Combat oriented games – whether they involve guns, swords, or simply your hands – were bound to gain popularity with the release of the first generation virtual reality head mounted displays (HMDs). Since the gaming industry has been able to direct stories within videogames, consumers have wanted to experience their wildest power fantasies. In 2017, that is now more feasible than ever thanks to VR implementation. One of the best uses of VR-combat games arrives in the form of Sword Master VR.
Released onto Steam by Master Indie on Sep. 23, 2016, Sword Master VR is the closest experience I have had to feeling as though I have been reincarnated as a true gladiator. This titles is nothing short of impressive, especially for being developed solely by Eric Tereshinski (his first game, no less). The concept is a simple wave based fighting game where the player faces anywhere from one to three enemies at a time until you have murdered all who challenge you. Once this is complete, you are granted access to the next level and are awarded a new sword, or in the case of the expert levels, a new shield.
After choosing a sword and shield, or two swords if you prefer, you will be instantly gripped by the size of your opposing knights-in-drab-armor. Enemies appear in different classes as well as accompanying sizes, and the randomisation does not stop there. Any enemy can be seen with only their flesh to protect them, or seemingly cosplay as a man in a titanium trash bin. Unfortunately, the brute strength of your weapon will most likely not be enough to penetrate these steel toaster-ovens. Most of your time will be spent parrying and looking for the gaps between pieces of armor where you can slash and stab your opponent. This adds a loose strategic element to a game that could have otherwise been summarized as “wave the heaviest stick to win”. To die, you must be hit once in order to have your vision reddened, then once more while this effect is active. Once your health regenerates, you are safe to take another blow.
While the graphics are by no means the strong suit of the game, the texture work is quality enough to ensure the player is immersed within the fantasy setting. The sound design is also just as good as it needs to be – no more, no less. I love dramatically beating back an enormous enemy’s overhead swing and be met with an appealing CLANG!
Though I enjoy Sword Master VR a tremendous amount, there are a few issues I find irritating. The hitboxes, for instance, are much larger that they need to be, and the slightest touch of objects causes them to react as if they were forced together at full force. If you were to gently touch your shield to an enemy’s sword, then no matter how large they may be, they will be thrown backwards. Enemies also have an issue where they back up too far from your boundaries and cannot be attacked or successfully attack you. Luckily the game is still in development so we can be relatively comforted to know it will be fixed later.
Sword Master VR has climbed its way up next to Chivalry: Medieval Warfare in my all time favorite sword combat games and I cannot wait to see where the game progresses from this point forward.