Review: CastleStorm VR (PSVR)

Review: CastleStorm VR (PSVR)

Formats:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Oculus Rift
  • Samsung Gear VR

Format/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • 4K HDR

Extras:

  • PlayStation VR Required
  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
  • PS VR Aim Controller None
Title: CastleStorm VR
Format: PSN (813.9 MB)
Release Date: August 1, 2017
Publisher: Zen Studios
Developer: Zen Studios
Original MSRP: $14.99
ESRB Rating: T
PEGI: 12
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Other Platform Reviews For This Game:
Review: CastleStorm: Definitive Edition (PS4) Review: CastleStorm (PS3/PSV/PSTV)

Gameplay:
CastleStorm VR gave me quite a scare when I booted it up. I found myself sitting in a virtual theater, complete with popcorn and soda cups on the seats on either side of me. Up on the giant virtual theater screen was the game CastleStorm: as in the same one I played and loved a while back.

The theater was in VR but the game was in 2D. My initial reaction was, “There is no way Zen Studios made CastleStorm VR merely the game playing on a virtual theater, no matter how cool the theater looked”. Fortunately, after a few minutes of hilarious cinematics the actual gameplay took over and there I was with the full VR experience.

Gameplay remains almost untouched, but with the ability to lean in and see the action and scan across the level with your head. There is an added depth that only VR can provide. So, while VR doesn’t present anything new to the gameplay – certainly nothing that would make the otherwise excellent game better – it is pretty damn awesome playing it in VR.

For those of you new to CastleStorm, the game is a hybrid of a couple of different genres that blend well together into a pretty awesome strategy game. Yes, there is the tower defense component, and don’t walk away yet, but there’s even a very minor Angry Birds component. No, don’t walk away.

You’ll find resource management and even some hack and slash components. It’s the sum of parts that makes it such a great game, even for someone like me, who is not keen on Tower Defense and can’t stand Angry Birds.

It’s the resource management involved in building the unbreakable fortress that really makes the game shine. After all, your castle is under siege as well, and is just as likely to take a flying animal to its walls. At your disposal are foot soldiers, archers and tougher warrior types. Additionally, you are able to take control of a hero class and hack your way through the defenses.

The real damage is done by your ballista, and this is where the Angry Birds comparison comes in. It’s a comparison only because of its trajectory mechanics – that is, you aim your projectile in an arc and attempt to damage or destroy the enemy chambers.

Some projectiles cause more havoc than others and some have additive effects such as pressing Cross at the right time and causing the missile to explode. When applied to a game like this it works perfectly and it always feels great to see walls toppling from an appropriately placed projectile.

Taking control of a hero class adds that needed interaction and it’s one that I absolutely welcomed. I’m not a fan of tower defense games, but I don’t hate them. I feel like they’re Real Time Strategy wannabees. CastleStorm breaks through some of my negativity with components like the hero class, among others.

Visuals:
Zen Studios has always maintained a strong sense of style and it’s definitely on display here. Despite being itty-bitty on screen, the character models look great. VR contributes to surrounding you in the environment, and regardless of the 2D nature of the game, you’ll still feel more involved in the action.

It’s true that this game could be, and is, just as enjoyable without the VR component, but visually, I felt more engaged while wearing the headset. So while it’s a matter of preference, I did find myself enjoying leaning in and watching the battle up close thanks to the immersion of VR. It’s like watching your toys come to life.

Audio:
Some fantastic voice acting, coupled with great music, make for a superb audible experience. By nature CastleStorm is a comedic game. This is evident in the scripted dialogue and animations. It’s easy to swing and miss with comedy in games, but this one delivers thanks to some well executed sound design.

Online/Multiplayer:
While it wasn’t easy to find a multiplayer game this early in the game’s lifecycle, I was able to land a co-op game and had a blast. There are a few options for both competitive and cooperative multiplayer, one allowing one player to man the ballista while the other player manages resources and troops.

While I wasn’t able to find a competitive game in VR, I have played this game in non-VR, and competitive gaming presents its own element of fun, allowing you to bring components from the campaign into your online battles.

Conclusion:
Zen Studios managed to get me into pinball – I used to skip pinball machines as a kid in the arcades. They have done the same with the tower defense trajectory-based RTS genre. I love CastleStorm. That doesn’t mean that I’ll be loading up Angry Birds on my phone now. But I will continue to praise this game for getting the formula right for a hater like me.

Score:
8.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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