When one plays a video game in virtual reality, one must first remove their presence of the real-world and fully submit themselves to the events happening on the screen. Skydance Interactive’s PlayStation VR title – Archangel, immediately captivates the mind and draws in your full attention by applying an emotionally driven narrative. Archangel not only delivers an immersive VR gaming experience that excites the senses; it also presents players with a meaningful story that showcases the importance of family and comradery.
In order to immerse oneself into the virtual world, a VR game must offer the player accurate controls. Thankfully, Archangel does exactly that. Although the game puts you in the pilot seat of a mech, you do not have full control of the mech; as the game puts a helpful AI in control of movement. In principle, this makes Archangel an on-rails shooter; but a damn fine one at that. It’s challenging and will have you feeling the pressure of utilizing the mech’s systems to their fullest as you fight for your life against waves of diverse enemies.
Though you don’t control the movement of the mech, you do have full control of each of the arms. Offering two control methods – PS Move or DualShock 4, Archangel provides the player the freedom of choice. Using PlayStation Move as your primary control method, you independently move each arm in accordance with your own motions. The mech is fully equipped with an arsenal of powerful weapons, shields, and can even perform melee attacks and grab items. It is quite thrilling to shield yourself from an attack on the left side; meanwhile, you are shooting down enemies on the right.
The game successfully delivers exciting mech combat as you participate in challenging and fast-paced combat situations. Shielding yourself from aerial attacks while simultaneously gunning down ground troops requires focus and peak levels of attention. It’s exhilarating to switch between your varied weapon types to target and destroy enemies; in the meantime, you are careful to protect yourself from incoming attacks.
Of the two control styles, the PS Move controller setup will have you feeling as though you are in the pilot seat. Nevertheless, the DualShock 4 handles well – even if some of the immersion is lost.
One of Archangel’s strongest attributes is how the game requires you to be vigilant. Sure; the game will warn you of an incoming flank or notify you if enemies are preparing an attack from the side, but it also requires you to be aware of your surroundings at all times. Archangel drops you into a war zone and it is on you to survey the area and be aware of hostile activity. This plays to the strengths of VR because the world setting fully envelopes you, and you can quickly examine points of interest.
There were several times I focused too strongly on aerial opponents and neglected to notice the ground tanks swarming to my sides. Sure enough; this failure on my part led to my defeat. Archangel strikes a fine balance in terms of difficulty, as you’ll often feel that defeat was caused by your own failure to be observant.
The challenge presented in the game also plays to the strengths of the narrative. As the pilot, you gradually learn to master all the systems available to you. Initially, you will struggle to find a balance between all the different weapon types – whether it be a machine gun or lock-on missiles. You will feel the pressure of battle build as the story progresses. Even when you feel confident in your abilities, there will be an enemy or boss battle that will push your skills to their limits.
Overcoming the odds and walking out a victor will give you a real sense of accomplishment. To aid you in your journey, you can upgrade the capabilities of the mech to better suit your style of play. In all, Archangel will take around 4 hours to complete. You can replay missions and aim for a better overall grade.
Graphically speaking, Archangel is one of the more visually impressive titles available for PlayStation VR. The enemies are nicely detailed and the world setting feels apocalyptical. Some textures are on the weaker side of things and the draw distance is limited by the tech, but the overall package makes for a pleasant VR experience.
Archangel is a successful PSVR release that demonstrates the power of immersion. It’s a short but thrilling experience that is well worth the price of admission. If you ever dreamed of piloting a mech, this is the VR game you have been waiting for.
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(Editor’s Note: A review code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.)