Robo Recall has been on the market for a little over a month now, and since I finally have the room to truly make use of room scale features for VR, it seemed as good a time as any to dive in. Robo Recall is Epic Games first ‘serious’ foray into VR gaming, I say serious, because a stunning little tech demo by the name of Bullet Train has been around for a while, offering a small glimpse of what Epic were promising with the Robo Recall title and boy have they delivered.
Simple and fun!
Robo Recall has been given away for free to Oculus Touch owners, so as of the time of writing anyone who buys a touch, will also get a copy of this cracking little gem of a game. The idea behind it is simple, you play from your own point of view, have access to hip and shoulder mounted weapons and basically point and shoot til you run out of ammo, at which point, you just draw another fire arm. This leads it to have a lot in common with other titles, such as Serious Sam or even SUPERHOT, of course there is often more to a game than just the basic concept, otherwise we wouldn’t have a myriad of titles for each genre on the market and of course Robo Recall is no slouch in this area, bringing a few neat ideas and polish to the genre that add more than just a different set of skins.
The concept behind the games story is simple, you are a recall agent working on behalf of a robotics firm to ‘recall’ hordes of defective robots on the loose in the city. Of course, there is a certain element of tongue in cheek humour about the use of recall in the job title, since last I checked shooting house hold electronics, even something as extravagant as a robot, would likely void any warranty that may apply and render them problematic for your local repairs department. The gun play is sharp and snappy with some very nice feeling weaponry, ranging from a pistol, through to revolvers, shotguns, and laser rifles, all with their own characteristic use cases, behaviours, and recoils. Each weapon is also upgradable over time, adding in things like laser sites, increased ammo capacity and more. Replenishing Ammo is handled via the magic of teleporting gun holsters, when you’re out of bullets, simply drop the gun and grab another from its holster, each weapon has a short cooldown before a new one is available, so you may need to wait a second or two before you can grab another – something which I sometimes forgot in a playthrough, leading me to bring up an empty hand in a moment of embarrassment, this cooldown down decrease over time as your progress through the game. You can carry four weapons at a time, allowing you to have every weapon type to hand, thanks to shoulder mounted shotgun/rifle holsters – something that made me feel very much like I was in a John Woo movie the first time I drew a shotgun like this. Of course, if gunplay isn’t your style you can also jump in and fight, with the enemy robots being grab-able via convenient handles or their limbs, letting you rip them apart, smash them together or just simply throw them off the edges of buildings as you make your way around the cityscape.
The game dynamically dilates time as you play, allowing for some very cool movie like moments to occur, from teleporting from one enemy to the next and ripping off heads as you go, through to grabbing bullets and missiles out of the air and launching them back at your enemies, or my personal favourite juggling a robot using nothing but bullets. Overall Epic have done an amazing job in giving you a bevy of options in terms of approach, as well as giving you that much needed sense of power and feeling of badassery while playing.
As with many current VR titles, movement is still a bit of an odd fish, relying on a hybrid of teleportation and movement within your play space. I found that for the most part, other than ducking and weaving to avoid projectiles or punches from the Robots I’d been tasked with recalling, I stayed relatively static in my play space and instead relied on teleportation to move me around, even over short distances that I had room for within my play area. Indeed, the game does much to promote the player to move as much as possible, either via teleporting or within their play area, using a myriad of tools, such as pickups which enhance your overall score, your AI assistant telling you to move, or enemies that demand a certain amount of teleporting around to overcome. Of course, as clunky as the teleportation mechanic often can be, Epic have done what they can to make it as intuitive and understandable to use as possible, simply point the stick on the touch in the direction you want to face and aim it at a location. Despite how little I felt I was moving over time, it does seem that I was moving a lot more than I thought based on just how much of a sweat I’d work up each time I played for an hour or so.
A well crafted experience
Robo Recall features global scoreboards, which adds a nice competitive element to the gameplay, there is a lot you can do to rise up the charts, from collecting the points modifiers that are dropped by trashed robots, through to varying your recall techniques and ultimately keeping moving to keep that score getting ever higher, since while you can easily complete each mission while remaining mostly still, other than teleporting to a new location as instructed, it does little for your modifier and certain is less fun than getting elbow deep in robot guts.
Graphically, as you would expect from an Epic Games title, everything is slick, with pin sharp looking visuals, great music, and a nice tongue in cheek humour to it, with the robots oft asking why they were built with handles when grabbed, or singing ‘Daisy, Daisy…’ as their systems slowly shut down, a nice reference to a certain rogue AI on a certain spaceship. Robo Recall actually puts me in mind of the arcade light shooters of old, with nice flashy text periodically shown in the game celebrating your achievements, nice, pounding rock music driving your gameplay and a very nice over the top approach to pretty much everything it does. On the subject of the visuals in game, due to the fact you do tend to move about a lot, with some levels being set on the rooftops of the city, I did find myself suffering from occasions of vertigo as I was on the edge of buildings and could see down to the street level below.
Currently only having two Oculus Sensors does show a weakness to the Rifts default setup, since while the game does tend to keep the action focused to your front, and indeed has a very slight marker on the floor at all times to help you pin point not only your play spaces centre, but also the front of it, your constant teleporting can mean enemies and up behind you or in positions that do cause some minor tracking issues while using just the two sensors and indeed you do get a warning message telling you to turn to face the front in situations like this. A third sensor will no doubt rectify this and indeed is something I will be looking to add to my setup in the coming months – expect an update with my findings when I do.
The above, which is no fault of the game, or Epics and the fact that it’s basic ‘story’ felt a little short, with the story being complete after a mere 9 missions, which is down to Epic, are probably the only real complaints I can level at Robo Recall. Of course, considering the price tag the length of the game is only a minor concern, since this is still a lot of game and a hell of a lot of fun for the princely cost of £0. Indeed, while the game is relatively short there is plenty of reason to keep going back and play through it repeatedly, since there are plenty of options for gun unlocks and mission goals to complete.
- A well crafted, well planned release that makes the player feel like they are in their own action movie
- Nice use of humour throughout
- A nice modern take on the light gun shooters of old arcades
- Bit short
- An obvious use for VR