It’s taken a bit longer than expected, but Pocket Money Games’ Dimension Hunter is finally here. I was impressed with what I played of the opening level earlier in the year, and the developer had plenty of great ideas for the rest of the campaign. Did all of that translate into a successful VR shooter?
Well, yes and no.
There’s a lot of stuff I really like about Dimension Hunter, in which you explore a spaceship, taking out enemy invaders while hopping between genre-themed dimensions every other level. I love its stylish black and white visuals, constant location switch-ups and some of its cover-based gameplay. Not to mention that it’s rare to see a full locomotion shooter that feels this focused. But, at the same time, the gameplay is a little too simple and there are some frustrations with the short campaign.
Though Dimension Hunter offers free locomotion using Vive’s trackpad or Touch’s sticks, it’s also got an on-rails movement option, and the game has clearly been designed more with that movement style in mind. You progress along linear paths, usually in corridor-sized spaces, pausing every few seconds to take out the next wave of enemies. Every baddie is scripted to either run to, or appear in a specific spot and then attack you, and icons show you who is about to attack next. It feels very Time Crisis, with the free locomotion option almost acting as a bonus for a community hungry for that option.
Gameplay is often satisfying, if basic. Dimension Hunter’s best moments will have you pinned down by enemy fire, ducking in and out of cover to trade shots with the enemy. With two pistols in hand it’s easy to get carried away and leap out, guns blazing, but on higher difficulties it’s best to get behind a wall, as health depletes fast. Toss in an exploding barrel here, a Half-Life-style gravity gun there and a time slowing mechanic and there are enough elements to keep things palatable for the hour or two it’ll take to shoot through the campaign.
Some of the genre-based levels don’t fare as well though, simply asking you to march forward taking down scores of enemies that mindlessly rush you. There are some cool locations to visit; a zombie-ridden city is nicely detailed as is a trip to hell (as close to Doom VR as you’ll get until, well, Doom VFR), but there are also areas where level design falls flat, like a generic trip through prehistoric times or a series of caves in which goblins attack. At first the rush of baddies can feel brilliantly stressful, but once you perfect shooting from the hip they cause few issues. Plus these levels are short, lasting anywhere between five to 15 minutes, which is a blessing in disguise considering there’s no checkpoint system and you’ll restart areas from scratch every time you die.
Each level ends with a boss encounter, which are also a mixed bag. I really loved a bullet hell-style showdown with a minigun-wielding enemy and a desperate rush to blast away a swarm of drones, but several levels simply have giant enemies slowly marching towards you, and if you don’t pull the trigger fast enough it’s all the way back to the beginning.
I would have liked to see a little more variety to those boss encounters, and enemies in general as you’ve seen their two attack types about 10 minutes into the game. Every few levels you’ll get a new alternate fire mode for one pistol that will charge between uses, but I didn’t really need to use them outside of the boss encounters. Levels do have an arcade twist, as you can compete for high scores made by landing headshots, though I largely forgot about this feature during the course of the game.
Dimension Hunter would probably be a lot less likable if it wasn’t for its pleasing comic book aesthetic. The visuals may not be state of the art but they pop nicely and enemy designs are fittingly stylish. One great touch is the ability to change soundtracks at the start of each level, selecting something more to your tastes. This does a great job of capturing the game’s gung-ho style, allowing you to more fully enjoy getting wrapped up in the explosions.
As an on-rails shooter, Dimension Hunter offers simple, stylish shooter fun with an appreciated free locomotion option. Ultimately it’s little more than an hour or two of brainless shooting, but there are some great highlights along the way that made me happy I took the trip. If you’ve got an itchy trigger finger, Dimension Hunter will serve you just right.