‘Serious Sam VR’ Early Access: Like A Blast From The Past With A Modern VR Twist

by David Jagneaux • October 15th, 2016

When we first learned about Serious Sam VR during E3 2016 earlier this year, it came a bit out of nowhere, but at the same time it made perfect sense. We weren’t exactly expecting a VR adaptation of the classic gory shooter franchise, but that doesn’t mean his wise-cracking bombastic action felt out of place. In fact, it felt like a natural iteration of the franchise when we went hands-on with the rip-roaring slaughter fest for the first time.

Now that Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope is about to complete its jump to VR and release on Steam Early Access next week on October 17th, we took the time to dive back in for another go at the world Croteam built with the help of publisher Devolver Digital.

The Serious Sam franchise is a game series about action, gore, and over-the-top good times. The plot is often barely thick enough to make sense and the ratio of action to exposition is roughly 95% to 5%, give or take. After rolling through large levels full of hundreds of enemies, you’ll rest up by killing just a few more hundred enemies once again.

Now, the VR iteration retains a lot of that same DNA, but it’s in a very different package. At first glance, you’ll look at the screenshots and trailers and probably think that it just looks like “another wave shooter” and frankly, that isn’t an incorrect description. You stand in one place and all of the game’s enemies come charging at you from within your general 180-degree field of view. You can’t move around the environment like in Raw Data and you won’t have to spin around to shoot surprise enemies behind you like in The Brookhaven Experiment. My gut tells me the limited range of movement was a conscious decision to allow them to bring the experience to both the Rift and PS VR eventually.

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Instead, in Serious Sam VR, you’ll literally be standing in one place and only face enemies that are funneled towards your location. It’s a bit restrictive, to be frank, and sometimes feels like a feature that you’d see in a separate, more robust full game, but it’s still fun.

Some enemies may get ambitious and instead of running directly at your bullets, try to come at you from the side, but for the most part you don’t really need to move your legs at all — just your head, arms, and torso. And for what it’s worth, you will move those parts of your body a lot if you want to have any success. It may be a relatively basic wave shooter, but that doesn’t mean that it’s boring or easy.

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In the Early Access version of the Serious Sam VR, there are two planet missions to pick from: Earth and Pladeon. Each planet mission is broken up into four waves, each of which is in a completely different environment. After completing the first section with just your standard unlimited laser pistols, you can spend your cash that you earned buying new guns, refilling ammo, and regaining your health. By the time you reach the final area of a mission, you’ll likely have a mostly full arsenal of weapons to pick from.

Thankfully, just like any Serious Sam game, that arsenal is the real star of the show. You’ve got such a wide assortment of weapons to pick from, you could easily spend hourse replaying missions with different loadouts just to see what fits your playstyle best.

In addition to the standard laser pistols, there are shotguns, tommy guns, assault rifles, heavy laser guns, rocket launches, chainsaws, and yes — a minigun. The physically created prop that we detailed recently isn’t available for purchase, but it’s digital counterpart is in the game and it’s just as glorious to use as you’d hope.

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Serious Sam VR is a relatively intense affair by all accounts. Even on the easiest difficulty setting, waves are relentless. You’ll quickly need to become accustomed to aiming with each hand, simultaneously, at different areas of the world, to take out enemies. There are few things that feel as badass as wielding a rocket launcher in one hand and a minigun in the other, pointed at two different enemies, lighting them up and spewing blood across the map. In this way, The Last Hope feels like you’re living out scenes from the cover art of previous Serious Sam games.

And that’s about it. Your fingers are gonna cramp up from squeeze the trigger of your Vive wands so many times, you’re gonna sweat from ducking and weaving out of the way of energy balls and rockets, and you’ll probably curse a bit when you get steamrolled by a horde of alien scorpions for the fifth time on the same damn wave. It’s simple and shallow, but it’s also intense and a hell of a lot of fun.

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Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope releases onto Steam Early Access on October 17th, 2016 for $39.99. As the game receives updates, the price is expected to stay the same. Future updates will include more missions, environments, enemies, weapons, power-ups, and a skill tree. Oculus Rift support is coming once the Touch controllers release.

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