The first time you lay eyes on Reboant you think it’s too good to be true. Screenshots and trailers promise AAA production values, with visuals that frankly rival industry-leading games. But this is a game that’s seemingly appeared from thin air promising a full shooter experience for the HTC Vive; Chinese developer DarkLord is surely pulling the wool over our eyes, right?
Well, based on the short demo now on Steam (bizarrely priced at $0.99), it’s still a little hard to tell. Reboant is indeed visually arresting; from the moment you pull on the headset you’ll find yourself closely inspecting the immaculate detail DarkLord has layered into the environments and character models. Artistically, it feels like stepping into a Gears of War game with the full might of Microsoft’s production values behind it, though it doesn’t quite measure up to the finely-tuned screenshots.
You soon find yourself on a strange alien planet with a squad of gruff soldiers. Again, the character models are absolutely stunning, though the voice acting is traditionally on the nose. There’s not much explanation for where you are and why you’re there, but you’ll spend too much time gawking at the visuals to really care.
There are a few tricks employed that may have helped DarkLord set this bar, though. Firstly, the alien planet setting is surrounded by mist, which makes the game’s draw distances very short. It smartly uses this to create some intense shootouts, but it will be interesting to see if the entire game is drowned in this fog or if we’ll get some more spectacular environments than the relatively barren landscape you explore in the demo.
Unlike every other Vive shooter, Reboant doesn’t seem to feature dual-wielding weapons, at least not in the demo. Instead, you get a fairly standard assault rifle that you fire with one hand, while your other hand sort of acts as a grappling hook; you aim it at the ground and fire a spring-loaded fist, which grabs the floor and then drags you in that direction. It’s a nice way to feature comfortable locomotion whilst still retaining immersion; you’re free you walk around with room-scale in the area around you but when it’s time to move on you’ll need to use this grappling system.
These features aside, though, Reboant strikes me as a fairly simplistic shooter. As you explore your misty surroundings, Golem-like monsters bound up to you, ready to strike, and you’ll get a moments’ slow-motion effect to take care of them if they get too close. There’s definitely an uncomfortable tension to wading through the fog, hearing the snarl of your enemies get closer, and turning round to see one in your face, but they’re quickly taken care of and the monotony of being lost soon replaces any excitement.
And, for all of the excellent production values, I didn’t see anything here that would really make me care for my squad or play to VR’s real strengths. It seemed to offer everything I’ve already done 1,000 times in VR, just looking a bit prettier.
Reboant does hint at bigger and better things to come, with enemies armed with their own weapons appearing at the end, but right now it seems like the visuals are the main reason to check this shooter out. Hopefully it can offer some more compelling reasons come launch. It’s due for release in early 2018.