If you’re anything like me, you won’t have heard much about Sairento VR for PSVR until very recently. It seemed to come out of nowhere which funnily enough sums this game up perfectly, as that’s what you will be doing as a cyber ninja in this action-packed VR title. The game has been out since early 2017 on Vive and Rift but has recently been ported to PSVR, allowing PS4 players to get their hands on some shurikens and engage in some slow-mo gravity-defying action.
The story is a little bit vague if I’m honest. It’s perfectly serviceable, but don’t expect this to be a PSVR game that’s going to take you on an emotional journey. There are betrayals, kidnappings and lots of people fighting ‘real’ people in simulations but what you need to know is that as a Sairento clan member, you are a cyber ninja who must rise against a terrorist-type clan that has been attacking Japanese cities and causing absolute chaos. There isn’t really much to it, there’s just the odd bit of dialogue and one little cutscene where you stand and watch something play out. The voice acting is actually really good and emotive but really, the story is just a means to open a can of serious whoop-ass on various enemy types.
There’s a lot of content in this game spread across a variety of modes. Once you’ve completed the tutorial, which you can choose to do or repeat at any time you are free to play any mode you like in any order. The freedom is great because you might have a change of heart and being able to have everything open to you from the get-go allows you to experience what the game has to offer.
Firstly, there is the campaign/story to sink your katanas into. There are 10 chapters that are between 5 and 20 minutes long. They’re very simplistic and are basically an extended introduction into the game. They consist of moving between areas, interacting with an object and then clearing out dozens of enemies. It’s not the most cinematic or interesting campaign you’ll ever play but I enjoyed it nonetheless. There are many difficulties to replay the campaign in, each one subsequently adding more enemies that have a higher damage output. As a reward for your bravery and ninja skills, this difficulty increase comes at a trade-off of giving you much more experience and chances of rarer loot.
The next mode you can dive into is the missions. Here you are given various scenarios with a specific goal to achieve. There are 4 categories for you to choose from each with their own objective to complete and to offer some variety to the reasons that you chop and shoot people. Variety is always good so they’re definitely worth alternating between if, for some reason, you find a specific category to be getting stale – it’s good to have some options to mix things up.
There are also challenges that change every day which will see you earning exp points. It’s another way of encouraging you to play more while making the progression feel like less of a grind.
Then there is multiplayer. This is where I think most people will spend the most time. Here, you choose a map, mode and difficulty and use your arsenal to complete the various mission types available in the game. Working together and seeing other ninja badasses flying around working together to slash and spray through rooms full of enemies feels epic and like you’re part of a scene from Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.
Before we get into it, it’s worth mentioning that there is an abundance of settings to look through – which I fully recommend you do – as there are some secret things that the tutorial doesn’t show you which you can activate and tweak for your own preferences. For example, there is the ability to glide from high places as you fall by holding your arms out by your side – which feels very batman-like. The biggie though is the ability to front flip. This is for the more hardcore of VR players as it can make you feel very motion sick, especially if you are uncomfortable with heights. Don’t get me wrong, if you can stomach it, which I can’t because I am terrible with heights, there are amazing action-movie moments you can have, shooting down at people as you front flip over them – it’s true Japanese epic combat action in VR.
So how does this game feel to play? In short: Incredible. Everything about this game encourages fluidity and non-stop action. You have a combination of 4 weapons of your choice when you assemble your loadout before every mission. You can dual wield different types of weapons or in some cases the exact same weapons. There’s a lot of choices here, including shotguns, shurikens, swords, machine guns and even some wolverine-type claws that fire knives out of the fingers. It’s all available to you from the start and it just gives you joy right from the beginning.
Similar to games such as Killing Floor: Incursion, you equip these weapons by reaching down towards your holsters on your hips or shoulders and it works extremely fluidly. To reload, you shake your weapon either down or up depending on your setting, which feels so fun in full motion, like you’re actually shaking the mag out of your weapon, adding even more to that immersion. It’s all part of making everything have a flow to it which this game is absolutely masterful at.
Movement is also extremely fluid. With a point and tap of the big move button, you can teleport to multiple various locations very rapidly. There is also an option to run in a linear motion with a very slight turn depending on where you face. It can be helpful but it’s just much more fluid using the teleports, it all depends on your preferences so check the settings as there’s a lot to choose from! The move button is also used to single/double/triple jump and wall run with a simple lift of the controller and by arcing your movement by aiming using the in-game cursor. It works very seamlessly and doesn’t disrupt your flow of combat at all. With a bit of practice, you will be chaining all of your movement abilities, including the slide and slow-motion buttons to create epic, holy poop moments where you feel like nothing less than a badass. If you’ve played Overwatch, this is the closest you’re going to get to playing as Genji in VR.
The environments are also designed in such a way that they give you ample chance to wall run, jump and slide wherever you want and it works a treat. Once you master these abilities you will be extremely hard pushed to find a more satisfying action game in VR.
In Sairento VR, everything you do is useful. Whether you jump into the missions, slash through the multiplayer or dash back through the campaign, not only will you be having an absolute blast but it all adds to your progression. As you level up with experience points, you gain access to better loot and unlock skill points. Skill points can be used on a surprisingly large amount of upgrades, such as increasing how many times you can jump in one motion or simply how much damage you can take. It adds a very deep layer to Sairento VR that it doesn’t need but makes the game much more fun. If you’re going for the platinum, you will need to level up a lot and completionists won’t feel too sad about the grind because it’s a game perfect for long and short play sessions, provided you have lots of time and space (seriously don’t play this if you have children around there will be an accident). It’s worth playing to keep getting upgrades to better your cyber ninja as you can then tackle the harder difficulty missions and modes.
Completing those will then reward you with better loot. Loot, as with most games, is colour coded into rarity and if you’re getting pink and orange loot you know you’re doing the right stuff. These loot drops are used to provide valuable upgrades to your weapons such as increased magazines or more damage and even some new abilities such as bullets that have a slight homing effect. It’s insane how much there is to do, learn and upgrade. It is a bit overwhelming at first with a cluttered menu screen that takes a bit of time to work out what everything means, which also isn’t helped by how unclear the writing is within the headset. I have pretty decent eyesight but even I had to stand right up to the giant in-game menu board to read the writing, so it’s a good job you can move around your dojo in the menu!
It’s really hard to find fault with Sairento VR. Yeah, its story is a bit meh and it can take a long time to find some games on multiplayer at the moment due to a modest player base, but the game is just so damn fun. The combination of movement abilities, weapons and skills create a seemingly limitless platform for you to jump into some pretty Japanese environments and make them bloody, having the best time VR can offer while you do so. If the endless killing and cinematic action doesn’t keep you playing, for sure the deep progression and loot systems will as it gives a sense of accomplishment to go along with your desire to be an expert armed-to-the-teeth ninja.
There’s a lot to do and it’s easily in my personal top three action games for the Virtual Reality headset so far, I can’t recommend this game enough. Go be a badass!
**As a side note, Sairento VR is fully compatible with the 3D Rudder, a device you can use to move with your legs whilst seated so that your hands are free to concentrate on your glorious killing sprees. We don’t have a 3D rudder unit but we’ve heard the game is awesome when playing it with the device.**