Apex Construct Review (PSVR Retail Disc Version) – An Intriguing Virtual World Marred by Controls
Apex Construct is now available for the PSVR in North American retail outlets, as well as in digital form, so I finally scheduled some time to play this first-person shooter adventure game set in a dystopian world, which looks like someone had a bad acid trip. This game is without a doubt a beautiful looking VR title, which is due to the world the development team created, which offers vibrant color palettes and expertly crafted environments to explore. The scenery and level design definitely make it easy to slip into the virtual world, and become one with the experience.
The story is pretty straightforward. You’re sucked into a future version of the world by an AI named Fathr, who also serves as the narrator directing you throughout the tutorial and campaign. He informs you that the world has been thrown into chaos, which is clearly evident based on the twisted looking environments you come across. It appears as if the world has been turned upside down, and that AI and man may be at fault. You learn of another AI called Mothr, and soon you begin to realize that you may be getting used as a tool between these two powerful beings. It’s up to you to uncover exactly what went on, which you do through puzzle-solving, exploration, and firefights with your bow and arrow.
The puzzle-solving aspect of Apex Construct was my favorite activity in the game, except when I had to enter security codes into door panels, because you literally have to tap on each number, and sometimes the PS Move controller wouldn’t register hits properly. Puzzles are environment-based, and also require the use of the various types of arrows you eventually can use with your bow. They’re fun and challenging, but not too difficult, so I enjoyed deciphering them throughout the five hour campaign.
Unfortunately, the other two main gameplay tropes in Apex Construct are a bit marred due to how the game is controlled. I found the tracking to be quite well, but like other first-person VR games, moving around the world is as clunky as it gets, which really tarnishes the exploration aspect of the gameplay. You can either use a stop, point, and teleport system to move around, or you can enable fluid motion, but due to the PS Move not having a thumbstick, it still feels like you’re fighting yourself to move in the directions you want.
This issue is exacerbated during firefights, because at times it’s nearly impossible to quickly orient yourself when a fight between the world’s robotic pests comes around. If you need to make a quick attack, it’s very hard to do unless you’re already facing the enemy. Trying to quickly teleport or spin yourself around to face your attacker just doesn’t work, so you take damage unfairly in my opinion. The shooting aspect works a bit better, as the motion to draw an arrow with two PS Move controllers works pretty well, and does feel like you’re drawing a bow in real life. Unfortunately, the animation to draw the arrow takes a bit of time, so if you come across a surprise attack, not only are you fighting the controls to orient yourself to make an attack, your attack is further delayed by the slow draw action.
Like other PSVR first-person shooters, outside of Farpoint VR, Apex Construct suffers from navigation issues. I just wish Sony would make PS Moves with thumbsticks, or more developers took advantage of the AIM controller, because navigation in a VR game with the teleport or half-assed free motion mechanic just doesn’t provide a stellar experience. It’s a shame too because this is a great looking game with an interesting world and premise to explore. It just gets too tedious at times as you struggle to get around in a competent fashion. Considering this game is big on exploration, that’s a major issue in my eyes, so while I enjoyed my time, I didn’t love it due to the navigation issues.
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