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Sairento VR Review: Cybernetic Ninjas Meet Blood And Bullets

by David Jagneaux • February 7th, 2018
Platforms: Rift (reviewed) and Vive
Positives

- Exhilarating fast-paced gameplay
- In-depth upgrade and loadout systems
- Good game mode variety
- Strong sense of style

Negatives

- Often sporadic movement system
- Lots of aimless repetition
- Most weapons feel under-powered or inaccurate
- Level design and enemy variety leave a bit to be desired

The VR gaming market is still small enough and young enough that we have countless “firsts” left to discover. For example, everyone probably remembers the first zombie they killed in VR or the first time they were in a social experience and really felt like that was a real person in front of them.

Well now thanks to Sairento VR I will never forget the first time I jumped off the ground, ran along a wall, leaped off the wall, froze time in mid-air, sprayed bullets down below decapitating a robot ninja, and then landed on the ground, sliding in style, between another ninja’s legs as I sliced them in half while skidding by.

That’s one hell of a memorable thing to do in VR for the first time.

Fans of Survios’ Raw Data will very likely notice a lot of similarities here. It’s got a similar cyberpunk style with flashy action moments, swords, guns, and even time-slowing powers. However, the comparisons mostly end at a surface, mechanical level.

One of the most inventive things about Sairento VR, and something that will likely be contentious for a lot of people, is the movement system. Using your dominant hand you can point and press the thumbstick/trackpad to dash teleport across the ground or even leap through the air. Ground movement happens very quickly, but movement through the air is a bit slower and less weighted. It feels almost like the gravity was turned down, like a moon jump.

From the very start of the game you can double jump as well and push off of walls endlessly or run along runs just like out of a Matrix movie. Finally, if you jump and then crouch (as in physically bend your knees a bit) as you’re landing then your character slides across the level with satisfying speed. All of this adds up to establish Sairento as one of the most versatile VR games from a level traversal perspective. That being said, due to how the stutter-stepping nature of dash movement and leaping works it’s almost like you’re playing a game that’s constantly switching between fast-forwarding and pausing itself without ever just chugging along at a normal pace. There are moments of brilliance in the system, but more often than not it can cause confusion and a disjointed feeling.

Truthfully, combat is the real highlight of Sairento. In the first mission you’ll have your two trusty pistols at your side and two katanas at your back, but before long you’ll start to level up and unlock a whole host of weapons and upgrade slots. Everything from attack speed and cooldowns can be tweaked, or even gaining additional air jumps. Plus, each weapons has slots that can be upgraded with various enhancements you find out on missions. All of this is meaningless in the end though, as you’re granted a a wide range of choices that are never necessary or game-changing in the grand scheme of things. It’s depth for the sake of depth, but it has no meaning.

Sairento is a great example of a game that just wouldn’t work outside of VR at all. The closest example would be something like Shadow Warrior 2, but the gameplay is so different that it’s hard to even make the comparison.

Between the Campaign Mode, Arcade Mode, randomized missions, and Multiplayer there is a lot of stuff to do in Sairento VR. The Campaign is a bit brief and is over before it really feels completed, but it’s nice to have something that serves as sort of an elongated tutorial. When you first start up the game you can run it in Arcade mode as well, which is really just designed for actual Arcades to use, but would also make sense as an option if you’re demoing it to friends.

The semi-randomized missions pop up on a map with timers attached similar to how Payday 2 handles its mission map. This gives the game a more dynamic feeling to it rather than picking from a list of pre-made side missions. Many of these missions are much more difficult than the campaign, but gives a lot of variety to keep playing even after the main campaign is over.

After a few hours everything starts to bleed together in Sairento VR. Part of it has to do with the fact that you’re also dashing and jumping around levels so much that you never really appreciate anything around you, but it’s also due to the general lack of real variety. Most levels feel about the same and the majority of enemies just bull rush you either with guns or swords. It’s effective and lends plenty of excitement, but it’s far from intelligent enemy design in most cases.

Multiplayer runs well, but there just aren’t a lot of people online yet since Sairento just launched. Facing off against enemy players that have the same fast-paced movement skills as you really underscores how deliciously overpowered the player is against the AI enemies.

Final Score: 6/10 – Decent

Sairento VR is a game with a ton of stuff to do and some really fun core gameplay elements, but it just doesn’t feel like it all comes together well in the end. There’s a lack of meaningful depth, some glaring repetition, and a general lack of polish that holds this action-packed romp from truly achieving VR greatness.

Sairento VR is available for Rift on Oculus Home and Steam for both Rift and Vive. A PSVR release is planned for later this year. Read our Game Review Guidelines for more information on how we arrived at this score.

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  • Juan Ritz

    I completely agree with the negatives list, but this is still one of my favorite games to jump into for twenty minutes of crazy fun combat. The combat system just does a fantastic job of making you feel the kind of powerful that I had hoped VR could bring. When you get good enough with the control scheme, it becomes a ninja ballet. The game also offers just enough RPG elements that it set the hook with me for a while. Steam says that I have 20 hours into it, and that was all early access. The developer has been very active throughout EA, and hopefully they continue to piece the game together into a more cohesive whole. As is, I’d give it a 7.5, and on Steam it’s at 94% positive with over 650 reviews. If you’ve ever wanted to be an overpowered anime character, you should really check out Sairento.

    • Good summary! Games like this are going to strike everyone differently, but a 6 is definitely not a bad score on our scale. As it says, I consider this to very much be a “decent” game.

      • kool

        Your story checks out, a little stingy (i would have went 7) but fair…
        10 masterpiece
        9 classic
        8 excellent
        7 good
        6 decent
        5 trash
        4 broken
        3 broken trash
        2 scam likely
        1 robbery

  • Daffster

    Frankly this is a lazy review from someone who hasn’t bothered to get a grip on the title. You don’t unlock weapons during progression and haven’t done for some time. The relic system isn’t “meaningless” unless you have no idea what you’re doing with it. One relic can change the entire way the game is played (for instance there is one that basically turns the game to Superhot mode where time only moves when you do as well as endless ways to tailor the game to your preferred playstyle whether its stealth, run & gun or any other approach). This review reads as tho it was written by someone who played the game in early access and couldn’t really be bothered to look again at the full release or understand the core mechanics of some of the games main elements and the score reflects that rather than the game. This is not to say all the criticism isn’t valid, some points are (repetition in the procedurally generated levels for example) but its certainly not a fair overview or score as you can ascertain looking at most other reviews.

    • I waited to play the game until a release build was given to me so this review is based on the current version, not Early Access. That’s awesome that you love the game so much! A 6 is not a bad score at all, there is a lot of fun to be had here.

  • dan bryant

    One of the best vr games around
    It makes you feel like a bad ass!

  • Wyrd

    Lackluster reviews really take the wind out of the sails for the “coming later to…” crowd, whoever that may be (PSVR in this case). Downside/risk of not launching all at once I guess. Oh well, seems like it’ll be a bit of fun on sale eventually.

  • JDawg

    To me a game’s rating should be based on how much you’d recommend the game to others. I’ve had more fun in Sairento then 90% of the other VR games ya’ll have rated higher. For me this game is a 9/10 for how much I’d recommend it to others.

  • ummm…

    is it just my computer with a 1080ti thats melting?