Riding a rollercoaster in VR isn’t usually the best use of the medium. The sense of acceleration and continued locomotion — without a cockpit to ground you or physical feedback to trick your brain — can often lead to some form of motion sickness. I’ve never been the type that is particularly prone to those issues, and VR coasters still make my gut wrench occasionally. That’s a big reason why I was at first apprehensive, but eventually pleasantly surprised, by the intense thrill ride that is RollerForce from Headtrip Games on Steam.
It never made me sick, even if I did find myself leaning forward and side-to-side in unison with my virtual ride.
In RollerForce, you’ll hop on different courses across two distinct worlds in a pulse-pounding adventure through exotic alien planets. At first, it resembles a half sci-fi, half psychedelic rollercoaster that you may come across in any traditional amusement park, but that perception quickly changes once enemies start trying to kill you.
Once you’ve launched onto the track, you’ll have to keep your head on a swivel and your trigger finger ready to unload on the enemies and obstacles in your way. Each of your motion-tracked Vive controllers is turned into a cyber pistol that shoots brightly colored neon missiles. Since the tracks are rather long with multiple laps each, I found myself often holding down the trigger rather than repeatedly pulling it like I would an actual gun — otherwise my hands started cramping.
Since the coaster moves so quickly, the missiles never actually appear to be exiting the guns accurately at all. The trail they leave behind either has a slight delay, or can’t spawn quickly enough from the tip of the pistols. It’s most noticeable if you’re turned to your side and try shooting at moving targets.
And because the game moves so quickly, lining up shots is a lot easier said than done. You’ll have to spend time practicing the timing of the different turns and dips in each track so you can accurately lead your target when firing.
All of the tracks do a great job of feeling unique. Each planet has two core levels, along with both forward and backward progression along the same track. That in and of itself creates 8 different courses, in addition to a “Free Ride” track on each world, adding up to 10 total.
When playing a standard, non-Free Ride level, the action can get very intense. The more difficult tracks I found myself struggling to stay alive, as enemies and homing missiles were flying at me from all sides. When you’re able to keep track of the chaos, RollerForce feels like an adrenaline-pumping rush of a good time, but during those moments of confusion, the action can get a bit overwhelming.
It’s still a bit difficult for developers to adequately telegraph and communicate concepts in VR — especially while playing a fast-paced shooter like this — considering that there’s no way of knowing which direction a player is necessarily facing. It seemed like enemies were constantly attacking from angles I couldn’t anticipate, and it was difficult to keep track of everything. This was less of an issue on the first 4 or so courses, but was compounded on the more difficult tracks.
Every course is open from the start of the game and each of your guns only has a single shot laser — in one of two colors — so there isn’t much variety or progression. It’s a simple game with a simple focus of providing intense and fun action in bite-sized chunks.
Back when the game was first announced, there was clearly a heavy emphasis on building up excitement for the action and intensity within the game and it doesn’t disappoint. Despite the frustrating moments of chaos and lack of real depth or variety, there is plenty of fun to be had. RollerForce isn’t groundbreaking, but it has enough mindless shooting action to provide a decent amount of entertainment.
RollerForce is now available on Steam for $4.99 with support for HTC Vive. You can play the game either seated or standing, but we’d recommend sitting if you’re concerned about motion sickness. Oculus support will be included once Touch releases.
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