Review: Archangel (PSVR)

Yes, it’s another PSVR game. Last one for a while, I swear. Anyway, Archangel would probably be best described as a rail shooter where you pilot a giant mech. The gameplay seems pretty simple at first, with all movement occurring automatically, leaving you free to focus entirely on the shooting and punching. The controls are simple enough, you just point with a Move controller in hand to aim and pull the trigger to shoot (you can play with a controller as well, but you’ll lose the ability to aim independently with each hand).

There are a few things that set this apart from every other rail shooter though. For one, you can hold a button to clench your giant metal fists and then use them to punch any unfortunate enemies that wander too close to you. You’re also equipped with energy shields on each arm that can be used to block most incoming fire, but you have to move your arm/arms into a shield position, and you can only use them for a limited amount of time before they need to take a breather to recharge.

Eventually, you’ll also gain three more weapons, giving you a total of two to choose from on each arm. As nice as this sounds, this is when things start to get tricky. You’ll soon find that you have to maintain a mechanical juggling act to survive, as you’ll be forced to switch weapons on a regular basis in order to use the most effective type on its corresponding enemy type. You also can’t fire from an arm and use its shield at the same time, though you can fire through your own shield with your free arm. Point being, this leads to some intense firefights where you have to act quickly to perform the right action before you take too much damage. It can get a bit tough at times, but you can also buy some shield and armor upgrades later that help a lot, so it’s not so bad.

So the gameplay is pretty solid, but what about the rest? Well, graphically it’s one of the better looking games for PSVR so far. Your mech cockpit looks great and conveys an impressive sense of scale, making you feel appropriately large as you stomp your way through a bunch of post-apocalyptic future environments that are relatively high-detail for a VR game. The various mechanical enemies also look suitably futuristic and deadly, and the effects flying around the screen as you shoot the hell out of each other are quite nice.

I think that the most surprising thing about Archangel though, was the fact that it had a pretty well-produced story. It’s well written, packed full of dramatic moments, and has a surprisingly good voice cast. It’s only limited by how short the game is, which doesn’t allow for as much expansion on this well-crafted world as I’d have liked.

That was actually the only real downside, the length. Like most VR games, it’s pretty short, clocking in at around four to five hours. Combine that with the fact that this is priced higher than most other VR games of its kind (around $40 normally), and it may be hard for some to justify the expense. Only you can decide if you think this kind of experience is worth that much to you, but I can at least assure you that it really is a VR experience of the highest caliber, so at least keep an eye out for it to go on sale again if you must, because it really is as fun and cool as it looks.   

Archangel is available now digitally for PS4 and Windows.

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