Virtual Reality Ninja Shenanigans – Sairento VR Review

Virtual reality shooters come in all shapes and sizes, from zombie wave shooters to gun ranges to multiplayer army simulators, but when comparing these to traditional shooters they seem to lack a certain craziness older non-VR games had. Don’t get me wrong, many of these virtual reality games boast an impressive array of good quality and polish, but in the end, they tend to play it safe to stay clear of virtual reality’s biggest enemy: motion sickness. Sairento VR breaks the mold in this regard so hold onto your seats, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Sairento VR is a first-person virtual reality shooter developed by Mixed Realms. It’s currently available for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. You don the mask of one of the silent ones, an enigmatic organization trained in the ancient arts of martial arts and fighting techniques of the ancient samurai and ninja. To put it into layman’s terms: You are a badass cyber ninja killing machine, and it’s a hoot!

The thing that makes this game such a blast to play is the unique locomotive system. The basic controls aren’t all that different from other VR shooters such as Robo Recall, you hold a button, point to a location and let go. Voila! You’ve teleported. This is a common locomotion system among VR games because it helps fend off the effects of motion sickness (or as I like to call it: the VR buzzkiller). Mixed Realms seems intent on wiping its bum with this notion, however, because if you angle your neat little teleport ray up you’ll soar through the sky in a massive leap, preferable whilst raining death upon your enemies. Using the motion system takes up a regenerating resource called ‘focus’, another use for focus is briefly slowing down time so you can feel like Neo in the Matrix. You have the option to turn on a full body model so you can see your legs and elbows move while doing all this. It feels just right.

Besides jumping through the air, you can also use this system to backflip off of walls or do wall runs. If you bend your knees before landing a jump you will slide across the floor, decapitating enemies as you go if you choose to hold your katana out to the side. It’s a breath of fresh air to be able to perform these feats of athleticism as other games seem so hellbent on tethering you to the ground. While this locomotion system is rather intense, the motion sickness it incurs really isn’t as bad as you would think. The developers laboriously tested and tweaked the systems to make sure the levels of intensity are always manageable. I personally don’t experience motion sickness all that often, and Sairento VR didn’t trigger it either. A remarkable feat seeing as I was soaring through the sky, jumping into an unsuspecting enemy with my katana in hand.

And that brings is to the weapons in this game. Although I dubbed this game a ‘first person shooter’, ‘action game’ might actually be a better term for it. The game boasts a selection of katanas, handguns, shotguns, assault rifles, throwing weapons and even a bow. All of these weapons are usable in the sky and during wall runs which makes for a pretty great experience. Unfortunately, most of these categories only contain about three weapons, I would really have liked to see more. Shotguns and assault rifles also aren’t that fun to use, so I pretty much stuck with the basic setup of dual-wielding pistols at my hip, a stronger pistol on my bum and dual wielding katanas behind my back, occasionally switching out a sword for a throwing star or bow.

Swordplay is also lackluster. The slightest movement of your wrist will whip your sword around doing major damage. Even just turning around will often make your katana clip through an enemy. It doesn’t feel like you deserve most of your sword kill, and it lacks the weight of combat that games such as Gorn have. A redeeming quality of the weapon selection is the option to infuse your weapons with various relics. During missions enemies can drop ammo, currency and relics. Relics basically serve as upgrades for your weapons increasing their fire rate, damage, headshot efficiency and many other things. Relics of a higher rarity can even give weapons special effects, I especially enjoyed the ability to make my throwing stars explode on impact. These RPG elements are a neat addition, although I would have liked to see them fleshed out a bit.

You start the game from a central control room where you can select random missions, the campaign or multiplayer. I haven’t been able to get into multiplayer so I can’t give an impression of this. I started out doing a few missions but quickly found that the map selection is rather limited. Missions got repetitive quickly so I tried my hand at the campaign. The campaign is basically a set of missions with tacked on dialogue. Seeing as the combat itself is just so darn good it’s disappointing to see that the campaign didn’t manage to hold my attention for long. Coupled with the limited map selection this put a serious damper on my experience.

Things go south even further if you consider the technical difficulties the game has. The graphics aren’t bad, but they are generally unimpressive, it’s also very easy to teleport yourself through a wall of floor, forcing yourself to reset your position to the beginning of the map. Sometimes my character would get her arm stuck behind her back, warping her arm length so one was shorter than the other. These are also a number of general bugs which I won’t go into. It’s such a shame, because the fun factor is so damn high! Despite all of these issues I still played this game for hours on end. It’s the kind of title where you make your own fun. Crank up the difficulty, pick up some creative weapons and you’ll be sure to have a great time! Just don’t expect the same amount of polish as something like Robo Recall.