I’m new to VR, so every experience kind of just seems super amazing and surreal so far. It’s like a kid with a shiny new toy. In Death: Unchained has been my first experience in VR that I would consider ‘dark’. This rogue-lite shooter carries the dread and malice imposed by its atmosphere and its adversaries quite well. Superbright has created a faithful Quest port of the PCVR original from 2018, albeit with some visual downgrades. However, it’s charm wears thin as it leaves a lot to be desired with a lack of replay value and variety in core combat. Let’s dive in.
Ironically enough, the dark world of In Death: Unchained takes place in heaven. But it’s not quite what you’d expect. The world is very aesthetically pleasing, accompanied by soft, ethereal ambient music. Then, as you proceed through each area, the warm welcome stops. Small groups of demons, zombies, templars and other atrocities gather to attack you as you progress.
All of these enemies are completely random and will never pop up in the same order, allowing for a slightly different experience each time. Each time you die, enemies become stronger and more aggressive. You’ll traverse the games three worlds via a teleport arrow executed by hitting A on the right controller and aiming where you’d like. It’s efficient and allows me to go where I want with ease, but I would caution those who suffer from motion sickness, as moving in environments quickly can be disorienting.
In Death is built around repetition. You proceed through one of three large areas attacking enemies until the very end. What felt a little short-sighted about the game to me was that there are only three weapons to use. You’ll have access to a shield, a bow and arrow, and later on, you’ll unlock a crossbow. And while they all work quite well and the aiming system is quite satisfying, I often found myself wishing that they could’ve just implemented one more way to engage in combat. The bow and arrow and crossbow essentially yield the same results. At least the crossbow is definitely more effective in dispatching enemies with greater ease and a far more rapid pace.
I found that the core gameplay of this title was very simple and to the point, which can bring some mind-numbing and incredibly fun times. There are a lot of achievements here to be unlock (headshots, high scores, etc.), but at the end of my initial playthrough, I found myself wanting to do more. I think where this game succeeds is in its ability to make you strategize movement in order to succeed. The enemies never get easier and you never feel too powerful. I also appreciate the spontaneous nature of each enemy’s arrival. They come at you from all sides and the games randomized enemy spawn en masse. I feel that VR experiences should tap more into this style of development to create a better sense of real-time gameplay vs. pre-determined spawns.
In Death: Unchained is a faithful VR title that does what it’s supposed to, albeit with noticeably less visible finesse. However, it feels stale in long playthroughs. I would recommend picking this one up if you consider yourself a fan of VR shooters. Otherwise, maybe skip this one.
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