The Walker is one of those games that shows so much promise, is actually somewhat fun, but a far cry from what it could have been. There is some genuine love in slaying Chinese zombies and/or demons, but some technical faults and strange game designs leave a lot to be desired. There’s a definite reason why the gameplay trailer to this title is shown in snippets and quick cuts. However, as far as PSVR wave shooters go you could do a lot worse.
The Walker is about an unnamed protagonist who returns home with a mysterious book from his travels. Once he opens it he unleashes an apparent helpful deity who introduces him to the world of demons and exorcists. Then finds out that he comes from a long line of noble exorcists and I’m sure you can piece the rest of the back story from there. Exorcists good, demons bad, stop them from killing people. You’re also given a piece of equally mysterious armor which houses a spirit who will occasionally give you advice and a bit of lore between levels. From here you are placed into one of five areas and tasked with defeating these ancient entities. There’s not much backstory on the origin of all this, but we really don’t need a cinematic treatment in a VR title right? See something coming at you menacingly, shoot it!
Like other wave shooters, gameplay is not only paramount but fun. You’re placed inside a very small circle you can lean around in and enemies will slowly approach you from multiple directions. Sadly, the promise of 360 degree combat was overstated. Rarely will you find situations in which you need to literally watch your back. You can fight off these horrors with a gun, a sword, and magic spells that can be imbued into each weapon. The guns are fairly simple to use with a red dot reticule marking your aim and the PS Move trigger acting like…well…a trigger. Swords are an interesting addition insomuch as you won’t use them nearly as much as the firearms. One reason is thanks to the way you use them. There’s no fluid sword motions and flailing around with them will probably do more damage than any other way. Secondly, the guns were so well implemented that I only took out my blades on harder difficulties. Luckily you can press the Move button to switch weapons on the fly.
Our hero also has the power to wield scrolls full of energized or ice energy. Pressing the Move button on the left controller brings them up so you can physically grab them. Then you place it over your current weapon and gives it one of the properties. These techniques obviously do more damage so there is a limit to their use compared to how many enemies you vanquish. Speaking of which you’ll only come across three different types of enemies and two bosses. There’s small ones that crawl towards you on all fours, demons covered head to toe in ancient armor who lumber towards you, and other demons acting as stationary archers with fire arrows. None of them have much movement or variety and when they do suddenly change directions, the animations can be quite jerky. The bosses consist of a winged, devil creature possessing a woman’s body and an enormous, round, prisoner demon who towers over you. Each one has certain ways to beat or handle them and they’re not very hard to take down.
Overall, hit detection is pretty spot on for The Walker. Dodging arrows with a head tilt and swiping at demons near your feet never feel disconnected from your actions. Assuming your setup is operating properly that is. This is especially the case when you acquire the ability to duel wield your weapons. Parrying enemy attacks and flapping my arms with my swords was quite fun, but I have to admit it has been done better elsewhere. I also think it’s prudent to mention I played sitting down in a chair with wheels. As such I was able to move around a bit more than perhaps the game would have liked. I was even able to use makeshift cover because of this and dodge arrows easier. Of course, I had to make sure not to run over my PSVR cord. After coming to terms with my setup and abilities I found that the game only has five levels and a typical challenge mode. You can play those handful of levels on three different difficulties with new equipment each time. This only took me about two and a half hours and there’s not much replayability beyond that.
Another fun, positive aspect of The Walker is some of the minor horror elements. The game is far from one except the few times a ghostly apparition makes its way on-screen. If the entire title had small nuggets like this it may have made a better experience. What didn’t make a better experience was the lack of oversight or outright intention to leave out sound effects. Some scripted scenes didn’t even have any when glass broke or screams should have been heard. It was so noticeable and bad that I honestly couldn’t tell if it was done on purpose or not. Similar problems also arose in the aforementioned boss fights. The winged possessed girl passed through my character multiple times and the prisoner demon turned invisible for the latter half of his fight on the hardest difficulty. Fortunately, for being such a basic game, with weird problems, the graphics were actually pretty good. Even the concept art and I say that because there’s a ton of loading screens with them.
The Walker PSVR Review
The Walker isn't going to convince someone PSVR is the future. Heck, it's not even the best wave shooter on the peripheral. Enemies are slow, gameplay is fun but basic, and there's a bunch of weird decisions that I still can't tell if were done in seriousness. Guns, swords, magic, and a little bit of horror though kept me playing and gladly so. If only there were more levels, more enemies, and more polish.
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 base PS4 and PSVR.