‘The things you will be shown will defy your imagination.’
This was the promise made at the introduction of Vader Immortal for Oculus Quest. Intrigued, I decided to check it out. The first episode was released two years ago on the Oculus Rift, after all, so surely there was something good in this game — right? Well… yeah! But not without some bad too. So buckle up and let’s figure out how to fix that!
Let’s begin with what Ep2 does well: visuals, atmosphere, immersion (environmental). Visuals are fine — especially in places where there is very little light. Screenshots don’t really do it justice since everything is in 3D and mostly poorly lit. Not perfect lighting like Skyrim, for example, but enough to make the environment very immersive. Complemented by a wide range of sound effects — from dark and heavy breathing to lightsaber sounds, jumping and landing on metal floors, footsteps through water or sand… it’s definitely great! It all really helps you feel like you’re there.
Something I especially enjoyed was that, depending on where you look (often upwards), some objects will be more detailed than others: here’s a small example:
As for immersion (that is, keeping your mind focused and fully believing what you’re immersed in), this is something they got right as well. No point-and-click required unless you want it; instead, movement is done with real walking movements using the Oculus Touch controllers. You can also teleport (if you prefer) and change your view freely (to look at something to the left while walking forward, for example).
All in all, these are great features! And while I’ll explain why they didn’t actively help my enjoyment of the game later on, at least they tried. So let’s try to fix their mistakes now…
First off: removing/changing cutscenes that don’t add anything to the experience. Every other minute I was sitting through a 3D holographic projection which just made me feel disconnected from everything else since it wasn’t interactive. There were some exceptions where the player was free to move around during these scenes but even then, looking away once would trigger another scene — forcing me back in.
Secondly, change all movement to be done with hand controllers (or keyboard) . The worst example was when I had to use the lightsaber against Darth Vader at the end of the game. Not because it wasn’t epic but rather because everything felt clunky and unresponsive! It just didn’t work well enough for me — even though they did try to use gamepad input if you were wearing an Oculus Quest! That’s bad UX, so let’s fix it.
Thirdly, change around NPCs so that they don’t suddenly break immersion. Sometimes this was done by letting them magically know where I would show up next; other times by teleporting ahead / behind me without warning… And some NPCs were more considerate than others. I believe this was done purposefully to make some people feel nervous and/or on-edge (which I didn’t, but more on that later).
Finally: voice-overs weren’t bad, but could be improved. Sometimes they came too soon; sometimes they didn’t fit the lips… things like that, which made it seem like they recorded separate lines of dialogue and just put them all in one place as needed. This is a shame because even Darth Vader’s voice doesn’t feel as epic as it should! It simply sounds too human — which is weird for a guy with robotic lungs that sound all creaky when he breathes.
In spite of those points being mostly negative, this game has been very enjoyable overall. So don’t let this review discourage you from giving it a go! There are just some things that could have been better… and if they were, it would have made a great game even greater in my opinion.
At the very least, I hope this article might help in making Episode III even better for everyone!