels and unlock the trophies over a few hours based on unlockable criteria, then this isn’t for you. If you are looking for a nice, quick 100% on your PSN account and enjoy cheesy dialogue, decent enough combat mechanics and some really cool looking bosses, then pick this game up.
Lunar Stone: Origin of Blood£9.49
- The dynamic lighting is pretty cool, especially in the opening segment
- The voice acting is comically 'so bad it's good'!
- Great soundtrack for the action sequences, although the credits song is questionable
- Solid gun mechanics, the sword is good but the enemies don't react correctly to being sliced up
- Nice, easy 100% trophies
- Lacking in content, you could have 100% within 20 minutes
- Not much variety in terms of enemies + the boss turns up too soon
- The bonus weapons you get upon completion are nice, but not as good as your base weapons
- The dodge mechanic could cause pain if you go crazy with it