Space combat games are an ideal fit for VR. There’s nothing quite like the illusion of sitting in the cockpit of you own starfighter and even on the Gear VR, there are several to choose from. The newly-released Starfighter Arduxim is another one entering that increasingly competitive scene.
Starfighter Arduxim by Fulby Technologies feels quite indie, and is made by a single developer in Unity, but that’s not a bad thing generally. It’s not as polished as, say, Anshar Wars 2 or even End Space — which are still two of the most impressive of its genre on the platform — but the move to VR lets the scope of space work wonders in overcoming graphical issues. Arduxim look like it was built on older 3D tech, so the graphics are less organic and more blocky.
This is especially noticeable in the overall cockpit, which doesn’t have a curve anywhere in sight. Giant asteroids are pretty low-res in appearance, but the ships, while angular, are clearly more detailed than any other aspect of the game. That makes sense though, and allows for a terrific sense of scope with the gigantic space stations and capital ships. The smaller fighter crafts have a nicely alien sense of style to them, utilizing the sharp, angular graphics to good effect to create pointy, spear, and blade-like crafts to blow up.
Starfighter Arduxim also absolutely requires a control pad on Gear VR, and can be played with either a gamepad, flight stick, or HOTAS on Rift. It’s an interesting mix of head tracking and traditional game controls. All ships controls are handled with the pad, but a secondary aiming reticle follows your head and is how you actually aim your guns. This means you can fly in one direction, while aiming at least somewhat in other directions, similar to EVE: Valkyrie’s missiles in a way.
The guns still require the target to be ahead of you. You can’t, for instance, aim at something behind or to the side of your ship. Keeping track of two reticles is oddly confusing though, so it’s easy to lose track of one or the other. When thrown into combat, your fighter has an array of main guns and secondary weapons such as lasers, or shotgun-like spread shots and standard or guided missiles in your arsenal, for example. The further into the game you get, the more weapon options become available.
Arduxim offers several different game modes to use all these guns in as well. The main single-player campaign is twelve missions long, which feels a bit light. These missions cover the usual range of straight up combat, search and destroy, protection, and various other objectives that tend to all boil down to just blowing things up.
Once you get through the story (or even if you don’t), there’s a fairly feature-packed survival mode that lets you just enjoy the space combat without the interference of a story or objectives beyond merely surviving. Finally, there’s also online multiplayer deathmatches and survival, but honestly, the game has yet to earn enough of a following to make finding matches viable.
Starfighter Arduxim generally provides a reasonably competent shooting and flying experience, but there are some key issues that really set it back. The most glaring issue is the pacing. There are only 12 missions, but many of them feel like a slow-paced slog. Arduxim relies heavily on its “warp” function, that lets you ride through a psychedelic space tunnel to quickly reach waypoints, but within a mission area, the ship moves so slowly that it jars the overall action pretty badly. Even at full throttle, the game is dealing with massive spaces and it takes time to get anywhere. Most space shooters deal with this problem with a speed boost of some kind that recharges quickly and lets you effortlessly zip in and out of trouble.
Arduxim on the other hand lacks this simple mechanism, so during missions where you need to quickly move (such as an ambush), it just feels like you’re constantly in slow motion. There’s simply not enough sense of speed in the game to make the action feel as visceral as it needs to be.
Admittedly, this might very well be ‘realistic’ — there’s no friction in space to give a palatable sense of pull on you craft after all — but given how unrealistic flying a space fighter ship in space is anyway, I prefer to have some kind of feedback in how the ship feels as I fly it. Here, the ship slides a little too smoothly and without any personality in whatever direction you take it.
Worth noting is that other than the slightly increased graphical quality on the Oculus Rift, the Gear VR and Rift versions of the game are virtually identical with cross-platform multiplayer.
Starfighter Arduxim isn’t a bad game. It just lacks anything to make it a particularly good or noteworthy example of its genre. There are some key elements missing, especially in the ship mechanics, and it has an overall lack of distinction or personality. If you’ve already blown through the other space shooters in the Gear VR store, it’ll get the job done, but you’re unlikely to remember a great deal of it afterwards.
Read our Game Review Guidelines for more information on how we arrived at this score.