This review was originally created in November 2018 for HTC, targeted to their Vive/Vive Pro (VIVEPORT). It is reproduced here without alteration.
Project 59 is yet another addition to the seemingly endless collection of virtual reality wave shooters. As is typical for the genre, the game surrounds you with fast-moving enemies that you need to fend off with a variety of weapons from a central location.
The backstory is a simple one. You joined a secret agency and are being ordered to carry out covert operations. Using advanced weapons and other equipment at your disposal, you’re supposed to eliminate all of the attacking mutant creatures as you fulfill your mission objectives. As you advance through these operations, you start to uncover a mystery that reveals that things are not quite as they seem.
It’s important to keep in mind that this is not considered what is eventually supposed to be the complete game. All that’s here is the initial training level and then a single mission. While more is promised, including your actions influencing more of the story direction, you’re looking at a total playtime for now of around 1 hour or less.
Designed as a seated or standing experience for the Vive or Vive Pro, Project 59 makes use of both Vive Controllers for the usual dual-wielding gunplay mayhem. You can collect ever more powerful weapons along the way and upgrade them from collectible tech pieces. You then have the option to replay a mission in the future and make use of the more powerful weapons.
Movement is handled via a “warping” mechanic, where you’re able to point and zip to your next destination. This movement system is actually Project 59‘s most innovative feature, as it’s a great way to move around a game like this. Between being able to move within your own room to engage enemies in a natural 1:1 manner, and then simply warping to your next destination, the chances of getting motion sickness from this game are seriously minimized.
This same warping mechanic is used to picked up items, except instead of warping you, the item gets zipped into your possession when you point at it. It’s both intuitive and satisfying.
Visually, the game’s graphics are average, tied to a thematic decision to set the game in solely dark environments. As such, a premium is placed on lighting effects, like a flashlight, fire, and other incidentals to help you see what’s going. Naturally, this lack of light also ups the scare factor quite a bit.
The sound design is similarly competent, with good weapon and monster effects. The disembodied-narrator-companion-with-an-attitude hook takes inspiration from the Serious Sam games, but it feels a bit more forced here and definitely less professional than the voice work in that classic series of first-person shooters. The narrator companion’s affected slow drawl/growl definitely starts to grate a bit with repeated plays.
Project 59 is a game with a lot of promise. Unfortunately, what’s actually available only hints at the game’s ultimate potential, rather than helping to realize it. The game’s movement and item acquisition system is clever and the gameplay can be fun, but without more content, there’s just not enough here to recommend against its competition. And while I appreciate the attempt at further differentiation from its peers with the inclusion of the snarky companion narrator, the put-downs and acting fell a bit flat, lessening its impact for me. Hopefully the developers can eventually see through what they started and offer a more compelling, and complete, overall experience.
Score: 3 out of 5 stars.
Project 59 is available on Viveport or with a Viveport Subscription.
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