Evasion is a first-person sci-fi shooter from indie AR/VR studio Archiact. With its co-op campaign missions, the game is decidedly aiming to capture a Halo-esque shooting experience along with massive numbers of enemies, something the studio has been couching as a bullet-hell genre shooter. While it’s a technically competent game that looks and feels well polished, some lackluster enemy types and repetitive gameplay left me feeling pretty ambivalent about moving forward through the off-world colony.

Evasion Review Details:

Official Site

Developer: Archiact
Available On: Steam (Vive, Rift), PlayStation Store (PSVR)
Reviewed On: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive
Release Date: October 9th, 2018

Gameplay

As a sci-fi super soldier, you’ve been dispatched to a mining colony that’s been overrun by a race of robots called the Optera who’ve broken an armistice in search of a super rare substance, a metal that’s used in powerful illegal weaponry. We’re not really here for the story though, because as it goes, it’s a pretty cookie cutter pretense for exercising your trigger fingers—one dedicated to firing, and the other dedicated to secondary attacks, healing, and interacting with key items in the game.

With four classes to choose from, Striker, Surgeon, Warden and Engineer, you’re offered up a few fixed variables such as max health, shield size, gun strength and ultimate ‘Surge’ attack. There’s no in-game currency or weapon upgrades to look forward to, making it essentially the same shooting experience throughout the entire game.

Image courtesy Archiact

Your singular primary weapon has three fundamental firing modes: semi-auto standard shot, charge shot, and an ultimate, all of which requires collecting yellow power canisters dropped by enemies upon death. You can speed the collection process by using your secondary heal/tractor beam weapon on critically damaged enemies, and getting a guaranteed power or health pickup. While healing are predictably doled out randomly, if you play in co-op mode you can infinitely heal your buddy at no material cost to you, something I felt detracted from the overall co-op experience. With two players, I never had the sense that I would run out of anything at any time, and a life-saving heal was always just a simple ask away.

While the emphasis here is on cooperative play to make for a balanced assault, you can play the entire game in singe-player mode if you want; difficulty appears to scale depending on the number of players in your party.

Visually, the game has very few flaws, delivering masses of articulated enemies and lasers at a buttery smooth frame rate even on top settings using my testing rig (GTX 1080 and Core i7 – 6700K), a testament to Archiact’s ability to create a truly cohesive VR environment. Specific destructible points in the game, while entirely inconsequential to gameplay, make for an interesting sideshow to the sprawling industrial facility.

Image courtesy Archiact

The studio has however labeled the game as “the next generation of VR combat,” and a bullet-hell shooter. Here’s a few reasons though why those monikers don’t really fit.

The bullet-hell shooter genre is pretty well-defined. At its essence, it’s a test of a player’s skill to be able to recognize patterns in the stream of enemy bullets and successfully navigate your way through, all the while accruing minimal damage. Throughout most bullet-hell shooters, you’re also given increasingly cool weapons that you have to tactically use for fear of running dry at critical moments. There’s always an even cooler weapon around the corner that’s risky to get, which not only provides a sense of urgency, but also fear of failing the mission after taking too much damage in the process. Simply put, there’s a carrot and a stick. You desperately hate the stick, and you’ll almost die to get that carrot, making Evasion more of a ‘bullet-heck’ flavored substitute.

 

In single player mode, what actually follows is an exercise in blandly strafing back and forth as you deflect oncoming barrages (with varying amount of success) and sponge-up whatever stray lasers are fired from randomly spawning baddies. Bad guys always shoot where you are, and never where you’re going to be, so it’s a simple task in making sure you have enough lateral room to escape the lasers as they land at your flank, and simultaneously prioritizing targets.

This changes in co-op mode as baddies have multiple targets to consider, namely you and your friends, but then it erupts into something of a blind chaos. Without a good idea of when I was deflecting shots or absorbing them—both audio cues are deceptively similar in sound—you’re left with the job of sallying forth, taking the inevitable damage, and maximizing your health pickups along the way which you can tractor-beam to your position without any added fear of losing out. However you slice it though, it’s a bog standard arcade shooter with lots of the same enemy types in quantity, and no new weapons to look forward to.

And by ‘bog standard’, I mean it comes replete with some decidedly tired VR shooter tropes: floating gun reticles for easy aiming, repetitive enemy types, the “helpful” AI voice who tells you exactly where to go and what to do, and waypoints as breadcrumbs to your next objective. Walk here. Scan this. Shoot these guys until they’re gone for whatever reason. It’s the same story throughout the entire game. I was also always waiting for those big boss reveals that bullet-hells are notorious for, but I was led through the game with continuously repeating B-class baddies until the very end.

That said, I made full use of my three available lives in the later levels where difficulty ramps up significantly—so personal gripes notwithstanding, it’s does present a challenge that a group of proficient marksmen will find difficult. My personal playthrough took just under five hours to complete on campaign mode, which consisted of nine missions. A co-op survival mode is available as well, which should keep your party entertained for a while longer once you’re done with the game’s story.

