This review was originally created in June 2018 for HTC, targeted to their Vive/Vive Pro (VIVEPORT). It is reproduced here without alteration.
Set to a backdrop of over-the-top sky pirate antics, Cargo Cult: Shoot’n’Loot joins a growing number of “bullet hell” and first person shooter hybrid games that seem particularly well suited to virtual reality. And similar to those other games in its chosen genre, it uses the familiar construct of firing a weapon with one hand and using a shield in the other, although you can eventually also dual-wield two weapons should you be so inclined.
Played standing in a room-scale environment, Cargo Cult: Shoot’n’Loot gets right down to business after loading, providing options to either play the game or upgrade your weapons or defenses. The latter option is only possible as you work your way through the game, shooting enemies and objects, and eventually earning enough money to spend on upgrades. These upgrades include enhancements like greater shot damage, a quicker cool-down time for an overheating gun, a laser sight for improved accuracy, and a rocket launcher for wide-scale damage. You can also purchase health and armor improvements if you need more defensive assistance.
Cargo Cult: Shoot’n’Loot‘s unusual theme is perhaps its strongest selling point. You fight from aboard your flying pirate ship through cloudy vistas and floating cliffs. There’s a strong steampunk vibe, with a healthy mix of Victorian style and fantastic technologies. Visually, the graphics are attractive, with a pleasing mix of semi-realistic and somewhat comic elements that help sell the overall theme. Audio-wise, the music and sound effects are sufficiently upbeat and loud, matching the frantic action.
There are three levels, each with a big boss battle at the end. If you beat the boss, you get a chance to spend your hard-earned booty on upgrades. Again, this is all fairly standard stuff for the genre, although this particular game’s length is on the shorter side. Since the entire game is carefully scripted with no variations after each playthrough, the whole experience becomes increasingly familiar. While after the first level the difficulty level quickly ramps up, once you start to get a feel for where the enemies are and what’s coming next – and of course make proper use of the upgrades – you’ll eventually be able to make it through the entire game in 20 minutes or less.
While the short game length might be a deal-breaker for a regular game, the fact that Cargo Cult: Shoot’n’Loot is a virtual reality title makes the eventual 20 minute max play time per complete session more acceptable. After all, not many people can stay comfortably immersed inside their headsets for much longer, particularly with a game as relatively active as this one is.
The game’s simple controls can also be seen as either a negative or positive, depending upon your preference. Outside of moving your hands to position your oversized gun or shield, you can either jump or fire. That’s it. That means this game is truly pick up and play, but there’s never any depth to its controls beyond that.
Although not the most innovative or deepest of experiences, Cargo Cult: Shoot’n’Loot is still worth a playthrough or two. The setting is interesting and it’s fun to acquire weapon upgrades that you can put to use against the game’s partially destructible environment and assortment of metal enemies. While there are definitely better games in this genre, you can do a lot worse than what’s on offer here.
Score: 3 out of 5 stars.
Cargo Cult: Shoot’n’Loot is available on Viveport or with a Viveport Subscription.
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