Back when 3D polygons were set to replace sprites and become the norm for arcades and home consoles, action shooters exploded onto the scene with bulky plastic guns that you would point to the screen and with a satisfying click of the trigger, blast some virtual bad guy right between the eyes. With arcades on the decline and newer tv’s not being light gun compatible, the ‘gun’ genre had all but died out, until the release of VR and while it’s too soon to say “It’s Back!” or anything to that extreme, I will say this, I really missed those games.
Despite VR being an excellent format to bring these shooters back into the spotlight, there are just not that many available on the platform, but that is also true of the headset having very little games released for it regardless. I’ve played a few shooters like GunJack, Brookhaven, and Rush of Blood, and while they vary from space shooters to horror experiences, none of them capture the essence of what made games like Time Crisis or House of the Dead such memorable games. While checking the VR tab on the PlayStation store, I came across Mortal Blitz, a game that looked fairly interesting and after checking out the trailer, I figured I may as well give it a try. I’m glad I did.
Mortal Blitz aside from its awful name is so light on any story that it’s painful. As for what it’s about? I’m not sure, there isn’t much of a story here whatsoever. You play as someone called Yuhei, who takes orders from some generic anime soldier girl who has a companion named Max and you are out to stop something called Dominion or something about the Teratoma Destruction plan or whatever it is, It’s never really explained and what little bit of dialogue there is here is limited to a few lines like “It’s time for us to settle the score!” and a few others that are cringe worthy.
Apart from a paper thin story and lacking characters, the controls of Mortal Blitz help this game feel and play extremely fun. You can use a dual shock controller if you want, but the best way to play is with a Move controller in each hand. This allows you to split up your guns and shoot in different directions and there are times where I could just not imagine playing any other way. The game requires very little use of the entire Move controller and doesn’t require you to put your thumb and index figures through a gauntlet of button aerobics.
Mortal Blitz has you remain stationary during combat, ducking behind cover and this lack of movement also ensures you won’t get motion sickness during your play session. When you’ve cleared a room and look to proceed, you will teleport to preset locations marked with a blue icon.
As you shoot down and stagger enemies around you, they will glow a red color and enter what the game calls a “Groggy” state. These enemies can be pulled towards you with a laser leash that is accessible when a hand is free of a weapon. You can then fill the enemy full of bullets as time is slowed down and earn bonus points upon execution. Swapping from armed to unarmed is rather simple and with a bit of practice, I was pulling of Groggy combo’s back to back. Occasionally, the camera would lose sight of me to where my hands would bounce around and shoot in some random directions, but nearly 95% of the time the game operated exactly how it should with near perfect accuracy. Aiming around cover is another feather in this game’s cap as it can be extremely rewarding to plant a few shots while behind cover, curving the gun around said cover and actually landing a few well placed, if a bit lucky, shots.
You can play standing up or sitting down and frankly, both setups work well. You do need to be able to duck behind cover so I suggest clearing some space. I found that standing up gave me more freedom in my shots, but made me a bigger target since your character for some reason towers over everything, your companions included, which isn’t that much of a problem considering you only see them at the start or end of certain missions.
The character designs for both sides of the good and evil here are fairly ok to somewhat generic. You can tell that the only solid character to get any attention is the generic soldier girl, as she has a really nice design but clashes with nearly everything else in the game because of the quality disparity. You’ll tackle various gun-toting foes and eventually the game swaps to creatures, both on foot and others that fly around you.
Visually, the game is a bit hit and miss, locations are effective, and can look fairly good, but lack enough variety to help us tell them apart. I found characters models to be a bit on the blurry side and lack a few crisp details. The creatures you come across in the last few missions can be pretty interesting but feel like combinations of Lickers from Resident Evil and the Necromorph’s from Dead Space.
Sadly, there are only five missions that last around 10-15 minutes each, and the game runs around $20. The developer has said they will be adding more content eventually, which I am assuming is part of the initial purchase, at least I hope so. Given this is an altered version of a GearVR game it was expected to be a somewhat shallow experience anyway.
Mortal Blitz feels dated, and that’s for better and for worse. I love the way the game draws on the nostalgia of light gun games like Time Crisis and House of the Dead and it does a rather good job of making it feel like this is the natural extension of what light gun games would feel like using VR. If developer Skonec can keep this up and deliver a visually superior product with their next game, or even a visual patch for the upcoming extra content, then they will be a VR developer to watch out for.