Six months on and London Heist is arguably still PSVR’s best shooter. That’s something of a problem, considering there’s only about about 15 minutes of gunplay to it. Given the genre’s dominance in the wider gaming industry, it’s surprising that we haven’t seen more of them on Sony’s platform so far, but at least Mortal Blitz offers a longer — if still all too brief — taste of action.
Given the recent wave of underwhelming, somewhat rushed PSVR games from Asian territories (Dying Reborn, Weeping Doll, Pixel Gear), you’d be forgiven for thinking this first-person shooter from Korean studio Skonec Entertainment wouldn’t be worth your time. As it turns out, Mortal Blitz is a pleasingly capable shooter that channels the arcade action of what’s proving to be a seminal series for VR: Time Crisis.
I mean that for both better and worse. On a purely physical level, this is the logical evolution of the light gun game in VR. Set in a distant future with muscle-bound meatheads that wouldn’t look out of place in a Gears of War game, you use two Move controllers to dual wield weapons, gunning down swarms of faceless enemies that pour in through doors and windows, all too happy to catch a bullet. To take cover you’ll need to duck your head down below waist-high crates or lean into the sides of doors and walls. It also lets you play with just one Move controller or even one or two DualShock 4 gamepads with motion controls, which is appreciated.
This is the sort of game that you’ll need to clear out some space for in order to get the best experience. You can play from either seated or standing positions, and if you choose the latter be prepared to do a lot of ducking and diving. While it’s hard to avoid bullets, you can give yourself a pretty steady supply of health using the amusingly titled ‘Groggy System’ mechanic.
That involves weakening an enemy to the point that they become stunned, and then grabbing them with a Bulletstorm-esque laser leash and using it to yank them into the air. The game cuts to slow motion and you’ll get bonus points and items depending how many times you then shoot the enemy, with an Unreal Tournament-esque adjective like ‘Slayer’ being rewarded upon completion.
If you couldn’t tell, by the way, the Unreal Engine 4-developed Mortal Blitz certainly feels like a tribute to Epic Games at times. Fittingly, then, the story makes absolutely no sense, and it seems like major plot points and cut-scenes were simply cut as you jump between the five missions. Tellingly, it’s adapted from a location-based VR arcade game in Korea, so it’s likely some content has been cut.
At its best, Mortal Blitz is a challenging thrill. Keeping yourself pinned to the floor while gunfire rains down upon you is intense and unnerving, especially as even poking your head out just a little will attract bullets like a giant magnet. Sadly, the game doesn’t really offer much else.
From a design standpoint, Mortal Blitz feels a little too much like it is still 1995. The game features about five enemy types, none of which hugely differ in tactics save for some drones. They’ll march in, find a spot to shoot you from, and then wait there to die. And that’s the whole 1 – 2 hour experience in a nutshell. You can use more powerful guns with limited ammunition, and throwing grenades back with your leash is a lot of fun, but repetition is the game’s main enemy.
In fact, even Time Crisis was more varied when it comes to environments; Mortal Blitz just alternates between a train setting and a drab facility between levels, and the last mission in particular even repeats the patterns in which you teleport and attack for 10 minutes.
Still, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have fun running through the campaign, which Skonec plans to expand upon with future episodes. There are more difficulty modes to run through once you’ve beaten it the first time and there’s a bog-standard target practice extra, which you can use to chase trophies should you so desire.
For both better and worse, Mortal Blitz is effectively Time Crisis in VR. In some ways, it’s the game you dreamed of playing since you first picked up a G-Con gun in 1995; physically taking cover and trading fire with the enemy can be intense and thrilling. At the same time, though, its design is overly simplistic, and lacks the twists and hooks we’ve come to expect as the VR shooter begins to move into its second year. There’s plenty fun to be had here, but it’s dated even by VR’s standards.
Mortal Blitz will be available on the PlayStation Store in the US on April 5th. Read our Game Review Guidelines for more information on how we arrived at this score.