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Immersion

Full-bodied avatars, created with IKINEMA’s inverse kinematics, are fairly well done, although they’re scaled strangely to fit a range of heights—from four feet to seven feet tall. At the bottom end of the range, you’re treated to a child-sized avatar holding giant guns, which while hilarious, is somewhat immersion breaking in co-op. More on that in the ‘Comfort‘ section.

Speaking of guns, they have a typical ‘VR weightlessness’ which is really hard to avoid without a dedicated peripheral like PS AIM (supported in the PSVR version). By not providing any recoil though, it makes them feel more like magic wands than massive weaponry fit for a space marine super soldier. No reloading or ability to drop your gun (they’re glued to your hands) puts any hand presence out of the question for Evasion.

Image courtesy Archiact

Enemy animations are competent, although all but a single rolling exploding robot type ever offered any up-close and personal encounters, as I was hoping for some melee from the hulking nine foot-tall walking bots that never materialized.

Vive controls are less capable overall, as I found it difficult to do tighter strafing maneuvers than on Oculus Touch’s analog sticks. Interactions in the game are however very simple (point and shoot), and while Vive movement is fairly sludgy, you can get used to them.

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Comfort

Because of the range of heights made available, you can easily play sitting down by putting your avatar’s height in the upper range.

Evasion also offers a number of locomotion modes that makes it a very comfortable game. You’ll be able to choose from a free locomotion mode with both variable snap-turn and smooth-turning, a ‘dash’ mode that turns your movements into a sort of instant teleportation slide show, and a jogging mode that allows you to jog in place to move in the desired directions. Of course, if you have a 360 tracking setup, you’ll be mostly relying on the head-relative forward movement.

Comfort vignettes can be toggled on to provide a temporary limiter to your field of view when you turn, which has been shown to help with motion-related nausea.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Overall
5.5

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  • Borderland2VR

    I hope PC VR exclusive.

    • antonio mora

      why?

    • Alexisms

      What a bizarre thing to say. Have you had a fall and banged your head?

      • JDawg

        Did you not see his name? It’s a joke in reference to PSVR exclusive recently announced.

        • Alexisms

          I’m not convinced. His sentence would suggest he’s not a native english speaker. You may well be right of course.

  • FriendlyCard

    Not sure why this site often rates really good vr games with low scores. Getting tired of reading these negative reviews.

    • Miqa

      Why does the score matter so much? The review pretty well points out what is good and what isn’t. You can make up your mind much better from reading it than looking at numbers.

      Personally I enjoy that we get honest reviews from Road to VR. I doesn’t sound that this game is anything more than okay, which is what they put in the score.

      There will still be people who love it, but when it seems to include a lot of easy solutions and shortcuts in development instead of what can be considered best practice, at least I find it appreciated that it is brought to the surface.

      • FriendlyCard

        Yes I agree, honesty is best, keeping in mind that honestly can come clothed in negativity or alternately with a positive focus. You see, from the negative review here, you think the game is nothing more than “okay”, but the overwhelming opinion of those who have played it on PC is it’s much more than just “okay”. Devs put massive effort and money into VR, we need to be positive and supportive and appreciative. These devs are not getting rich off of this.

        • benz145

          It’s still a little early to say, but reviews from users on Steam are largely in line with our review:

          https://store.steampowered.com/app/683000/Evasion/?snr=1_7_7_151_150_1

          So I think it may be wrong to say “the overwhelming opinion of those who have actually played it on PC is it’s much more than just ‘okay’.”

          • FriendlyCard

            The reviews on Steam are mostly positive. Please remember that when you review VR titles, you are potentially helping build a positive industry, so being overcritical only damages the industry by having your readers believe your negativity and skip purchasing said title.

          • FriendlyCard

            And 4 3/4 stars average on Oculus store. Reviewers on this site need to be less negative.

    • benz145

      I think we use our review scores a bit differently than how some people expect. We really use the full spectrum from 0-10, and a 5.5 means an ‘Ok’ game by our rating. Some people think that if a game scores less than an 8 than it must be terrible, but if a game was terrible, we’d rate if a 2 or 3. We’re thinking about the best way to set the expectation to our readers about which each score means so that we can hopefully clear up any confusion.

  • moogaloo

    Why would a laser gun have recoil? It is the games that do have recoil on laser guns that are wrong. Sounds like they have a good engine, reasonable gameplay, but unsatisfying story and progression. Still interested though will wait for it to get cheap

  • kool

    The score is lower than the review suggest. At 5.5 I expect glitches and broken mechanics. Sounds like a 7 maybe a 6.5 because it’s generic af, but hey I haven’t played the game.

    • FriendlyCard

      Actually, it’s higher than that according to the mostly positive reviews on Steam. Maybe closer to 7-8 out of 10 on Steam.