You know how it is; you’re bagging your groceries at the supermarket, when a giant watermelon rolls in with an angry expression intent on squishing you, so you grab your revolver from overhead and unload a round on him with one hand while continuing to scan your produce with the other. That damn fruit is so considerate, right?
No, we’re not talking about a bad trip, we’re talking about Shooty Fruity, the latest collaboration between The Assembly developer nDreams and Near Light, which worked on last year’s Perfect. Due for release later this year, its something of an amalgamation of two of VR’s most popular genres, creating an entertaining if derivative fruit salad of its own in the process.
Fruity Shooty mixes the slapstick take on mundane activities that was pioneered by Job Simulator with the wave-shooting action we’ve all come to know so well over the past year. Within that, nDreams likes to think it’s found something new; a game that transcends the immediate appeal of both of its inspirations with the added layer of a frantic balancing act that comes with trying to shoot things while carrying on with everyday life.
In terms of the supermarket mode (there are set to be several different game types), that means scanning shopping items while making sure advancing fruit doesn’t get too close. As you scan products you’ll earn cash that unlocks more powerful weapons, which appear at random above you. The standard pistol is all well and good but a machine gun or shotgun is essential for later waves where the difficulty really ratchets up. If you haven’t scanned enough items by then chances are you’re probably going to meet a very messy end.
It took a few goes, but I adapted to this mechanic pretty quickly and was able to scan with one hand pretty comfortably while holding off the hordes. If your weapon runs out of ammo then you’ll need to grab a new one, which can often leave you in tight spots waiting for a little firepower. There’s definitely an enticing underlying tension, and the game thrives on the player’s determination to get bigger and better scores.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say I had fun with Shooty Fruity, even if it’s all been seen before. For starters, it’s well-polished, with some of the better weapon handling I’ve seen in a VR game. Pistols have a real kick to them and there’s a real thrill to grabbing a shotgun at the last minute and blowing an orange out of the air. Its humor falls a little flat, though, coming off as a little ‘me too-ish’ in the face of Job Simulator and others. The game’s job listing themed press release even states ‘previous job simulation or virtual reality shooting experience is desirable’.
If nDreams wants anything slightly more memorable it has to inject a bit more identity into some of the other game modes. Truth be told I found juggling scanning and shooting to be a pretty simple process, and I could even carry out the former without really looking at what I was doing. The base concept of mixing everyday tasks with wave shooting has promise, though, and I could see takes on being a chef, bus driver, or something similar being quite a lot of fun if there’s a sufficient difficulty curve to it.
Right now, though, Shooty Fruity promises throwaway fun if not much else. With the wave shooter genre becoming increasingly saturated by the day, I’m not sure that in enough is itself. I’m more interested in more satirical takes on similar ideas, like the upcoming The American Dream. This, on the other hand, feels like a launch window VR game in a time where the industry finally seems to be moving beyond those basic experiences. I’m rooting for nDreams and Near Light to prove me wrong, though.
Shooty Fruity will launch on Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR (PSVR) later this year.