In Death: Unchained – A Review

The premise

This is a roguelike game that pits you against a range of demons in a dystopian landscape. There is archery and there are respawns – and generally quite a lot of death. The clue, as they say, is in the title. The original In Death game was pretty addictive and the battle though never-ending was always changing. The question is whether the game can make the leap from the PC to the VR headset and maintain all its quality.

You start the game with a bow and arrow. As you progress and gain achievement points, you are armed with a crossbow. You can then choose between weapons and each offers something different for the scenario you are in. Don’t expect a large inventory of weapons to emerge. This a shooter game that makes you an archer and you will a sense of relief that you do not have to do the admin in your inventory.

As this is a procedural game, each time you respawn the landscape changes. The core of the game is an improvement though repetition but you also have to adapt each time. Each time you make a run you can be hit a few times but then you are sent back to the start to count your kills and your points. It is this achievement system that drives the premise of the game – and the scaling of difficulty level as you progress. As you improve, your enemies will also get better and you will have to up your game to have the same impact. Therefore, there is a lot of incentive to master this game, hence the gameplay lasts a decent amount of time.

The vital details

Release Date: Quest 23rd July 2020
Fantasy, Shooter, Action
Mode: Single-player
Developer and Publisher: Superbright
Supports: Oculus Quest
Play Area: Seated, standing, room-scale
Input: motion controllers
Comfort Level: Comfortable

The opinion

So, this was an addictive game on PC but how well does it make the transfer to virtual reality – time for some serious opinion-giving.

The gameplay

Let’s be clear from the start, this game is not for everyone but it will likely have a strong core following. This is a gaming experience for the first-person shooter purist. You start in the Sanctuary, you go run around a bit and make your kills. You are shot and killed and returned to the Sanctuary respawned, gather your stats and off you go again into a similar though not the same world.

If you want a transformative narrative or a powerful underlying backstory, this game is not going to delight you. However, if you simply like getting good at killing stuff and counting up your kills, then this game will feel like a rather hellish heaven.

If you have played the PC game then you won’t notice a lot of difference, other than feeling untethered from the controller. There is also a new Abyss area, which is pretty creepy.

The technical

You will rightly assume that the success or failure of this game will come down to the quality of the graphics and the game mechanics. First of all, if you played the PC, you be upset with the downgrade in graphical experience. This world is not so beautifully rendered, but as yet few VR worlds have mastered the same slick graphics as the flatscreen consoles. Therefore, this is no big downside and merely an observation.

What is great in this virtual reality In Death world is that you can duck and dodge out of the way of incoming arrows, making this a wholly more physical experience. The teleportation within the game is also excellent. As long as you are nimble with those motion controllers, you can move near and far relatively accurately. However, you will have to be quick and you find yourself frustrated by the lag of the teleportation arrow – especially when you are in a fight with a boss and literally marauded by oncoming enemy.

Here is the main problem about the game – what is an annoyance at the start of the game becomes a major inconvenience as the game gets harder. The movement between shooting and teleportation is just too clunky and it takes an amazing amount of movement to make the move work. There is just no fluidity to the movements you have to make in order to succeed in later levels.

If you have a continuous locomotion system, you will find that this does make all the difference. There are also some cool features, such as the ability walk, and strafe your enemy with the crossbow. You can also walk with the bow drawn and ready for attack.

Our brief takeaway

Shoot, kill, be killed, respawn and repeat. Gather your kills and do better next time and progress with your achievement intact. It is a simple formula but one that has worked since the beginning of computer gaming.

This game lacks a central narrative and a core character that would help you become emotionally immersed in this world. It is not an RPG and there is no quest option as such. This is an arcade game where you seek to improve your score each time – if you like this – then you will love this game. We suspect that you think this game lacks a little soul for complete enjoyment.