When it comes to virtual reality titles an easy way to get me interested in your game is to offer me something that allows me to fight with swords. I don’t know what it is but games like Vader Immortal, Beat Saber, and more that make you feel like you are actually swinging a blade around are just so satisfying. When developer Sinn Studio announced their latest VR title, Swordsman VR, I knew I wanted to check it out based on the name alone.
The first thing that should be mentioned in this review is that you will need two PlayStation Move controllers in order to play this game. Swordsman VR is a single-player, physics based medieval combat game where you enter arenas and duel against Vikings, Knights, Samurai, and more. Your modes on offer here include a story mode and an arena mode. I went with the story mode first but I wouldn’t say there is a heavy emphasis on the story part. It basically involves the Jotunn who has come to earth to enslave the planet and you have to stop it and their warriors. The focus here is clearly on the sword fighting gameplay and you have a couple control options when it comes to that although neither one is great. One lets you use the buttons to move forward and backwards along with turning. This scheme works but doesn’t feel natural moving this way. The other option lets you move using one of your hands but doing that prevents you from using gear in that hand while moving. I’ve said this in other reviews I’ve done on PlayStation VR and I’ll say it again here: the PlayStation Move controllers really hold developers back from including immersive movement options. The lack of a stick on these is why we get stuck with movement options like this and the sooner Sony releases new controllers the better off developers and gamers will be.
The story mode features several worlds each divided up into multiple battles against normal enemies and a boss fight. Every time you play a level the enemies you fight are random so you’ll never know quite what to expect. Sometimes you’ll be in a duel against one opponent and others you’ll have to fight several enemies at once. Every enemy type has their own attack patterns to set them apart from the next so you’ll have to learn them so that you can best attack and defend against them. Landing my sword strikes and blocking theirs with my shield felt great and impactful. Landing head shots seems to be the best way to take enemies down and the game can be a bit easy at times due to that as it’s exploitable. There were also times where I noticed the enemies were kind of glitching and moving in some awkward ways.
The game did a good job of keeping me wanting to play more by rewarding me with gold and skill points after every fight I completed. I was then able to use these to purchase new weapons and armor and to upgrade my stats like my health and attack strength. When you finish the story mode you can jump into the arena mode which lets you adjust all kind of parameters. You can set how many waves of enemies you want to fight, how hard they’ll be, where to fight at and so on. You can also make it so that only attacks to certain parts of enemy bodies will damage them or you can make the enemies invisible. You can earn the gold and skill points in this mode too so regardless of which mode you feel like playing you are rewarded for doing so.
The graphics in Swordsman VR are solid but also show that this is from a very small team. The environments are pretty small and don’t have a lot going on in them but the main hub area is pretty impressive visually. The character models also have some nice detail to them and feature solid animation work. On the audio side I didn’t find the music to be much to speak about but the game does have some nice sound effects when you land attacks with your weapons. Those interested in earning trophies in the game will find 20 of them here including a Platinum trophy. It’s a very easy list where you’ll get most of them while simply playing through the game.
Sinn Studio has been releasing games on PlayStation VR for awhile now but I didn’t find their prior work to be very good. Swordsman VR shows that they are continuing to listen and working to improve with this easily being their best game yet. It’s got quite a lot of content here to play through and the actual sword fighting feels really good. More can be done to improve the look and sound of it and to iron out some of the physics. I’m looking forward to seeing what Sinn Studio does next in the virtual reality space.
*Swordsman VR is available now on PlayStation VR and PC. Reviewed on a PlayStation VR with a PlayStation 4 Pro. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review. ThisGenGaming is an official partner of vrgamecritic.com where you can find all of our PlayStation VR reviews.