Blasters of the Universe is a wave-based VR shooter from Secret Location, and whilst we have already received a few of these on PSVR, such as Shooty Fruity and Ancient Amuletor, Blasters of the Universe is up there as one of the best in the genre. The game sets itself apart from the competition in a few ways as it takes a tried and tested genre, which is very popular in PC and Console-based VR and gives it a few tweaks here and there to make it it’s own. One word of warning – BotU is an active game, you will be moving around a lot – so please bear that in mind.
The game is set in the 1980’s (hence the name is a parody of Masters of the Universe, which was popular back then) which is made apparent by the visual and audio design. The story is, there is a guy called Alwyn who is a self-proclaimed ‘Master of the Arcade’ – he would attend his local arcade and constantly beat all the young children (within the games, not physically) as watch as they leave disappointed and upset. Then, one night the Blasters of the Univers VR game arrived and he saw this as his opportunity to jump in and set the new high score.
As soon as he strapped on the headset, he became one with the game – in a sort of Lawnmower Man + Tron style, Alwyn had transcended into Grandmaster Alwyn, Virtual Spacelord and taken over the VR world with all of his created minions and machines. Along comes your faceless character, you are a wary gamer who has also jumped into the game in order to play it and face off against Alwyn – this entails you to face wave after wave of aliens who will be shooting tonnes of projectiles at you along with the occasional boss and various machines.
Luckily, only your head is your hitbox and you do have a shield in order to protect yourself. So, you must physically get up and duck, dodge and move about in order to avoid the thousands of oncoming bullets. you must perform all of this whilst also using your fully customisable weaponry in order to return fire and take them all out before they can overwhelm you. This game will keep you physically active and you will work up a sweat, but it really helps that the game is incredibly fun to play as well.
In terms of controls – the game makes use of two Move Controllers and uses them perfectly in my opinion. Your right hand will be your gun and your left is your shield. No matter where I moved my controller (I have a few obstacles obstructing parts of it in my house) the tracking kept up and I never saw any elastic banding or ghosting. The aiming was also spot on for me – from really far back (in VR) I was able to aim and shoot exactly what I was hoping too with little effort and I was able to easily shield myself from bullets without the shield moving to random places (like in a few other games).
The best part about the controls and the game though is the customisable weaponry. As you progress through the game and obtain more experiences and move through the levels, you will unlock new parts for your arsenal. You have seven guns, a number of barrels which change the way the gun works and a bunch of different projectiles which you can swap between before a round, such as laser sights, widespread, and even explosive shots. You even have various shields to unlock – these range from the smaller ones with more defence and battery life all the way to massive ones which can only withstand a few hits.
You can mix and match and experiment to your heart’s content until you find your perfect combination – which usually lasts a few rounds until you find a new combination. Having this level of customisations and not just a set amount of guns with their own skills and advantages really helps make the game deeper and offer replayability as you unlock new gear which allows you to get higher scores.
One of the few negatives, which is more a disappointment than anything wrong, is the fact you only have four levels. Each level consists of around 5-10 minutes of bullet-hell followed by a boss – who really gets you moving around like crazy! For example, the first boss fires a massive laser at you which you can’t block, forcing you to duck and dodge all over the place, all whilst trying to shoot him back so he can’t charge up another laser! I won’t lie – I’m not that active and that boss really gave me a run for my money!
Once you find the four levels are too easy for you, you can play a harder version of each which offer more enemies, more bullets and more deaths. The game doesn’t have much in terms of a goal – other than to take out the evil Alwyn, but it does come with an online leaderboard which you can compete against either your friends or the world. I’ve tried so hard and yet I can’t get on the leaderboard as the ones on there are so much better than myself! Having the online scoreboard does help to keep the game fresh though as it means you can constantly try and better yourself and try out new weapons with the aim of getting your name on the level select screen.
Even though the game is active and wants you to move around in order to dodge the bullets, you are technically stuck to the spot in-game. you can look 360 degrees (although all the enemies are in front of you) and the game tracks your movements within a few feet of your initial position. Enemies will constantly come from in front, above and to the side of you, so you have to be wary of what you see in the corner of your eye – this is helped by the amazing quality of the VR shooter as everything is so easy to make out. The game feels like it may have originated as a room-scale VR game from PC, as the emphasis on manual movement is apparent and usually these types of games have sprung from the platforms where you can move freely – similarly to Doom VFR.
Visually, I say it every time so I’ll stop soon but I believe Sony has done something to the PSVR itself as every single game coming out now looks amazing – it’s sharp, clear, easy to see everything and read the text, and most of all it all works perfectly. The game is modelled on an 80’s style, so you have a lot of Tron-like neon lights on navy blue or turquoise green along with enemies who wouldn’t look strange in an 80’s TV show such as HE-MAN and the Thundercats. The audio is also perfectly suited to the gameplay with its sci-fi upbeat anthems which you can just about hear through the barrage of bullets smashing against your shield and the opponent’s faces!
Blasters of the Universe is a great PSVR shooter for the more active users out there. The controls are among the best in terms of responsiveness and retaining full control over within VR, plus the shooting feels fun and not like a chore. The 80’s art style, story and music all work really well and brings up a faux nostalgia for the era the game is set in and also fits perfectly with the neon-coloured bullet hell the game provides. The only downside is the length of the game due to the limitation on the number of levels; however, if you are competitive and fit and you want to remain at the top of the leaderboards – then I’m sure you will get many hours of enjoyment out of this title.
Blasters of the Universe
- Great take on the 80's
- Music matches the gameplay style perfectly
- A Multitude of weapon combinations to try out
- Keeps you fit whilst having fun
- Tracking never lost me
- Technically, only four levels
- It's an active game, so you have to have the room and ability to duck and dodge as you move around in VR
- Not much replayability unless you like competing for high scores