Review: Blasters of the Universe (PSVR)

Review: Blasters of the Universe (PSVR)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Oculus Rift
  • HTC Vive

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • PlayStation VR Required
  • DualShock 4 None
  • Move Required (2)
  • PS VR Aim Controller None
Title: Blasters of the Universe
Format: PSN (6.39 GB)
Release Date: February 27, 2018
Publisher: Archiact Interactive
Developer: Secret Location
Original MSRP: $14.99 (US), £11.99
ESRB Rating: E10+
PEGI: 12
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Audio Review:
The audio review for this game is available on Episode 566 of the podcast at 30:40.

Gameplay:
The premise behind Blasters of the Universe goes something like this: Alwyn was king of the arcade, dominating all comers. One day a crate arrived containing a new VR package and Alwyn inserted himself into the virtual world to become its master. You’re now in that world learning how to shoot and survive waves of enemies in classic battle hell shoot ’em up (shmup) fashion.

A pair of PlayStation Move controllers is required, allowing you to wield a gun and a shield. The ability to customize them is a big part of the experience and it’s designed to keep you coming back for more. You have access to very limited options to start but as you play the game and clear more waves, you gain the ability to unlock the various weapon and shield parts.

The upgrades can affect the amount and types of ammo you can carry, laser sights, cooldown, and much more. How much more? Enough that your loadout can apparently be customized in more than 130,000 unique ways. Obviously you’re never going to see this many combinations as you play so you’ll have to look through your options and choose your upgrade paths based on your particular playstyle.

The gameplay itself places you in a first person bullet hell shmup. The only part of you susceptible to damage is your head so you’ll be doing a lot of bobbing and weaving as you try to avoid the hail of enemy fire. The shield helps here, but it can only take so many hits before it fails and needs a recharge cooldown period, so you’ll need to use it strategically.

You’ll also need to reload your weapon using your shield hand, leaving you vulnerable in the heat of battle, so again, you’ll have to be very careful about when and how you do it.

The enemies all come at you from within a 180 degree arc so at least you won’t have to worry about what’s going on behind you. To succeed, you need to be constantly moving your upper body and scanning the play field.

Smaller enemies love to sneak in on the sides while you’re focused on a bigger battle in front of you. It’s easy for them to catch you unaware and deliver several blows to your head before you know it. Five hits and it’s game over.

There are only four levels in the game, each ending with a boss, but it’s actually pretty difficult, so don’t expect that you’ll just blow through each of the waves, take out the boss and move on.

My only issues with the game come with the upgrade system. It takes a long time to unlock each power up and you’re not really sure how well they’ll work until you try them out in live combat. Agonizing over what part to upgrade and then finding the one I picked to be virtually useless based on how I’m playing can be frustrating.

I get that the idea is to keep you coming back to play more and more in order to obtain a better score and unlock more power ups but I just wish there was a better way to see how they really fare in a combat situation before committing to any of them.

Visuals:
Being transported onto the game grid has a vaguely Tron-esque feeling. Once inside, the area looks great, with the bright colors of an older arcade game dominating the landscapes.

The bullets coming at you start off as a very straightforward attack. That quickly devolves into crazy rotating bullet hell patterns, making things very hectic. The pacing works though, giving you time to position your head to avoid the pattern or hold up your shield to block them when it’s too much.

Audio:
The music is pure arcade pumping beats and it fits the setting perfectly. Alwyn is also omnipresent, harassing you as you fight through waves of enemies. The voice work is really good, even funny at times, and it never gets to the point of annoying.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is one player only but it does include Global Leaderboards to stoke your competitive fires and keep you coming back for more.

Conclusion:
Blasters of the Universe is a pretty good bullet hell shmup within a VR environment. It can give you a bit of a workout as you dodge bullets, desperately trying to keep your head safe.

I do have issues with the way upgrades are handled and the general difficulty of the game but if you’re looking for a crazy VR shmup that’ll get you off the couch, this may be the game for you.

Score:
7.0

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

Written by Josh Langford

Josh Langford

Josh has been gaming since 1977 starting with the Atari 2600.
He currently owns 26 different consoles and 6 different handhelds (all hooked up and in working condition) including all consoles from the current generation.

Josh is currently the US PR & Marketing Manager for Fountain Digital Labs and has recused himself from any involvement on PS Nation arising from posting or editing any news or reviews stemming from FDL.

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