Out of the many games introduced at Oculus Connect 3 last fall that showcased the power of the Oculus Touch controllers, only a few managed to prevail as must-try titles by us. One of them in particular was Epic Games’ Robo Recall, where you take control of an agent robot whose mission is to “recall” rogue robots. Given how this title was built from the ground up to take advantage and harness the power of the Oculus Touch controllers, you kind of expect it to be a grand tour de force that should solidify the Oculus Rift as the premier VR system of choice by games. Does it achieve that? Let’s find out!
Robo Recall reminds us a lot of Will Smith’s iRobot movie, since the similarities are there with these rogue robots that have gone haywire and causing destruction throughout the city. We take the roll of Agent 34, one of the many other automated robots in the TAL Series 9 line, but our task it to recall as many of these robots that have gone rogue. Essentially, we’re tasked to decommission as many of them as possible by any means necessary – be it through using hand guns, melee weapons, and even our own two hands.
Each mission usually involves our hero sweeping through city streets taking out as many of them as possible in the given amount of time, but the action is sometimes broken up by having us defend base stations used for communications, attempting to discard robot parts into a vortex, and other time-based objectives to accomplish. As we progress, we encounter bosses that gives us some insight as to why these robots are going rogue in the first place.
Call it a visual masterpiece filled with stunning motion capture, detailed robots, and lush environments, Robo Recall doesn’t disappoint with its attention to detail. The robots in particular are impressive in the way they look and move, especially up-close and personal while disassembling them. Considering the action style and fast pacing of the game, the dynamic visual flare of the game definitely helps to keep the game upbeat and fresh at all times.
Set in a first person view, which isn’t all that surprising given that it makes a lot of sense for virtual reality, Robo Recall has us “teleporting” through streets in this vast futuristic city inhabited by these rogue robots. The Oculus Touch controllers act as our hands in the VR world, allowing us to not only interact with the weapons that are strapped on us, but as take apart robots as well when close combat action is necessary.
There’s no shortage of action in this title, seeing that from the moment we’re first thrown into the first mission, we’re taken on a crash course of how to dispose of these robots. It’s a lot of fun, just because we have an assortment of weapons and fighting method to use on enemies. Speaking of weapons, they vary in power and usability, as pistols tend to be more accurate and offer larger ammo capacity, but don’t pack a whole lot of power. In contrast, shotguns are more effective in destroying robots in close quarters, but fail miserably against far away enemies.
And that’s the thing about Robo Recall, wherein you’ll need to constantly switch up weapons to adapt to the onslaught of robots constantly coming in our way. Using our weapons is done by either grabbing the pistols in our holster, or reaching behind our back to use heavy duty weapons like shotguns. Progressing through the game, we’re able to purchase add-ons and enhancements – making our weapons even deadlier in the process. And if that’s not enough, too, enemies will drop their weapons once they’re destroyed, so we can use them to our advantage.
In situations when we’re overwhelmed, we can rely on good old hand-to-hand combat that has us grabbing opponents, then proceeding to tear off their limbs piece-by-piece. When you get good at this, you’ll be able to do things like grab two robots simultaneously, smash them, and then throw their mangled carcases back at other opponents.
Seriously, the action is ferocious in this game, but one of the toughest things to master in the game is properly orienting yourself in the world. This is done by using either of the analog sticks on the controllers, which allows us to set where in the world we want to “teleport” ourselves and set our orientation. While the process of teleporting is nothing new to us, since it’s the choice of movement for most VR games, the problem arises when you have to think quickly on the fly and set your orientation once you teleport. Initially, we found ourselves messing it up, often finding our enemies behind us – as opposed to in front. After some practice, however, it becomes less bothersome over time.
Despite all the intense actions, hilarious commentary of the robots being taken apart, and stunning visuals, the game does come off rather repetitive over time, especially when missions take on a linear approach.
Robo Recall does a phenomenal job of immersing us in its world, thanks in part to the slick VR experience we’re exposed to. For the most part, the tracking is spot on, allowing us to properly aim our weapons at enemies without fault. The only issue arises whenever we teleport and orient ourselves so we’re facing the opposite side of the Oculus Rift’s two tracking sensors. It’s necessary at times because enemies approach us from all directions, but this particular area is a blind spot of sorts, which is when we begin to see some tracking issues.
Naturally, a third tracking sensor would remedy the issue altogether, but for those who are stuck with the two-sensor approach, it means that this blind spot will be a hindrance. When the Oculus Touch controllers are obstructed from the sensors, such in the case when our body covers that line of sight, we’re forced to remember our orientation so that we’re facing towards the sensors.
That’s only the minor complaint we have with the game. Besides that, the VR experience is an immersive one that’s complemented by the fierce action and interaction in the world. There’s even a time element involved here as well whenever opponents fire off their weapons. As bullets fly through the air and begin to get closer to us, time kind of slows down to allow us to deflect bullets – or even grab them with our fingers and fling them back.
And best of all, we managed to play through an hour of gameplay at a time without once feeling sick!
By now we’ve played through several top-notch games built to take advanatge of the Oculus Touch controllers, like Superhot VR and The Unspoken. Those two titles have their distinctive gameplays, just like how Robo Recall has its own too, but we feel as though that Robo Recall is a blend of the two titles. While the pacing of the action is a bit better than The Unspoken, mainly because we’re fending off hordes of robots at any given time, Superhot VR requires more movement in the VR world from us. Nevertheless, the $30 cost in picking up Robo Recall is worth every penny, as the developer has done a bang up job in delivering a convincing titles that’s non-stop action every alleyway we investigate.