Orion13 Is A Narrative-Based Neon-Coated VR Action Game

Not many VR games allow you to roam and jump around freely like traditional non-VR games often do, but Orion13 hopes to give players access to that. The first-person VR hack-and-slash title aims to deliver a full-fledged story-based action game to VR players, and during PAX East 2020, I got the chance to run through some of the adventure.

Orion13 puts you in the robotic shoes of its titular character, a character that has not only become self-aware, but is now looking to break free from society and head back home. Throughout the game, you’ll have to solve various puzzles, learn the secrets the game has to offer and, most importantly, slash your way through a surprisingly large variety of enemies. A challenge mode also exists for players who want to test their might against hordes of enemies, with an online leaderboard showcasing just who the best of the best is.

Movement in Orion13 fairly standard, with your controllers operating how you move and your head acting as where you aim and look. The world of Orion13 is a very bright and colorful one, and surprisingly large. Speaking with Metro VR Studios’ President and Lead Developer Scott Matalon, he said it was his goal to give players a sense of scale and show them just how much there was to do in every level. Some of the tall buildings you might see ahead as you explore will be explored later, for example, meaning that the pretty backdrop you see isn’t just there to make you stare in awe.

When it comes to fighting enemies, Orion13 takes the generic hack-and-slash combat mechanics and tweaks it just a bit. Instead of being able to simply flail your arms around to win, you’ll have to actually try and land heavy strikes against enemies. Many times during my demo, I was forced to retreat from a fight because I wasn’t landing enough hard hits. I needed to relearn my combat tendencies.

Because the game tracks how hard you’re swinging the sword as well, it can take some time to get used to just how to take enemies down, but once you do, it’s extremely satisfying to feel the strength of your swing correlate to an attack in the game. The enemies in the game aren’t any slouches either, as they can take you down very quickly if you let them. Unfortunately, there are some issues with the combat, specifically due to when enemies swarm you.

Enemies often got very close, making combat not only even more difficult, but downright impossible thanks to how the game is meant to be played. Thankfully, there are features to help you get out of a bind, as you’re equipped with two different abilities, one of which allows you to sap life from an enemy and give it to yourself, and the other freezes an enemy and lets you unleash a flurry of attacks on it. The lack of distance from enemies can get annoying, but at least you do have these options to make the fight fairer for you.

Outside of the combat, it was clear during my time with the demo that Orion13 aims to be much more than just a simple hack-and-slash title. During the end of the first level, you’re presented with a button pressing puzzle – one of many puzzles in the game, according to Matalon –  to solve in order to proceed. Later in the game, you can also find various platforming sections, which sees you having to time jumps across large chasms, a feat that isn’t too hard in a non-VR game, but becomes much more challenging (and even more rewarding) when you have to stare down the jump in a virtual world.

During my brief time with Orion13, it was clear that the focus was very much on creating something that encompassed a ton of genres. The heavy focus may have been on hack-and-slash action, but there were other elements very creatively layered on that made me want to keep playing. Given that the combat is so much of the game, it could use some more fine-tuning to further enhance things. Orion13 may not have the polish of a AAA VR title, but it does have a ton of ambition, and manages to stick the landing on many of its attempts.

Orion13 is available now on Steam for the Oculus Rift at the price point of $19.99.


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