When I played the first chapter of Twilight Pioneers on Daydream late last year I was surprised by how not terrible it was. NetEase’s VR debut was a pretty competent first-person hack and slash game which made good use of the Wii-like motion controller. I just could have done with a little more of it.
Well, I got my wish this week as Chapter 2 hit, and Twilight Pioneers continues to impress me as an enjoyable sword combat game for a platform that’s almost completely devoid of them.
In the second installment you dive into a hellish dungeon to do battle with a massive demon god (I couldn’t tell for sure but I think I was fighting in a place called North Demondy, which I have all the time in the world for). You do battle with a huge Ox Tyrant, which looks a little like the elephant boss from the first chapter only, y’know, he’s now an Ox.
Before you get to a boss battle, though, this installment features a handful of minion battles. Giant rock monsters slowly advance towards you, threatening to squash you if you let them get too close. They’re pretty intimidating but easily bested; the game’s controls remain surprisingly intuitive, allowing you to alter between free locomotion and quick dashes by just tapping the remote’s touchpad, which works better than I’ve seen in even many Vive games.
The combat is set a fluid experience too; I really enjoyed switching between the four powers to balance bringing enemies down with no having any cool down time of my own. I just wish there were a little more challenge to it; I didn’t take a single chip to my health bar until I got to the chapter’s final boss, although he did admittedly pummel me the first time. This is one of the few Daydream games where I don’t find the controller a distraction, though, I feel more like it’s an extension of my body.
It’s worth mentioning that I ran through the first chapter again as a refresher before I tackled the second chapter, and by the time I reached the boss I’d managed to overheat my Pixel for the first time since getting Daydream all the way back in November. There’s not real way to pause the game to give it time to cool off, so I had to try and fight the boss with a terrible framerate the first time around. Plan your play sessions accordingly.
A lot of Daydream’s best content is getting sadly overlooked, and I don’t think Twilight Pioneers should suffer this fate. I’m more interested in seeing it rounded off as a full game than I am playing these small, 10 minute chapters every few months, but these first two installments suggest that the final product will be something well worth playing.