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Robo Recall Review – Dancing Through a Storm of Bullets

by Kevin Ohannessian • March 1st, 2017
Platform: Oculus Rift with Touch
Positives

- Frantic shooter action
- Effective controls using Oculus Touch
- Solid graphics via Unreal Engine

Negatives

- Repetition
- Repetition
- Repetition

One, two, three shotguns blasts and the most dangerous robot is junk. I teleport behind the two already shooting at me, grabbing my revolvers from my hips. As they fall, I turn to look at the newcomer already firing. I grab a bullet mid-air and fling it back at him, then teleport to the other side of the street. I take another shotgun from my back and prepare for the next wave.

Robo Recall is the latest free release for Oculus Touch, this one a collaboration between Oculus Studios and Epic Games, the company behind the ubiquitous Unreal Engine, Gears of War, and Unreal Tournament. Robo Recall has been presaged by Epic’s Showdown and Bullet Train demos, but now the full results of the company’s labor have arrived.

The First Person Shooter (FPS) is one of the most revered genres of PC gaming, but it is probably the hardest to do well in VR. Most traditional FPS games move you at a pace that will make most people absolutely sick in VR. And aiming with a crosshair inside an HMD via mouse or Xbox controller isn’t very intuitive, but the arrival of motion controllers like the Vive wands and Oculus Touch banishes that limitation.

In Robo Recall, you are Agent 34 of the Robo Ready corporation. Your task is to “recall” robots that are out of control in the city, slowly uncovering that the seemingly random malfunctions are the work of an AI named Odin. Through three levels divided into nine total missions you will face him and his mechanical minions.

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But is your duty as a Recall agent any fun? Well, how could teleporting around and destroying robots be anything but fun? You point with a Touch controller, gesturing with both your arm and the analog stick, painting a spot with a target. When you let go of the analog stick, you teleport there. Time is temporarily slowed, allowing you to shoot enemies leaping through the air or running at you. Just grab guns from your back or your hips and start firing away.

Waves of robots come in a variety of types with different weapons. So you are hopping around to dodge attacks, get better angles on enemies, or get away from being surrounded. And you shoot in response, managing the use of your four weapons, always balancing out the ammo so that you aren’t stuck waiting there while an empty gun is still being respawned.

If you are weaponless, you can get close and grab enemies from certain points indicated by white circles. Rather than holding the Touch’s grip button like when you hold a weapon, you press the button to hold the robot. Then you can even use the other hand to grab another part of the bot and tear it in two. Ripping your arms about in those instances  is incredibly satisfying. You can also grab a robot’s guns to use against them.

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The moments of just teleporting around and dispatching enemies are interrupted by Time Trials to destroy a certain amount in two minutes or capture a particular number of robots by grabbing them and throwing them into an energy funnel that will teleport them away. Other times you might defend a relay for two minutes by killing all the enemies that try to attack it. And there are of course boss battles to survive.

If the frantic turning and teleporting, weapon juggling and bullet throwing overwhelms you, you will take damage. If not enough time passes for your life to regenerate, the screen turns red and you’re dead. After a 10% respawn fee you are immediately back in the action.

This is a minor setback, except that loss of points might cost you. As you make kills, you earn points. Do more stylish things like headshots, juggles, and simultaneous kills, and you get more points. The more points you get on levels, the more stars you earn. Hitting certain thresholds of stars will unlock new weapons or upgrades for the weapons you already have, such as laser sights, bigger ammo magazines, and more.

Each level also has a variety of challenges that earn you additional stars. Kill 10 robots by ripping them apart or only use scavenged weapons for a whole mission. And after finishing all of the challenges in a level, you unlock All-Star mode for it, where the difficulty of the game is kicked up a notch. There are leaderboards so you can compare how your score in each mission or All-Star version of it compares to the rest of your friends’ or the world’s.

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These challenges and leaderboards, after beating the game’s 9 missions gives you a slight reason to go back and play Robo Recall again. Completionists will find getting all the stars difficult, but it is impressive to see the guns evolve into more and more lethal weapons. And it does help to have an excuse to jump back into a mission from the beginning of the game long after you have defeated Odin.

But this replayability also points to the game’s biggest flaw: repetition. The nine levels aren’t really that different, except for a handful of new enemies that come up and the boss fights on every third level. That is a nearly identical bossfight in missions 1-3, 2-3, and 3-3. And within the levels you are either shooting freely, shooting within a time limit, capturing within a time limit, or fighting the boss. More variety would be appreciated. There is mod support available for users to tinker with, but who knows how much variety that will really bring over time — it’s up to the community.

