Blasters of the Universe is now available for the PlayStation VR, and if you’re into the bullet hell genre, it will probably tickle your fancy. The game is set in a 80’s era cyberpunk world complete with a Thor: Ragnarok-style soundtrack, and more neon than a late 90’s rave. The premise is simple, you must blast your way through waves of Grand Master Alwyn’s bullet spewing minions while also dodging and reflecting their incoming attacks, all in a virtual world. The gameplay may sound simple, but if you played a standard bullet hell game then you know that Blasters of the Universe will be far from a walk in the park. In fact, it packs quite a challenge, even on casual, so those gamers who live for extreme challenges and leaderboard glory will surely get their fill of both if their trigger finger is quick enough.
You can play the game in two different modes, both of which also offer two difficulty levels. The standard mode features five levels that provide increasing challenges as you progress through them. Each level also features a boss, which will appear after you spend a few minutes blasting and dodging your way through the basic minions. Calling them basic does them a disservice though, because even the standard minions can kick your ass if you’re not on your game. There’s also an endless mode, which is more for leaderboard glory seekers, because it just allows you to play on one of the five levels infinitely until you lose your last bit of life.
Blasters of the Universe also offers up time-based community challenges, which appear to change each week. The one I took part in timed me as I tried to blast 50 little robotic beetles faster than anyone else, which was quite fun and exhilarating I might add.
Considering that this game is all about blasting minions, it also puts a big focus on weapon customizations. In fact, the game boasts over 130,000 different weapon combinations that players can explore once they unlock all of the available attachments that can be equipped in the armory. You can swap out your gun’s barrel, body, scope, magazine, etc, in an effort to craft a weapon that meets your needs and plays to your abilities. You also have a shield, which can also be toggled to your liking.
In the game you use your franken-weapon and shield with two Move controllers. One represents your gun, while the other represents your shield. You’re placed on a circuit board of sorts in a stationary position, so you can’t move freely through a level. You’re locked in place, but can still move your head, which just so happens to be the only part of your body that can be struck by a projectile. Even though your locked in place, you will still move plenty while playing Blasters of the Universe, because once the action starts ratcheting up, the only way to progress is to bob and weave your head as if you’re in a boxing match. When you factor in the need to also be blasting seemingly endless waves of bullet hell spawning minions while also occasionally using your shield to reflect bullets you were too late to dodge, the challenge gets very real and engaging. There were times when I was weaving through bullet patterns so quickly and fluently that I felt like Neo pulling one of his bullet time tricks in the Matrix. The feeling of dodging an insane chain of bullets is intoxicating, so when combined with the thrill of blasting minions en route to taking on a level’s boss, Blasters of the Universe’s gameplay doesn’t disappoint in the least.
The experience is made even better thanks to the game’s solid technical design. The VR tracking works pretty well, even when ducking low and weaving in and out of bullets like a prize fighter. The visuals also look great, even on a standard PS4. The graphics were crisp looking, and never got the VR blur effect that some games can suffer from. The sound design on the other hand offers up a bit of chaos with all of the blasting action taking place, and the soundtrack channels the awesomeness of Thor: Ragnarok thanks to its cyberpunk-synth feel.
Blasters of the Universe is one of those VR games that is perfect for showing off the medium to gamers who have never tried VR. This is because it is technically sound, and offers solid VR gameplay, so it’s a great way to show off just how fun and immersive VR gaming can be when done right. If you like the challenge of a bullet hell game, but want to test your meddle in a VR setting, then this game is a great title to scratch that itch. It’s just fun and easy to get into, but very difficult to master and excel at. It’s even on sale until early March, so for $14.99 you can buy into an enjoyable VR gaming experience.
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Review Statement: The author of this review was provided a PS4 code by the publisher for the purposes of this review.