This review was originally created in October 2018 for HTC, targeted to their Vive/Vive Pro (VIVEPORT). It is reproduced here without alteration.
Arcade-style rail shooters, where your movement is limited as your avatar is automatically guided along a specific route, were typically played with plastic light gun peripherals. Although their popularity has waned over the years, these types of games have found new homes within virtual reality, replacing light guns and monitors or TVs with a first-person experience far more immersive than anything in the past. Naked Sun is one such virtual reality arcade-style rail shooter that is also heavily influenced by games in the overcrowded wave shooter genre, where masses of enemies must be fought off with the help of various weapons, defensive capabilities, and power-ups.
Naked Sun‘s sci-fi backstory is pretty generic. At the start of the 23rd century, artificial intelligence has taken over the Earth, with malevolent androids bent on eliminating all humans. As codename Blackbird, the first successful hybrid of human and machine, it’s up to you make one last stand and fight back.
Designed for Vive, Vive Pro, or Oculus Rift owners, and playable seated or standing, Naked Sun offers just 180 degrees of vision within each scene. While this is definitely limited in comparison to other games that offer far more freedom to look around, it does mean this game is optimized for play in just about any size room. The developers are also quick to point out that the on-rails movement and 180-degree field of vision virtually eliminates motion sickness in even the most sensitive of stomachs, so that’s certainly a positive in its favor, particularly for those new to virtual reality.
Naked Sun follows the typical setup of other first-person virtual reality shooters. You can either dual-wield weapons or have a shield or protective barrier in one hand, while shooting with a weapon in the other. Using the Vive controllers you can easily switch between single and automatic firing, with reloading your unlimited supply of ammunition as simple as moving your hands quickly down and up again.
There’s a story mode, with three levels, lasting about 40 minutes or so of total play time, as well as an arcade mode where you shoot for a high score. Regardless of mode, there are plenty of enemies to take out and some destructible environments that can be used to your advantage. While the developers have promised more content, what’s already there is at least on par with many other virtual reality experiences of this type.
Much like the story and setting, the audio-visuals have a similarly generic sci-fi feel to them. On the plus side, the visuals are sharp and clear, making it easy to make out your targets and avoid or deflect incoming fire.
While Naked Sun does little to distinguish itself in a crowded genre, what’s there is fun and competently implemented. While not the most challenging of games, that also means it’s more approachable, with more of the game available to progress through for players of even modest skills. Combined with the motion sickness-friendly design, this is a great experience for those still new to what virtual reality has to offer. It’s just a shame the developers didn’t try for a more inspired story or setting.
Score: 3 out of 5 stars.
Naked Sun is available on Viveport or with a Viveport Subscription.