What is it about zombie heads that are so deliciously explodable? Or maybe I should ask, what is wrong with us as a species that we love to explode zombie heads like so much rotten watermelon? I don’t know the answers to these existential questions, and I don’t think I want to know. I could dwell on these troubling thoughts, but instead, I’ll probably just play some more zombie shooters, like the latest PSVR release, Contagion VR: Outbreak.
Monochrome Corp has been working on this one for a while. It’s currently in early access on the PC, and the PSVR version shows some signs of a game that isn’t quite done. But if you have a PSVR and suffer from the aforementioned human condition, then Contagion VR: Outbreak may just satisfy your lust for brain popping.
First of all, you’ll need a pair of Move controllers to play. The game features realistic gun reloading, so neither the Dual Shock 4 or the Aim controller is compatible. You can, however, use the 3D Rudder peripheral. This comes in handy as it maps all turning and movement to your feet and allows your hands to focus on the (initially) complicated reload mechanic. The 3D Rudder was a little too sensitive for my taste, so hopefully, they will add an adjustment for this down the road.
The Move controllers use a version of The Skyrim movement technique that we’ve all come to know, but I played mostly with the 3D Rudder. Despite it being more sensitive than I like, I still preferred it over the Move controllers due to the complicated inventory system and gun reloads. Each weapon reloads somewhat realistically, meaning the mechanic varies depending on its real-life counterpart. You have to pull out the clip and pop in a new one before chambering a round. While this is nothing new in the VR world, it’s not as common on the PlayStation VR, possibly due to the lack of analog sticks. A cumbersome reload mechanic featuring a mix of real-life movements and button presses while pressing buttons to turn and move, make this a mess in high-stress situations. Add all of this to the fact that picking things off of your chest (or the ground) isn’t very accurate or consistent. It’s no wonder the military makes soldiers practice this until it’s hardwired so deep that they could perform these complicated tasks without even realizing they were doing it. Besides a literal ton of firearms to scavenge, you can also use tools for melee damage. A pipe wrench is nice to have when you just can’t get your rifle loaded as the zombies are chomping at your heels.
The story mode is broken into three chapters that tell the story of a zombie apocalypse from three different perspectives. I was surprised that these stories weren’t more connected, but on the plus side, it did add some diversity to the gameplay. I could argue there is almost too much diversity, but I’ll get to that in a moment.
The first two chapters feature typical zombie scenarios that offer typical tension and excitement. The first mission actually looks pretty good and made me overlook the lacklustre voice acting. The writing does an average job telling the story, but the actor’s delivery needed much tighter directing. It turns out “voice acting” is still acting and you can’t just find a couple of dudes off the street to make me believe that zombies are, in fact, trying to eat me. It’s too bad, really. Voice acting aside, the guns sound great and the other sound effects were convincing as well. The music and creaky doors offered some decent tension, too.
The second level takes place mostly outside and doesn’t feature anywhere near the polish of the first mission. The zombies weren’t that convincing in the first, but it was the environments in the second mission that took the biggest hit. It’s in VR, however, so I was able to overlook this. The third mission was where Monochrome Corp took the biggest swing. You play as a little girl in a big spooky mansion. Your parents are now (wait for it) undead, and you need to get out of the house before they devour your tiny little-girl-limbs. You can’t escape until you solve the puzzles of the mansion while trying to avoid your zombie parents. So in the middle of my zombie shooter, an escape room game broke out. It didn’t work for me, but, eh, at least they tried.
If you want less bad acting and more zombie slaying, you can try the free roam mode. This drops you into a level and lets you walk around with nothing to do but blast the undead. There is also a shooting range, which I highly recommend. You’ll want to master the reloading of each of these weapons until the physical act is seared into your brain because no matter how comfortable you feel with the process, it becomes way more difficult when your virtual life is on the line.
The team behind Contagion VR: Outbreak is clearly committed to the game, as they’ve already released many patches to fix the rather large number of bugs since release. They’ve also promised a fourth part of the story as free DLC eventually. Unfortunately, it’s still full of bugs and needs a slew of quality of life improvements to justify the current asking price of $25.
Contagion VR: Outbreak isn’t an Arizona Sunshine killer, or even Killing Floor: Incursion, but it does offer something for those of us who like to hunt zombies. I believe it’s the only game on the PlayStation VR where you can kill a zombie with an acoustic guitar. That may not be enough to sway you to buy Contagion VR, but it isn’t nothing.
Contagion VR: Outbreak PSVR Review
Overall - Good - 6/10
Contagion VR: Outbreak offers some decent zombie-killing fun with a slew of weapons that feel and sound great. Outside of the first level, the environments and zombies lack detail and the voice acting is Thomas Wiseau levels of bad, but the disjointed story does build some tension. It’s priced a little high at this point, but if they continue to clean it up and deliver the promised (and good) fourth level, then it would be easier to recommend.
- Decent level designs
- A ton of weapons that sound great and feel good to shoot
- Fun to reload the different guns when you master it, and the tech isn’t being touchy
- Another excuse to use my 3D Rudder
- Zombies lack detail
- Voice acting stalls the immersion
- Picking things up isn’t very accurate, causing much frustration
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using PS4 Slim.