The Walker is a stationary wave-based shooter which is presented within VR from Chinese developers Haymaker Game. Not only has the game received the 2017 Golden Plume award for the “Best VR game”, it was also chosen for Sony’s “China Hero Project“. This is a project that’s similar to the PS Talents program in Spain where Sony helps support Chinese developers accomplish “Remarkable Content” for the PlayStation family. Haymaker Game teamed up with Winking Entertainment as their publisher and launched The Walker worldwide for the PSVR earlier this month. The question is, why is a stationary game, which can be played sat down, called “The Walker“?
The Walker opens rather mysteriously, our faceless protagonist has arrived home and is about to settle for the night until strange things begin to happen. First, his lights go off, then his TV turns on, then both events happen at the same time! It’s all very terrifying! Suddenly, you turn around and see a swarm of black ‘things’ which kind of look like bugs flying around your room until they settle upstairs just out of your sight. creepily, a man appears as he walks down the stairs and asks you for your help.
Seeing as you have no choice, you agree to follow the man and see what it is he wishes you to do – little did you know that tonight you’re about to become an exorcist! You’re given a sword and a gun as your primary weapons as well as a brief tutorial on how to use them both, along with some exposition on what’s going on in the world at night. Ready or not, you must venture to the streets of Shanghai as you fend off the onslaught of demons in their many different forms as you exorcise the living hell out of anything that moves! Your ‘forced’ adventure will also take you through the subway and through abandoned lots as you fight to not only stay alive but also save the city.
DS4 or Move Controllers?
The Walker is an interesting game. It reminded me, in more ways that one, of Lunar Stone: Origin of Blood which I reviewed a few months ago. Both games are stationary wave-based shooters, both give you a sword and a gun as your initial weaponry, they were both developed by Chinese developers, and they both have a similar running time. The big difference here is that The Walker feels like a more complete game with more modes on offer, more difficulty options and a wider array of enemies.
Let’s start with the controls – You can use either the DS4 or the Move controllers but I would highly recommend to ONLY use the Move controllers. This is because the DS4 felt sluggish and the trigger buttons for attacking felt very unresponsive as they didn’t always ‘trigger’ when I was trying to fire my gun. The Move controllers however worked perfectly. You can choose to either attack with your gun or the sword – obviously, the gun is best for enemies in the distance and the sword for the little gits who have jumped on you and won’t let go! These are the only two weapons you’ll have until you complete the game, so no upgrading and no purchasing or unlocking new gear. However, the developers have given us two magical ‘talismans’ to spice things up a little.
The standard method of play will have you holding either your gun or sword in your right hand and your left hand will just be flopping around the place with nothing to do. That is until you wish to use the talismans! Simply press the move button on the left controller and two magical talismans appear – grab one with your hand and slap it onto either your sword or gun to add the magical effect. You have access to both a lightning and an ice talisman from the start. It’s probably obvious what they do, but the lightning one will allow your bullets or sword to paralyse the enemies and the ice one will freeze then shatter them. It may only be a small addition to the gameplay but it really helps in later levels.
As I said previously, The Walker is a stationary PSVR game in a similar vein to games like Time Carnage, Blasters of the Universe, Shooty Fruity, and the aforementioned Lunar Stone: Origin of Blood. However, the difference here is that you can swivel around using buttons on the Move controller. This is both great and terrifying at the same time! It’s great because you are kept constantly on your toes as you spin around to see where the creature that is screaming is coming from! Yet it’s also terrifying when you turn around and see a freaky possessed dead girl right in your face screaming down your ear!
The levels themselves make full use of this as well, with smaller demons crawling on the walls, floor, and ceiling all around you as they try to get close to you so they can pounce and latch onto your body! You also have archer Scouts who will materialise in high-up places in the background and fire an onslaught of arrows at you, arrows which can be blocked with your sword or dodged – if you’re fast enough. There are also 8ft demonic warriors who are wearing armour – yet have a weakness in their head and foot – and some other surprises such as the massive creatures and the obsessive dead girl!
There is never a dull moment in The Walker. If you lower your guard before the end of the level then you can pretty much guarantee that something will jump out and attack you whilst you’re not expecting it.
