Through the vocational extracurricular activities of my wife, the good Lord saw fit to bless her (me) with a free Oculus Rift! Until now, most of my VR experience was limited to the Batman VR demo on PS VR at Best Buy. Here, I have the opportunity to perform GUG’s first review of a VR game on PC, the recently-released Naked Sun, an on-rails shooter by Door Z Studio.
As Naked Sun is a light gun shooter, gunplay is obligatory, though the targets consist of anthropomorphic machines. There is not a single drop of the red stuff in this game–not even the oil splats simulating blood as seen in SYNTHETIK.
I apologize in advance for anything I may say in this review that may betray my lack of experience with VR. As stated earlier, Naked Sun is the first PC VR game I have played on Oculus Rift, and I spent more time than I would have a conventional game trying to configure and calibrate. For example, when I first turned Naked Sun on, all of the sound was coming into my headset. As my wife was also interested in witnessing the household’s first VR experience, she was disappointed that she could not hear anything. I exited the game, and enabled “sound mirroring.” Most of the sound in the game would then come from the sound bar, with force feedback-like sounds such as explosions would come from my headset. Though I asked for this, it is not ideal, because the commander issuing orders can barely be heard at a distance in the “VR play area” without turning up the sound really high as if in an arcade. Even when I played through the game again with my wife away, I tried to get all of the sound back into my headset exclusively and I was unsuccessful. I feel this was something problematic between the Oculus software that always runs, and the software. This negatively impacted my experience, because I missed parts of the “story” by being unable to hear the commander over standard gameplay sounds.
While I find the options menu rather meager, there is a category there for turning up the graphical intensity. I recommend doing this, because its default setting is half-full, making even huge billboard signs difficult to read. Even with graphics “maxed,” Naked Sun strikes me as a game designed to reach as many audiences and PC rigs possible, as it runs at a smooth 60 fps, but with an aesthetic that reminds me of light gun games from the early 2000’s such as Time Crisis, only without the “blocky” enemy models. The game is polished, but basic in appearance, reminding me of Redout if it had humanoid character models.
The story encompasses the common sci-fi trope of man vs machine. Once again, the human race is under the threat of extinction because robots are giving them the smackdown. Ostensibly, the player is the one thing capable of liberating the humanity. Codenamed Blackbird, a machine with a human brain not unlike the cyborg Robocop 2, the player’s mission is to infiltrate into the heart of the enemy’s base in Mexico City to bring down the grid.
I mention Time Crisis because I find it an effective metaphor for what Naked Sun is. To accomplish this goal of subterfuge, Blackbird is equipped with dual pistols as the primary weapons. The motion sensor technology of the Oculus Touch strikes me as a much more ergomatic and expensive version of what Nintendo began with the Wiimote. The technology here however, is much more advanced than the traditional light gun game on a tube television. The regular pistols do good damage, and if one desires, looking through the “scope” of the gun reveals a laser targeting system to make headshots easier to acquire. But guns akimbo is not the limits of Blackbird’s arsenal. Pressing the analog button on the Oculus Touch transforms, Judge Dredd style, the semi-automatic pistols into fully-automatic sub-machine guns. Though these weapons are less accurate, their rapid-fire allows better tracking for moving targets. I cannot express enough how frequently I would press the analogs just to watch the gun transformation weapon in VR—it is a sight to behold.
Naked Sun is an on-rails shooter, which is somewhat disappointing for me as I would have liked to experience full VR movement. Even so, it is not like House of the Dead, or Ghost Squad, where one stands out in the open with no defense. The middle-finger trigger on the left Oculus Touch activates a shield that can block incoming fire, but is limited by a meter that depletes faster while taking damage. Reinhardt fans from Overwatch will get a kick out of lowering the arm-mounted holo-shield, allowing it to recover, only to bring it back up right before suffering damage. The middle-finger trigger on the right brings down a targeting reticle for a shoulder-mounted missile launcher. Most of my time with Naked Sun, I did not quite understand how this worked. During the third chapter, I abused this ability frequently.
In fact, this missile launcher was critical in my defeat of the third chapter boss. Actually, the two super drones that I faced are the only bosses in the game, as Naked Sun ends shortly thereafter. The brevity of the game is almost necessary, given that there are only three basic enemy types of a normal and heavy troopers, and flying drones, making for a total of four unique enemies in the game. That is not very many, but the game is over right at the point where I begin to notice that when they begin to gain shields, and are more aggressively accurate with their gunfire, resulting in an experience that is not overly prolonged.
At $15 regular price, Naked Sun is a good choice for a budget VR experience, especially considering that games in the realm of shooters released within the same timeframe, such as Seeking Dawn and Islands of the Nyne are pricier. Those looking for a decent VR experience that offers more than the VR stigma of being a glorified tech demo. I do have to say that the “to be continued” concerns me; time will tell if Door Z Studio is going to sell us the rest of the game for another $15, or provide future offerings through a free patch.
Review code generously provided by Novy Unlimited.
The Bottom Line