There’s nothing quite like Sairento for the PSVR. It’s a free-flowing, first-person action game that has the player using a variety of swords and guns to take down their enemies. More often than not, you’ll feel as if you’re in the Matrix as you slow down time, run along walls, and rain hell-fire upon wave after wave of bad guys. The game isn’t perfect, and you’ll need to get through a steep learning curve with the movement and controls, but Mixed Realms and Swag Soft have successfully scratched the itch of VR action game fans.
Starting with the campaign, we’re brought into the world of Chieko Hatsuri. She’s an agent with the Sairento Organization, a group dedicated to the safety and security of Japan. With the help of her handler, Broke, Chieko navigates though the campaign, trying to figure out what’s happening within the group. One of my major complaints with the game is the story, though. Thanks to some atrocious voice acting, I found it challenging to invest in what was happening. You won’t find any cutscenes here – only dialogue – meaning you’re forced to listen to poorly acted line after poorly acted line to take away any of the plot. Once the missions begin though, the gameplay delivers and more than makes up for what the writing lacks.
Without a doubt, Sairento has got a severe learning curve. This isn’t the game’s fault, so much as it is the inherently difficult PS Move Controllers. Lacking joysticks forces developers to get creative with their control schemes, and Sairento is no different, but powering through and mastering it is extremely rewarding. Instead of teleporting as you see in most VR games, here you’ll be aiming your marker to where you want to move, and leaping to that position. Early on, you’ll unlock the essential ability to triple jump, which makes navigation a breeze. Hopping around the levels is a blast, and once you start incorporating mid-air turns, bullet time, and wall-runs the experience becomes like nothing I’ve played on PSVR. As mentioned earlier, if you’ve ever wanted to feel like Neo from the Matrix, this is about as close it gets right now.
You have four weapon slots on Chieko. Two holsters on the hips are for smaller guns, and both shoulders can carry either a big gun, like a rifle, or a blade. I found there to be a massive difference in the quality of gunplay vs. swordplay. The guns feel downright fantastic. Reaching your hand to your hip, and pulling out a handgun, is as satisfying as arming yourself can get. Walking from room to room, with my pistols drawn, clearing enemies along the way, made me feel more like an action star than any game I’ve ever played. The same goes for any gun. Shotguns, rifles, and machine guns, all feel fantastic and work just as one would expect them too. The swordplay, however, I found not to be nearly as enjoyable. There isn’t any weight behind the swings of a sword, so attacks feel as if they just slide off enemies. I’d also find that more often than not, while I was moving towards an enemy they would move into my landing zone and I’d essentially stop inside of my opponent. You can’t attack what you can’t see, and I found myself constantly having to readjust myself to make a proper blade attack. Swords can be used to deflect bullets, however, making for an effective way to close gaps on enemies.
To enhance your weapons, you’ll pick up ‘relics’ along the way. Relics are modifiers that have varying rarity and effect. Common relics, for example, may give you an increased deflect area, while a legendary relic may give you an 86% damage increase. Collecting new relics and building new combinations of weapons is a big part of the draw, and it’s easy to fall into that “one more run” mentality looking for more legendaries. Luckily once the campaign is over with, Sairento gives you what seems like a limitless supply of missions and challenges to choose. These are broken down into things like ‘Wave Assault’ and ‘Survival.’ The missions here are the heart of the game, consistently rewarding the player with relics and XP to use on your skill tree. On top of this, daily rewards and other benefits are given to the player to incentivize them to come back often. The game does a fantastic job of making you feel like you’re always making progress. You can see your character getting stronger and faster with every session, and it’s a lot of fun to come back to.
On the technical side of things, Sairento does falter at times. The environments themselves look good from afar, but once you get up close to things, you realize many of the assets seem to be pulled directly from a Playstation 1 era game. This doesn’t distract during combat, but it does hurt the overall exploration of the game. Not only this, but these levels feel almost as if a child glued them together. I would often go through walls or the floor, causing me to float in space until I restarted the level. It was incredibly frustrating playing through a level, only to have to restart because I went through a wall trying to dodge an attack.
Sairento is a game that most PSVR owners should check out. It feels like the exact kind of title we’ve been waiting for. No other game on the system feels quite like this. Bullet time, sliding, triple jumping, and the gunplay all combine to give the player a rush like nothing else. The swordplay left much to be desired, but everything else more than made up for it. If you can battle through the first few awkward hours with the controls, and deal with the flimsiness of the world, you’ll have a great time.
***PS4 Code provided by the publisher***
- Fantastic Gunplay
- Intense Action
- Exhilarating Movement
- Rewarding Learning Curve
- Meaningless Storyline
- Environments can look rough
- Easy to get stuck in walls
- Swordplay is lacking