Archangel PlayStation VR Review

Publisher: Skydance Interactive  Developer: Skydance Interactive  Genre: Action

Players: 1  Age Rating: 12+   Other console/handheld formats: N/A

Archangel is one of those VR experiences that wows you from the off. Controlling a six storey high mech, the machine’s giant arms appear in front of you. What’s more, you can actually control each of these arms independently with a Move controller in each hand, which makes you feel like you are inside of a war machine that is the very definition of absolute destruction.

There’s a decent variety of enemies, some of which you’ll need to alter your tactics in order to beat.

Archangel also tells a decent enough story about war and tragedy, and involves the mech being introduced to the battlefield in order to even the odds for the United State Free Forces, who have been on the losing side for almost a decade. They are fighting a war against HUMNX, a private and tyrannical corporation. You can either take control of a male or female character, which doesn’t determine anything other than the lines being delivered by a man’s or woman’s voice. At the time of writing, I experienced a rather amusing glitch, which had my woman character sounding like the man character from time to time, and also rather jarring is that many of the characters addressed my character as sir, even though I was supposed to be a woman. One more thing; the lip synching is terrible, and I honestly don’t believe a grain of effort has been put into making sure that each characters lips move with their dialogue. Other than the issues I mentioned, the story is enjoyable enough and the voice acting is of a high standard. I also like that you can converse with the mech’s onboard AI, other team members, as well as your superior between missions, which adds some depth to the small cast of characters.

There’s a small build-up to actually setting foot inside the mech, which involves a train ride with your young son, but once you do reach it, the towering machine is quite a sight, and you realise just how big it is when you have to enter a lift in order to be carried up to the cockpit. There’s a real sense of scale during this scene, and it’s a memorable way for you to be introduced to the machine before the action starts. Once you are actually in the hot seat, you don’t have to wait long at all to be thrust onto the battlefield. Your base is attacked, and there’s death and destruction around you, forcing you to escape.

Archangel is an on-rails shooter, whereby leg movement is automatic, although you have full control over arm movements, weapons, as well as head movement. As I suggested in the opening paragraph of this review, if you have a pair of Move controllers at your disposal, this is definitely the way to play the game, and, even though there’s DualShock support, it’s the way that the game was obviously meant to be played.

With individual weapons soon unlocked on each hand, controlling the movement of each metallic limb allows you to aim as to where you want to fire those tools of destruction. You can also clench each individual fist, and lash out at anything close by, destroying enemies as well as obstacles in your way. It’s also possible to activate two shields individually, which can be moved around to protect you from the majority of gunfire, which is yet another satisfying reason to take a seat in this metallic war machine. Being inside a massive mech is a beautiful power fantasy for many, and Archangel definitely allows you to virtually live out this fantasy.

As you progress through the game, more weapons will become available to each arm, with you then being able to switch between them following a button press. Also, you are able to upgrade your weapons and shields between levels, and as things becoming increasingly tougher as you get deeper into the game, these upgrades prove to be handy, and are always most welcome.

At times, the checkpoints in the game could be a little fairer though, with dying sometimes resulting in losing more progress than I would have liked, and frustration does start to set in when repeatedly failing some of the tougher sections. Still, the game has four difficulty levels, which even includes a permadeath option for the brave amongst you. I must admit that I had to restart the game on easy, as I found a particular section overly tricky. An option to lower or raise the difficulty level during the game would have been welcome as opposed to having to begin again from scratch.

Environments are varied enough, and feel rather large in the headset.

It’s also a shame that the game can be completed in three to five hours or so, as it’s yet another PlayStation VR game that just left me wanting more. There’s still enough highly polished action there to satisfy, and at least it isn’t yet another one of those VR experiences that can be completed in an hour or just over, but at £33 it is overpriced for what it is. There’s no getting away from that.

Archangel is one of the most visually striking PlayStation VR games yet. If those massive arms weren’t already impressive enough, there’s also attractive explosions and particle effects to be seen, and there’s definitely a feeling that this is a PlayStation VR game with higher production values than many of the other games you can play with the headset. You do still get some rather blurry environmental textures though, which is to be expected based on the hardware limitations.

While it lasts, Archangel is a game that is memorable for all the right reasons, and controlling the gigantic arms independently just never gets old in what is a very sturdy on-rails shooter. The price is an issue, but this is still one of the PlayStation VR’s most enjoyable and satisfying games, and the developer should be commended for the amount of effort that has been put into it.