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Final Score: 7.5/10 – Very Good

Robo Recall has solid graphics and fun gameplay. As a free title for Oculus Touch it is more than worthwhile to give the game a go. Those frantic moments of shooting action are so thrilling that you are just swept up in it. But after several instances of such moments, the thrill dies and the barebones story and light humor doesn’t elevate the game enough in a meaningful way. You may not have the endurance to keep playing to beat your highscores, earn more stars, and upgrade your weapons — enabling you to beat your highscores and begin the process all over again. But even if you aren’t in the game for the long haul, the initial trip of ~3 hours is quite a ride worth taking.

Robo Recall will be available for free on Oculus Home to all Oculus Touch owners as of today. Read our Game Review Guidelines for more information on how we arrived at this score.

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  • Mane Vr

    So glad this is FREE the teleporting locomotion only really sucks but it’s free so i guess i will give it a try

  • dan bryant

    Cool downloading now
    Good to see it has nine levels to play
    I was expecting this to be a twenty minutes and it’s done type of deal

  • Justos

    Honestly I would have rated it higher, you make it seem like mod support is nothing special.

    This could add a ton of content to the game. I know i will be taking a look at whats possible myself.

    • Mane Vr

      yea i’m excited for mods mainly cause I hope someone adds full locomotion with rotation at this moment I really hate the teleporting in this game and doubt I will play it again till I hear about a mod that adds it to this game

    • jlschmugge

      I am hoping that the mod support opens the door for the community to make something innovative in VR developers haven’t thought of.

  • Mike

    Just played this and it was pretty fun.

    Positive
    Its free
    Holstering of the guns, very natural to pull guns off hips or your back.
    Grabbing the robots, ripping apart and throwing was extremely satisfying
    The graphics are great
    The opening watching the TV and the robots turning actually made me a little scared and I jumped haha
    It’s very smooth, from the menu to loading to game play.
    I like tongue-in-cheek humor and this delivers that, if not a little repetitive at times
    The sound works well, indicating something is to your left or right which gives you time to react
    Not tried the Mods yet, but this has the potential to really create a game you can come back to and try again. Always super interesting to see what others come up with when they have the potential to mod.

    Negatives
    Teleport – Urg! I’m not sure of a better way. But the teleport and rotate to point this way or that is annoying and easy to lose track of where you are and what you will be looking at when you get there, possible I will get better at it with practice.
    The ammo count been a floating number next to the gun, this was a real surprise to me and really sucks I would have expected this to be on the guns rather than just floating in mid air. In fact I’m sure Oculus released a few articles about how you should avoid doing things like that, there are a couple of HUD things in the game that would be better built into the environment in some way.
    I’m not sure I like the “Get Ready” arcade style thing, it lost some of the feeling of the world and made it feel more like a wave shooter game, which of course it is but still I would have preferred to feel like I’m completing a mission in the world rather than playing a arcade game in the rift. (If that makes any sense at all haha)
    Not sure I understand the timers either. Why have I got two minutes to destroy as much as possible two mins until what? … this made no sense at all. I could understand kill these 100 robots as quickly as possible.
    Even though the holsters are fun I would have liked someway to reload the guns rather than throw away. (Hold a button and flip the controller up, or tap both guns together, something like that)

    Overall its a great freebie and should provide many hours of fun game play. If you have touch, why wouldn’t you get this game?

  • jlschmugge

    Anyone having an issue with the teleportation and front facing in this game? This game has me spinning in circles, so it seems I’m always seeing that face forward warning, plus whenever I teleport to face a certain direction, I’m never coming out the other end facing the direction I want since it orients relative to the front cameras, not the direction I’m facing.

    Does this turn off if you have three cameras?

    • LaRocky

      Yes, you don’t see the warning if you have 3+ cameras.

  • Doctor Bambi

    Huh, no mention of the killer soundtrack! The moment the Unreal Logo shows up during boot, it caught my attention and got me totally pumped for some robot slaying mayhem.

  • It has been my favourite Touch DEmo! Can’t wait to try the free game now!!

  • Mario-Galouzeau de Bocsa

    This game has the potential of being the first killer app for VR, after patch for teleport and more content ( mods or patch ). I’ll never understand Upload’s ratings 7.5 for this one and 9.5 for Damaged Core ? Common !

  • JustNiz

    Looks good fun, shame its just a(nother) wave shooter and not a full storyline game though.

  • Scott Stobbe

    Am I the only one who enjoyed Damaged Core more than Robo Recall so far?