Preview: Monster Reapers VR – Ghostbusting 2016 Style, Not 1984 Style

The Halloween season doesn’t need to be about scaring yourself half to death in virtual reality (VR), monsters jumping out of every darkened corner. It can still be ghoulish and amusing at the same time which is what titles like Borrowed Light Studios’ Spectro and Virtual Uppercut Studios’ Monster Reapers VR are all about. Having just hit Steam Early Access, Monster Reapers VR aims to offer some good old fashioned haunted house ghost hunting, it’s just a shame about the movement mechanics.

Monster Reapers VR is a rogue-lite shooter where you find yourself inside a haunted mansion which needs clearing out. In a similar fashion to In Death, the title is about repetition, venturing inside and seeing how far you can get before you’re killed, returning to the lobby to try again. During each run through you are able to collect coins which can then either be used upon death to upgrade abilities, weapons and so forth.

On first inspection Monster Reapers VR is an enjoyable ghost hunting experience. In one hand you start with a crossbow to kill these wayward spirits – later upgrades include guns – while the other hand casts magic. In the beginning, all you have is Light and Vortex, the former illuminating hidden ghosts which float overhead while the latter can suck up damaged ghosts, dropped coins, and rustle furniture to uncover more ghosts and coins. As you progress you can access further magical abilities

And that’s the general premise, running around these rooms rattling furniture and clearing them out. As the levels are procedurally generated the layout is different every time plus there are extras to find like chest rooms with additional buffs. To get the really good equipment you need to ascend the various floors, vanquishing a big boss in the process. Virtual Uppercut Studios has managed to nail a really good looking visual style and the weapon handling works fine, so what happened with the locomotion?

This has to be VRFocus’ biggest gripe with Monster Reapers VR in its current form. The title uses smooth locomotion in combination with either snap or smooth rotation. On paper that sounds fine but the implementation not so much. So to explain. As any VR player knows, when shooting any enemy in a 360-degree environment you’re going to physically turn, it’s natural. However, in Monster Reapers VR this will set the movement controls askew.

When starting, forward is forward and so on, on the Oculus Touch sticks. Yet if you physically turn, say a full 180°, then those controls will be reversed. Obviously, this is even worse if you turn 45°. Which makes running around shooting spooky spectres a little awkward. Using snap turn slightly alleviates the issue but comes undone with multiple enemies. The only solution is smooth turning and keeping your feet planted. Great if you’re a hardcore VR player who can handle fully dual-stick locomotion, not so much for everyone else. And as far as VRFocus could see, there were no other locomotion options apart from increasing/decreasing the vignette intensity.

Which quite honestly removes a lot of the enjoyment of Monster Reapers VR. If you like snap rotation then playing Monster Reapers VR is a constant battle, removing that immersive sensation of freedom VR can offer. Virtual Uppercut Studios has detailed lots of new content it plans on adding during Early Access such as locations, enemies and weapons. But that will all be for nought if Monster Reapers VR is frustrating to play.

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