The foundations of a great space game are here, but everything is just a little off.
In the years to come I believe that science fiction is the genre where VR gaming will really shine; taking us to worlds and places we could never dream of visiting in reality – but we’re not there yet.
Space Rift is a game that almost gets it right but misses the mark and ends up a distinctively average game in part, and terrible in others.
There are five main missions, each taking you to a different sector of space with a distinct look. The missions are the standard cockpit-based types you’d find in the original EVE game: mine this, scan that and shoot everything that moves. They’re pretty basic and you’ll soon realise that you don’t actually have to mine – but it’s worth your while if you want to upgrade your ship between missions. The missions aren’t long and are extended by pointlessly long travesal sections in which nothing happens. I imagine they’re trying to convey how big space is but it ends up wrecking the pacing of the levels.
The game is much better looking in VR that the trailer and stills suggest, but it’s still not fantastic. I’m looking forward to the day when VR space games have galactic backdrops that look less like a 1990’s jpeg, but I do applaud these early VR developers for pioneering the genre. In later missions the backdrops do improve and the areas are more imaginative. The bridge in which you accept missions looks great in VR and at first glance the characters within it seem okay too. Then you realise just how short they are – it’s an odd design choice.
You’ll spend the majority of the game inside your cockpit and this is an area where the game works well. You have several displays to your left and right, as well as above you, that control your ship’s numerous systems. These include changing your ships weapons, launching a mining probe, turning on your ship’s headlights, and an options menu. Interacting with these systems is easy; simply look at the screen and press X to interact – in some cases you may need to use the d-pad to select a particular function.
Combat is okay but nothing special. Chasing enemy drones is somewhat tricky as they fly above, below and around your spacecraft, which you would expect in a space battle. Jerking your head in every direction whilst your fighter veers from left to right can cause you to feel somewhat nauseated, though the feeling doesn’t last long. The enemies don’t feel particularly strong but if you hang around in one place too long you’ll soon end up dead – I had to replay certain sections a couple of times as I was ambushed and didn’t react fast enough.
The controls are one area the game works well. You actually feel like you’re flying a one-manned ship and as long as you don’t go too fast when approaching objects, you’ll be able to avoid crashing into them – and even if you do you’ll only be penalised with a slight reduction in shields.
The voice acting is truly awful and it doesn’t help that the dialogue is clichéd and poorly written. The voice of your ship’s computer is distorted in such a way that I thought there was something wrong with my headphones, luckily you only have the computer for the first mission. Unfortunately the character you play is here to stay. The voice acting for the protagonist is dire and he’s not very likeable. I found myself rolling my eyes at much of what he said. The sound effects aren’t any better. The laser of your ship sounds weak and the other beeps and bops are often shrill to the point of painful.
Space Rift isn’t a long game and you could finish it in under three hours. Just as you’re getting into it, it ends. And on a cliffhanger no less. The idea of spending another £15 to continue a story I’m not invested in does not sit well with me.
The game doesn’t hit the mark. The missions are dull, the story doesn’t grab you and it’s way too short. There are much better PSVR games out there to spend your money on.
Verdict: 5/10 – Not the space game you’re looking for.