Evasion, a VR shooter developed by Archiact, sure checks a lot of boxes. It’s got cool guns, co-op multiplayer, and a full-length campaign – a combo not often seen in games of the genre. But even with all the things Evasion gets right, it is not enough to keep repetition from rearing its ugly head.
A mining colony has come under attack by the Optera, a race of robotic aliens, and it’s up to you to rescue the survivors and fend off the invaders. This plot is about as simple as it gets, but there are laughs to be had in the clever writing. A.D.E.L.E., your AI companion, serves as a welcome comic relief to ease the tension in the moments between combat – and you’ll appreciate her quips because the combat sections are intense.
Evasion embraces the concept of “bullet hell,” meaning you’ll need to stay on your toes to survive. The Optera comes in many shapes and sizes, and each enemy type has a different attack approach. It’s not uncommon to find your vision obscured by hails of incoming gunfire. You have a holographic shield in your secondary hand, but it is not enough – you also have to learn to use the tether. Once an enemy has taken enough damage, you can summon an energy tether to finish them off. Doing so grants either a health pack or power to charge up your weapon. The catch is that activating the tether disables your shield, so you must balance their usage. As a result, combat becomes much more nuanced than simply shooting and dodging.
Of the four classes to choose from, all have vastly different unique guns, special attacks, and tether abilities. In single player, class selection mostly boils down to which weapon you prefer. In co-op, however, your class determines the unique buff you can give to your teammate via the tether. For example, the Medic heals at will, while the Striker gives a damage boost. Sadly, there is no class progression or customization of any sort, which hurts replayability. Each class is also locked to one gun only, and while its behavior alters slightly as you charge it up through combat, it’s hard to feel content at the limited choice in weaponry.
Shoot, Kill, Rinse, Repeat
This feeling of discontent extends to the campaign. Clocking in at about four hours in length, this is one case where more is not necessarily better. Before long, mission objectives start to repeat – either kill a certain amount of Optera, destroy an object, or transport an object. Since enemies lack weak points of any kind, the shooting can at times feel mindless, as you simply fire until their health bars deplete. This issue is more pronounced with the bosses, who soak up so much damage that their fights lean towards being tiresome rather than fun. A horde mode is also available, but there’s little motivation to play it when you do so much of the same in the campaign. All this is made worse by a looping metal soundtrack, which grew stale by the time I reached the end of the first level.
The good news is that both the campaign and horde mode can be played entirely in two-player co-op. Aside from being able to buff one another, having a second player helps greatly in dividing the attention of the many enemies you’ll face. As Evasion is developed as a multiplayer experience, the single-player suffers as a consequence. Enemy health and spawns do not adjust to the number of players present, and there are major difficulty spikes in two specific sections – one of which forces you to take unavoidable damage. Considering that you’ll have to restart a level from the beginning after three deaths, a full solo play-through near borders on being impossible.
A Fun But Fleeting Diversion
In terms of comfort, Evasion boasts a high level of polish. Switching between the shield and tether is effortless, as is using your gun’s primary and secondary fire. There are three locomotion options to choose from, ensuring something for everyone. I noticed that while moving with the free movement scheme, the edges of your vision are blackened so only the center is in clear view, which should eliminate discomfort for most players.
Though it’s no game-changer, Evasion’s unique bullet-hell-in-VR gameplay should please those seeking a tough challenge. There’s not enough content or replayability here to encourage you to return for more after the initial play-through, assuming you can even make it through the campaign in the first place. But if you have a friend to play with, then Evasion will provide a fun distraction while you continue waiting for the next VR hit.
** An Oculus Rift game code was provided by the publisher **
- Bullet hell gunplay
- Shield & tether offers risk and reward
- Can be played in co-op from start to finish
- Many locomotion schemes
- Single player is far too punishing
- No player progression or customization
- Campaign grows stale