UNDERDOGS is the latest title to enter the roguelike arena, which seems to be becoming the Wave Shooter of modern Virtual Reality. The trailer certainly gave the feeling that One Hamsa were going to bring something new to the genre, but does it do enough to standout?
Release Date: January 25th 2024
Developer: One Hamsa
Publisher: One Hamsa
Price: US $29.99
Reviewed On: DPVR E4
* Code Provided For Review *
FIGHT YOUR WAY INTO THE CITY
In a dystopian future and omnipresent AI overlord is taking over, two brothers know their only one option is to flee and the best destination is the last human city left; New Brakka. However, there is one way to get into the city and this is through the underground mech fighting ring.
KING KONG OF THE ARENA
UNDERDOGS is a roguelike arena fighter, meaning it follows the basic structure this genre offers, fight through a number of smaller arenas and then take on a Boss. All while managing and upgrading your mech ready for the next arena and challenge.
In order to manage and upgrade your mech, between each fight you will be presented with a number of options, as time progresses to the night when all battles take place. Your day is represented with a number of random activities, with it providing two options over a number of sequences. These include the options of repairing or buying new parts for your mech, to make sure you are ready for action when the night time hits.
With a plethora of items available from perks, upgrades, weapons and add-ons, it brings with it some tactical elements – with some unlocks having a chance of giving negative affects. When it comes upgrades each arm and your cockpit are separate elements, so you have plenty of ways to tune your mech to how you want it, using what is best for you from the unlocks you receive on your latest run.
You will fight your way through two arenas in total, each with its own challenges and hordes of enemies. Once you make it through the second arena the game does change the format, but manages to keep the same gameplay loop you have become accustomed to.
The team have also included a Skirmish mode, which does add a little more to the game, with the main chunk of the game playing out over the aforementioned two arenas. This will allow you to choose one of your past Rilla’s (aptly named as your mech is gorilla-shaped) builds and take on timed waves of enemies.
When it comes to the combat and movement this is all physical. You will start in the arena by calibrating your Rilla. This will activate the massive arms you can see looking out of your cockpit, which will then mirror your arm movements perfectly.
This has allowed One Hamsa to use the movement style popularised by Gorilla Tag, and this is something that seems so natural that after the tutorial you will be moving around the arenas without really noticing. This then brings in the very physical combat, as the power your swing your arms in real-life is going to massively affect the amount of damage you will be dealing out in the gladiatorial arenas. As you start to learn the attack patterns of each of the potential enemies you will soon be smacking them out of the air, punching them across the arenas and dodging their attacks fluidly without much thought.
GRITTY AND GRIMEY
The story, feeling and setting of the game is brought together perfectly through the games visual and sound design. With Ona Hamsa really building the identity of the world of UNDERDOGS, though the use of lighting and gritty color palette that comes together to make some very impressive environments. Mixing this in with a comic book style cut-scenes and it really adds those finishing touches the game required.
This has then all been enhanced with use of sound design, that is on-par with the visuals. The sound affects in the battles really pack-a-punch when it comes to the impact of these machines coming together, and voice acting that is just as impactful. The voice acting also pulls together the feeling of the environment and setting with the obscenities laden throughout and King sounding like a roadman. However, at times I thought the obscenities were sometimes too much and too often.
All of this is brought together with a grime soundtrack, which fills every aspect of the game with the grime ambiance that suites the UNDERDOGS world perfectly.
With the amount of roguelikes now littering the VR space, you have to do something different and special to make yours standout and UNDERDOGS does this in every aspect. It offers a great experience from the get go until your ready to end your runs for the night. With a movement and combat system that feels like second nature in no time really allowing you to concentrate on the challenge in front of you. All of this in a world that is build up perfectly with the sound and visual design.