The actual ‘story’ of The Walker is held together quite well – sometimes in these types of game, the story trails off and isn’t really followed through in the best way. You have a brief intro animation to each of the levels which set the scene and when you return home between missions (which doesn’t follow continuity, but nevermind) then you have the pleasure of talking to a magical suit of armour which loves to tell you how well you’re doing and how he’s proud of you!
The actual game takes place over five levels. The levels time of completion varies but it’s around four to six minutes per level in terms of the actual combat section. I know what you’re thinking – “that doesn’t sound like a lot” and no, it doesn’t. However, once you complete all five sections, which I think was about 40 minutes for me, you get access to a new sword and gun as well as new difficulty levels. That’s right, each of the five levels has three difficulty levels which must be all played in order. Basically, you have to play chapter 1-5 on easy first, then 1-5 on normal, finally 1-5 on hard. Your new automatic gun really comes in handy on the harder difficulties as the demons aren’t messing around this time! The standard gun has you shaking it to reload when you’re out of ammo, this new one just keeps on going without any flicking of the wrists.
If you’re able to complete the entire game three times and you still want more (or at any point tbh), there is a ‘Rush Mode’ which allows you to basically take on wave after wave of enemies as you see how far you can get. Personally, the best ‘Rush Mode’ I’ve played was the Arcade mode in Time Carnage, as you can incorporate whatever time period creatures you want and mess with all the options, but the one present in The Walker does the job and helps add more replayability to the game.
Graphically, The Walker looks great in VR (I know, I’m saying that a lot recently). It’s not as clear as 18 Floors but it’s one of the clearest wave-based shooters out there. The only issue I have with the graphics themselves is that the game is a little dark. As you can see by some of the screenshots, it’s a little tricky to see the enemies sometimes – that might be by design, but it feels like Shanghai may be in desperate need of some street lamps! Speaking of which, the recreation of the environments in the game is awesome. There are some truly authentic buildings in the surrounding areas and even the subway and the tram system are well done and full of small details such as adverts.
Sound wise the game is let down a little. Don’t get me wrong – the screaming and the noises coming from the demented beings is great, but there is no music. I’m not sure if it’s to keep the costs down or maybe it was to make it more authentic and creepy as your outside and all you can hear are the beasts at night?! Either way, I popped on some of my own music and it made the experience a bit better. For immersion-sake, I just imagined my protagonist was listening to his iPod whilst slaying the demons – a bit like Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy.
I don’t have many bad things to say about The Walker. I suppose the initial one, as with a lot of VR games recently, would be the length of the game. However, with the inclusion of three difficulties and the Rush Mode, all with trophies assigned to them, the length issue is rectified as you will easily spend about 4+ hours if you’re aiming to obtain all the trophies. Controls-wise, as long as you don’t use the DS4 then the game will control perfectly for you. I understand why the DS4 was given as an alternative control method, but it’s not good to use and I would highly recommend you stay away from it unless you really have to use the controller. I didn’t encounter any bugs or glitches either or any issues with the trophies not unlocking when they should do – so that’s another positive.
The only thing I would have changed would have been to possibly give us multiple waves per level so that the level lasted at least 10 minutes. One level literally took me about three minutes to complete. Just throw in a few beginning rounds with random enemies coming at me and it could have easily have been pushed up a few minutes. Again, like with my Path of Motus review, I’m kind of contradicting myself a little but IF I had to change anything, that’s what I would do, even though it seems okay as it is.
The Walker is another really fun game that’s come out of China. You may not be able to actually ‘walk’ in The Walker but the game does offer some interesting mechanics with the addition of the lightning and ice talismans which enhances your regular attacks. Take to the dark alleys of Shanghai or the populated late-night trains in the underground, no matter where you go, evil will follow! Beating the game initially won’t take longer than an hour but if you’re aiming to 100% the game then there is plenty of content with three difficulty modes and a Rush Mode as well. If you enjoy wave-based VR games, pick The Walker up today and help save Shanghai from the demonic creatures of the night!
- Well detailed environments with really good character models for the enemies
- Interesting mechanic with the magical talismans for support
- Decent amount of content if you're aiming to complete all difficulty levels and the Rush Mode
- The move controllers work perfectly with each hand
- The sound effects are creepy and really well done
- No Music in-game
- The DS4 controller option hasn't been implemented very well
- Gameplay is a little short if you're only going for a single playthrough
- Each level is only 3-6 minutes long, I wish they had padded it out with a few more rounds in each