Vertigo became a VR game equivalent of cult-classic within the community, so like many I was excited at the announcement of Vertigo 2. The wait is finally over for Zach Tsiakalis-Brown’s next installment in his series but, was all the excitement worth it?
Vertigo 2 carries on from where Vertigo left off, as you wake up deep underground in the reaches of the Quantum Reactor VII. The question is can you successfully make your way home this time?
I think how the game is described by Zach suits it the most, which is a Half-Like game – as he has taken inspiration for the best aspects of Valve’s classics, and could there a better game to take it from? I dont think there is.
The main element of the gameplay is definitely the arcade style shooting, which comes with an arsenal of fourteen weapons – all of these come with their own reload mechanics and upgrades to make them better. Personally, I found most of the time I was using the pistol once I had fully upgraded – as the ammo synthesizes a lot quicker than the other guns.
This is one element of Vertigo 2 that is slightly different to other shooters, you will not be looking for ammo crates or even dropped ammo for your guns – once you have the gun it will automatically synthesize ammo, shown by loading circles on your belt while holding the gun. Also, in the game you will regenerate so much health after taking damage, but around the levels there will be med-bays on the walls and syringes and health fruit you can store in the games inventory on your wrist.
As well as the guns having their own reload mechanics, they all also include their own physics, with Vertigo 2 bringing back the physics based element to the game from the first. For me having this sort of system implemented really does help with the immersion – although, sometimes it does lead to funny moments as you interact with or get something stuck in part of the environment, causing the Stretch Armstrong effect on your arms.
Next you will get some slight puzzles in the game, but these are never that taxing and in most cases will be easily solved in your current vicinity. They will also be some fetch sort tasks, that will see you going between areas looking for set items and taking on a large number of enemies while doing this. The enemies have decent variety of creatures, aliens and robots with each brining there own abilities and difficulties to deal with.
Outside of the normal enemies, you are going to also encounter old school boss fights again – like you did in the original. But, in Vertigo 2 these battles are more intense and ambitious in design and will see you taking on ten brand new boss enounters.
All of this also happens within a massive bespoke world, which will see you visiting an increidble range of different environments, helping Vertigo 2 feel like a true sequal as everything seems much more grand in design and feels like more of an adventure than the original game.
One thing that is clearly present throughout the gameplay is Zach’s love for Virtual Reality and developing for the medium. This is made clear by the little touches added throughout the game and gameplay – for example actually having to use a mouse in the game to select items on a computer.
If you played Vertigo Remastered you will know what to expect when it comes to the visuals in the game. You will be getting a cartoon style look, but with all the craziness you are placed into like the first game this visual presentation really suits the game. Everything looks really sharp inside of the HMD, and even though it carries a cartoon style you will be fully immersed in the world of Vertigo 2.
The audio is a massive high-point of the game, as this carried over everything that made it special in the first installment. The voice acting is outstanding, keeps your attention and throws in fantastic humor along the way. Adding to this a solid soundtrack that kicks in at just the right time and instills the feeling of action, unease and suspense when required.
When it comes to comfort the game can be played seated or standing. However, Zach has designed the game to be all out when it comes to VR gameplay, meaning you will have all sorts of movement from jumping to driving vechicles – all that will be loved by VR veterans.
But, please don’t let this put you off buying the game, as he has catered for everyone and added all the comfort options for those who would suffer for the all out approach. This allows for FOV reduction (vignette), teleport movement, snap turning, removing the natural bobbing of the vehicles and screen-shake.
Control-wise you will get what you expect in a VR first-person shooter from how it is handled moving around, with the teleport being activated by pressing in the right-stick (when in free locomotion mode) or the touch-pad on the Index Controllers. You have an inventory system on your wrist for carrying items, health and grenades, with the weapons being selected from a weapon wheel – meaning you are not over encumbered by a difficult inventory system.
The game took me around eight and half hours to complete, and this seemed a perfect length for the story. Upon completion you can revisit any chapter, replay any boss fight and it it unlocks Game+ for those who want to go back into it. Personally I do feel this will be an option I will take up at some point in the future.
REVIEWED USING VIVE PRO EYE & INDEX CONTROLLERS
For the purposes of transparency, this review was created using a review code provided by the company or their respective PR company. The use of a press code does not affect my judgement of the product.
Vertigo 2 feels like a true sequel in every aspect with it doing everything the original did well, but on a much larger scale. The game has kept its arcade feeling combat, great look, voice acting and humor – but everything seems ramped up making this more intense and like a bigger adventure thanks to the worlds design and ambitious boss battles. All of this coming from a one-man development team in Zach Tsiakalis-Brown, and this is a point that really blows my mind. As it’s all put together and works so well, to the point it seems like it has been made by a large team at a AAA company. If you own PCVR for me Vertigo 2 is just as an essential purchase as Half-Life: Alyx.
Release Date: March 30th 2023
Developer: Zach Tsiakalis-Brown
Publisher: Zulubo Productions
Price: US $29.99