Four years ago, Zen Studios released CastleStorm on home consoles, and since then it has hit just about everything with a screen. You can play on the go with the PS Vita, play on your PS3 on your couch, or stream it via your PS4 to your PSTV in your bedroom. Now you can play on your PSVR headset – something infinitely more likely than the previous examples…
I have to admit that I was a little puzzled as to why CastleStorm was being released in VR. I mean, c’mon, it’s not exactly a game that screams to be played in VR. It’s a 2.5D tower-defense/adventure game that’s played from left to right. For once in my life, I was right – it doesn’t scream to be played in VR, but that doesn’t mean it’s no good.
CastleStorm VR starts out with you taking a seat in a virtual cinema. Yes, the game takes place “a century” ago, but I think I can look over this glaring historical inaccuracy… The game introduces you to the story via the virtual cinema, and it’s a place you’ll find yourself thrown to quite often; all cut-scenes play out in the cinema, which was a nice touch I thought. Though don’t go into CastleStorm VR for the story. The story mode wrapped around the single player game exists purely to give you more battles. It has it’s moments as the characters are quite comical, but there’s nothing standout here.
Once you’ve gone through the opening cut-scenes (which are skipable, thankfully) you’ll be in the throws of your first battle. And it’s exactly as it was in every previous release – except now you’re flinging your arrows, rocks, and apple bombs in VR. The goal is to defend your castle from the incoming waves of enemies, and on some levels you’ll need to destroy their castle, though in others you’ll take on the role of one of the game’s heroes for special levels . To keep the pesky bad guys from your castle, you’ll need to fire your projectiles, harness magic, and deploy your own troops to become fodder for your foes while you lob a variety of projectiles at the opposing force’s castle. Let too many enemies through and you’re done. To win you just need to meet one of the level’s criteria, be it smashing their castle to the ground or retrieving an item from the battlefield, it’s all very easy to follow and understand.
It’s actually a rather simple game, in all honesty; easy to learn, difficult to master, as they say. The further along your progress in the game’s campaign, the harder it gets to keep your perfect track record. A wolf may slip through, a troll may start banging at your doors – you get the idea. It takes quick thinking and a steady thumb to maintain a perfect track record – something I’ll never achieve in this lifetime, thanks to my lack of time/patience. But for those who are perfectionists, I guess CastleStorm VR will provide you with a decent challenge on that front.
The real challenge for most players will be getting through the higher levels. You need to strike a balance between lobbing your projectiles at the enemy fort, while also making sure the ground solider aren’t getting too close to home. Despite losing many levels many times (and despite having played it many times on PS Vita!) it never really gets too frustrating. Sure, it’s annoying to have to go through it again, but this time you’ll do it with feeling. Or at least that’s what I’d tell myself to spare my one surviving DualShock 4…
The game is played through the PSVR headset, so naturally you’ll need one handy to play. You’ll also only need a DualShock 4 controller to play. There’s no PSVR Aim support with this, and c’mon, why would there be? And your PS Move controllers can take a break and maybe charge a little; CastleStorm VR is all about the DualShock 4, and for me, that’s a good thing.
The controls in previous releases have always been spot on, or at least I thought so, so I was chuffed to find that there’s no pointless gimmicky waving around of the arms when a DualShock 4 does the job perfectly well. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I’ve never had any issues with the controls in the past, and so it’s nice to be able to say the same is true with the latest edition of CastleStorm.
As for the how the game looks and runs – nothing has changed. It’s still got the same colorfully animated characters and levels, and it runs as smooth as you’d like any VR release to run. The art style is simple yet charming, so naturally it’s perfect for PSVR. The battlefields are well detailed, bright, and always full of colour; there’s very little chance of you losing track of what’s going on.
There’s a fair amount of content in CastleStorm VR on PSVR, what with it being the Definitive Edition with the extra DLC campaigns. You’ll be spending many an hour inside your sweaty little helmet if you want to finish the game, and many more if you’re a trophy hunter. Essentially, this is the same game that we’ve seen before. There’s a couple of new additions that have been added since the original release four years ago with the castle editor that allows you to build your own towers and see how they fare, and the online multiplayer. You can play co-op survival, or go head-to-head to kill your mates. They’re both nice additions to the campaign and they make the relatively low price ($14.99) even easier to recommend.
What you’re getting for your money is another release of CastleStorm VR. If you’ve played it before, you’re not going to be in for any surprises. It plays just how it always has, but this time it’s in VR. Does it need to be in VR? No, not really, but it doesn’t suffer for it. It’s still pretty cool being able to turn your head across the battlefield and see what’s going down. Or maybe turn your head and watch some fat, old, pervert clap as your Sir Gareth slays it in the arena. If you’re longing for something new to play, it’s worth a punt. If you’ve played it before, enjoyed it, and wonder what it’s like in VR, then, again, I’d say it’s worth a punt.
CastleStorm VR PS4/PSVR Review
CastleStorm VR is a sort of middle-of-the-road release for Sony's fledging platform. It's not going to be a massive hit that'll be remembered fondly as one of the early greats, nor will it be hated by VR enthusiasts on release. It's a familiar experience with the added flavour of VR. An ice cream with an extra chocolate stick is how I'd put it.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a digital copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using PS4 Slim.