Kungfucious Makes You A VR Kung Fu Master With Some Caveats

by Jamie Feltham • February 5th, 2019

I’ve gotta hand it to Gattai Games; they’re not one to stick to a template. The studio’s debut VR game, Stifled, was an interesting mix of horror and echolocation in VR. But the team’s latest project, Kungfucious, is something completely different.

As the name implies, Kungfucious wants to make you a kung fu master in VR, and it’s got some surprisingly good ideas on how to do that. Rather than trying to teach you complicated moves that would no doubt descend into anarchy, the game hones in on one core mechanic. Every enemy you face has pressure points, represented with blue orbs. Using two fingers (done by holding certain buttons), you poke at these areas in almost rhythmic fashion. Striking enough of them will reveal a larger weak spot that you can punch for much more devastating damage.

It’s a solid idea that works wonders under certain conditions. Calmly prodding at your opponent as they execute dramatic kicks and punches carries the collected, measured feeling that you’d imagine it would. You’ll find it too tempting to get into character and strike ridiculous poses as you play. Slow motion moments are put to perfect use to give action a cinematic, Superhot-esque edge. You dodge or parry attacks to slow down time and give yourself a few seconds to attack.

When everything comes together, Kungfucious is reassuringly empowering.

The magic only works when the game does and, in this free demo, that’s not very often. I’m sure Gattai has plenty of work left to do with Kungfucious and that this is merely a taster; it’s just a five wave battle. That said, enemies routinely forget you exist and stand around looking angry at the air. If they surround you at one then the game quickly turns into a mad and confusing scramble. I don’t say any of this damningly; this is clearly a tech demo and should be judged as such. That said I’m looking forward to playing a more stable build.

Haptics is also an elephant in the room. Until the days in which we can actually feel every punch and prod, games like Kungfucious are going to have an inherent strangeness to them. It’s hard to define the game’s boundaries when there aren’t any physical barriers.

Gattai does have some other nice touches, though. Using specific gestures you can execute special moves using Chi. It adds a touch of Dragonball to the proceedings (one move is essentially a kamehameha) and suggests there’s more to explore here beyond the core hook.

These are solid foundations for something pretty great, then. Kungfucious needs a lot of work to get there, and I’d hope to see better application of these mechanics than a simple wave-based game. But, like the masters of old, we should all practice a little a patience waiting for this one. It’s bound to be rewarded.

Kungfucious’ demo is available to download for free here. Developer Gattai is accepting donations to continue work.

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