by Dylan Blight (PSVR)
Experience the next generation of VR combat with Evasion, an intense sci-fi bullet-hell shooter. Play solo or team up with a friend as you run, dodge, and unleash devastating Surge Attacks as you fight your way through an action-packed story campaign.
Evasion is designed for co-op play and fun afternoons blasting aliens in the face with a friend while listening to a heavy metal soundtrack and dropping smack talk on your fictional foes. Unfortunately, if you can’t find someone to play with, it’s a rather repetitive shooting gallery that has you wishing you knew someone to jump online with you.
The light-gun game series Time Crisis may have filled co-op fun at arcades and at home for me for many years, but with VR you can either repeat the formula of those games -- see Bravo Team -- or build a similar experience that doesn’t feel as hand-held. Evasion is kinda the evolution of the arcade shooter, its plot is very simple with a premise setting you up as a sci-fi action hero taking on hordes of enemies in a campaign designed for co-op play.
Developer Archiact describes the game as a ‘bullet hell VR’ which is a pretty spot on description for Evasion. Dropped on a desert and rocky planet, your job is to clear out the Optera, an alien lifeform and help save those trapped on the planet. There is minimal voice-acting and the story comes in short waves between objectives, but they all boil down to just shooting more and more enemies while completing small tasks like protecting an area, hacking a computer etc.
The variation of the Optera comes in several types including one that reminded me of the Chimera from the Resistance franchise, a smaller robotic type and then giant ships and wasps (yep) in the sky. There’s enough variation in the 9 different levels that proceed to get more and more hectic to keep it from feeling like you're just shooting the same stuff.
Evasion really gets the bullet hell in virtual reality stuff right. With a constant spray of deadly weapons of different types in different directions, including bouncing bombs all the way down to smaller lasers, it’s a constant dodge, block and return of fire battle against the Optera. It can become hectic very fast, especially in the later levels and blocking yourself in a corner isn't always going to be the smartest move as you can be surrounded from above as well as in front.
Archiact really wants you to stand-up and play the game with full locomotion. There is no way to crouch in-game by pressing a button, but there is cover littered all over the levels which means to use it you’ll need to be standing, crouching, ducking and weaving in-real-life. You don’t NEED to play like this as I did play primarily sitting down and just went without the ability to crouch, but it is the only way to use the cover system for better or worse.
With the number of bullets being littered all around you and other effects at times like explosions and debris, Evasion is technically rather impressive as it runs smoothly with everything happening around you. Twice, however, while playing online I had the HUD disappear off my gun giving me the struggle to aim and read my bullet and power-up count. Hit detection disappeared as well when I was firing bullets which makes playing tedious. An annoying glitch to encounter, although it would fix itself after completing an objective weirdly.
You can play Evasion with either two PS Move controllers or the Aim Controller. I used the Aim Controller as my primary choice for playing as the controller simply felt better. The differences are basically where your teether and shield are in the game. When playing with the Aim Controller your shield is in front of your gun at all times which means you can shoot in one direction and then deflect bullets coming from that direction as well. Using the PS Move controllers you have your gun in one hand and the tether gun and shield in the other hand. Meaning you can do some sort of John Wick shooting in one direction and deflecting in the other, but 99% of the time I found I was just shooting in the direction I wanna deflect anyway. Your tether, which is used to pull not only health and power-up pickups towards you is also used to grab onto enemies as a sort of finishing move when their health is low. Different classes in Evasion have different uses for the tether, but the PS Move set-up is probably better at using it as you can shoot and tether at the same time, whereas the Aim set-up has you using the same gun. Overall though, the Aim feels and controls a lot better.
Evasion features four different classes to play as and they all force you to play a little bit different. The Surgeon is, as you’d probably guess, good at healing, although an ability on their teether makes self-healing quite useful in solo play. The Striker is an attacker with a smaller shield but packs a punch. The Warden class features the biggest shield in the game and can serve as a frontline tank. And finally, the Engineer is the most fun to teether as it allows you to grab ahold and sling an enemy into the side off a cliff-face or ground. When playing solo I was primarily playing as the Warden for the huge shield to help me, but the Warden also uses a shotgun weapon type making it hard to stay back and pick off enemies. In co-op, the Surgeon was the easy go to pick, although the Engineer also proved useful.
Playing Evasion solo is -- to put it bluntly -- very boring. In fact, if it wasn’t for the heavy metal soundtrack that reminded me of DOOM it’d be a rather bleak experience that is easy to grow tiresome of. Finding someone to play with online was a constant struggle for me and even when I managed to find someone, they’d leave after a level or two. It’s not like it’s hard to join someone’s game either, by default your gameplay session is open for someone to join unless you make it private. I just couldn't find anyone, at least in Australia it seemed. This only meant the three survival maps were basically unplayable for me, as they are obviously designed for teamwork.
Evasion is fun when you have someone beside you blasting away, communicating, having a laugh. Playing by yourself shows the repetitive nature and structure of the campaign though and that’s why is really hard for me to recommend picking Evasion up, unless you know you’ll primarily have someone to play the game with.
Platforms: Oculus, PSVR (reviewed on a normal PS4 + VR unit), HTC Vive
(A review code for Evasion was provided)