Megaton Rainfall has an elegant solution to the problem of over powered players. While the game’s base mechanics of flying around and shooting alien invaders as an invincible superhero might be fun for a few minutes, the lack of challenge would undoubtedly wear thin fast. Instead of toning down your abilities, then, the game instead asks you to use your powers carefully while acting quickly to preserve as much human life as possible.
I haven’t yet played the title, developed by Pentadimensional Games, in its PlayStation VR (PSVR) mode, but I did go hands-on with the traditional 2D version a week before launch at EGX. What I found was a game that could be a surprise hit for the headset, if players have the stomach for it.
Megaton Rainfall is like mixing a superhero simulation with Google Earth. You can fly around the entirety of a procedurally generated planet, visiting various cities, swooping down to street level to watch cars and weaving between skyscrapers. There’s an empowering and promising sense of freedom as you begin the game from space, overlooking Earth. I’m not sure how much variety the world will have, nor how long it will take to traverse it, but the idea of being able to fly across an entire planet in minutes is an exciting one.
Sadly, you don’t have much time to explore; a marker shows you where aliens are making their first attack, and you’ll cut across the skies to arrive there in seconds, entering Earth’s atmosphere in fiery style. Alien craft hover about cities, blowing up buildings, and you have to stop them before the loss of life is too great. Classic UFO-style ships are easily beaten by hitting a red weak point on top, but there are also faster, more slippery vessels that pound into the sides of buildings, and snake-like machines that worm their way through skylines with little care for the results. In the space of the five minute demo the enemy variety was encouraging, and I hope new types continue to surprise me in the full game.
The tech on display here was pretty incredible. Watching cities realistically crumble based on why an enemy has hit them is often jaw-dropping, and something I can’t wait to see in VR. Crucially, the energy blasts that you fire will also knock buildings down, so you’ll have to take great care when facing foes from afar. Some baddies will event reflect blasts that don’t hit their weak points, with unintended consequences.
Once you’ve cleared up swarms of minions you’ll also have to take down a mother ship but stopping its city-toppling laser beam as it charges. If you fail you’ll be admittedly treated to a very cool scene of the area around you going up in flames.
Ultimately I was surprised by just how much I liked what I played of Megaton Rainfall. What I wonder, though, is how much of the experience I’d seen in the five minutes I played. Are there new enemy types, different kinds of environments and other kinds of objectives? If so this might have the variety and longevity to be a surprise hit for PSVR.
It’s an encouraging sign that I enjoyed Megaton Rainfall so much on a 2D screen, because it means I absolutely can’t wait to try it out in VR. In fact I’m left wondering if the experience will hold up under the technical constraints of the PS4; will buildings still crumble? Will we be able to fly as fast? I’m hoping that’s the case.
I also wonder just how comfortable Pentadimensional will have been able to make the game in VR. I know that optional field of view restrictions are in place, which should help a lot, but I often found myself upside down, turning tight corners and suddenly stopping as I flew head-first into baddies and buildings. It struck me that this would be an incredibly intense experience for players and not something that everyone with a headset would be able to handle, so take caution if you’re prone to VR sim sickness. That said, if you do struggle then you can still enjoy the traditional game as well.
Megaton Rainfall hits PSVR next week. A price hasn’t yet been revealed.