We’re now over three years past the launch of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, but developers are still making wave-based combat games. Although I initially wrote off Ninja Legends as just another wave-based VR game recycling assets and gameplay mechanics, it’s actually really fun and well-made with an addictive slow-motion system and satisfying ways to slice enemies in half and lop off body parts.
But don’t worry: this isn’t ultra-realistic gore and dismemberment like you’d find in games such as Blade & Sorcery, The Walking Dead: Onslaught, or Asgard’s Wrath. It’s got a very cartoon-style aesthetic which helps alleviate the subject matter and lets you focus on the fun of a good slash. What makes the system so fun is that it isn’t canned animations at all. If you slice through an enemy with enough force you can actually cleave the character model itself into bits.
Slice horizontally through the stomach? You just cut that ninja in half. Slice just the top of the head? Then you’ve lopped off the skull cap instantly. The same applies to body parts too — slice down diagonally and you could catch the arm, torso, and leg in one fell swoop. Frankly, it’s the kind of dismemberment I was hoping to see in a game such as Asgard’s Wrath.
I spent a little bit of time playing the Oculus Quest version and I had fun with it. There is some good environment variety, enemies actually keep you on your toes once you get deeper into the waves, and there are some good ideas at play.
My biggest gripe with Ninja Legends is the lack of physics on collisions. In Swords of Gargantua, Blade & Sorcery, and lots of other recent VR games weapons collide with the environment and other weapons so that you can’t phase them through objects. Or when you parry and block attacks, enemy weapons bounce off. Instead, Ninja Legends just has some haptic feedback and then shows a spark animation to let you know you blocked it. Otherwise, the enemy completes their attack as if they hit you.
For example, you can build up a special gauge to then unleash weapons other than your dual katanas, such as ultra-powerful arrows fired from a bow that makes the whole world go slow-motion. Everything slows down when you block as well, giving you time to retaliate with quick powerful slashes.
At its heart Ninja Legends is still just another wave-based combat game, which is a shame, but at least it isn’t a sci-fi wave shooter…right? It’s got 18 levels, 4 difficult modes, 6 different weapons, 4 different super skills, leaderboards, and daily challenges. Price is unknown still, but I can’t imagine it’ll be very pricey.
Coinflip Studios, the developer, was founded last year and this appears to be their first and only project so it’s not a bad showing for a new group of developers.
Ninja Legends is slated to hit Steam Early Access on July 11 with support for Rift, Vive, Index, and Windows VR and then is slated to come to Quest and Rift on Oculus Home in August. Let us know what you think down in the comments below!