Sairento VR is a power fantasy. A frantic, neon-drenched assault on the senses with the most complex, fluid and satisfying combat system I’ve yet to encounter in VR. While the game’s storytelling functions largely to contextualize your actions, the sensation of slicing, shooting, wall-running and sliding your way through its vivid vision of a near-future Japan is unparalleled.
You play as a member of the Silent Ones – an order of cyber ninjas who practice an ancient and forsaken code of martial arts. Infected by a sinister nano-virus, your comrades have been corrupted, rendered shadows of their former selves that now stand between you and the truth. Sairento’s 10 mission campaign tells a serviceable story, rife with sci-fi jargon and sinister bad guys. Crucially, these few hours act as the perfect introduction to the game’s intricate combat system.
Sairento’s combat is all about flow. Chaining together kills into a stylish dance of death is when the game’s combat is at its best but attaining this level of mastery takes practice. Every button on the Move controller is in use here, often in rapid succession of one another, making a significant learning curve. The left Move button enables free locomotion, moving you in whichever direction you face while the right Move button projects an ark, teleporting you forward or enabling you to jump, allowing you to wallrun and spring off surfaces. Learning the basics of movement took me a while, but once I had this foundation the rest seemed to fall into place.
Soon I was double jumping into the centre of a room, triggering bullet time to thin the enemy’s numbers with a few precision shots and landing in a slide, hurtling towards a foe, katana in hand, ready to land a fatal blow. While I have far from mastered the game’s combat, I now enter each mission with a confidence. I’ve learnt the language of Sairento, and now every surface of the game’s superbly designed environments, each dynamic and rich in verticality, calls out to be run along, slid across or bounced off. In fact, my journey with Sairento feels like it has only begun, and thanks to a deep progression system, perseverance is encouraged and rewarded.
With the campaign complete, a seemingly endless number of missions and challenges lie before me. Categorized into Purge, Assassination, Elimination, Survival and Wave Assault they offer a good variety of objectives from clearing all enemies to testing just how long you can last in an onslaught of adversaries. XP and relics incentivise continued play, with the former unlocking new abilities from an extensive skill tree and the latter acting as buffs and modifiers to enhance both weapons and armour. From increased mobility, health and damage to entirely new skills like the Blade Wave, a charged projectile that can be unleashed from your melee weapon, your performance feels perpetually improving, both in terms of stats and personal skill.
The depth of this combat system is further nuanced by an expansive arsenal of weaponary. Hip-holstered guns and back-mounted swords make up your main means of offense, allowing you to dual wield in any combination. However, a huge variety of ranged and melee weapons let you customize your loadout. Handguns, rifles, SMGs, shotguns, katanas, scythes, shuriken, glaives and bows all invite experimentation, allowing a great deal of personalisation in how you play which in turn encourages creative approaches to every encounter.
At times I’d dual-wield plasma rifles, mindlessly blasting my through missions in a near-constant rhythm of slow-mo jumps and slides. The next mission I’d mix things up, equipping myself with shotguns, a blade-firing wolverine claw, or a scythe which to my surprise could launch itself out on a chain, slicing enemies at range. Each new configuration forces a fresh approach to how you play, ensuring the thrill of combat never wanes.
Several difficulty levels also add to the game’s longevity and manage to balance accessibility with challenge. Novice and normal provide a good starting level while skilled and elite scale well with your ability, providing incremental challenge and rewards. For sadists, there’s the punishing Shinobi difficulty which demands absolute mastery of the game’s mechanics and rewards those brave enough to tackle it with bountiful XP and the rarest relics. Atop Sairento’s wealth of solo content, multiplayer adds PvE, PvP and co-op action making the acrobatic cyber-ninja action all the more hectic with, or against, friends.
While Sairento VR lacks the immersive storytelling of a game like Blood and Truth, it surpasses its peers in terms of gameplay. Brought to life with striking neon art style and intuitive controls, Sairento VR delivers an exhilarating, finely tuned combat system that continues to surprise me with its complexity and depth. With a wealth of modes and plenty more to unlock and discover, I’m already eager to get back into the headset to hone my cyber-ninja skills.
Sairento PSVR Review
Overall - Must Buy - 9/10
Sairento VR is an exhilarating, stylish power fantasy set against a compelling vision of near-future Japan, awash with neon and teaming with cybernetic ninjas. The game’s intricate, fluid combat system is exceptionally well designed and thanks to intuitive controls, a joy to play. Sairento VR offers one of PSVR’s most thrilling and essential gameplay experiences to date.
- A finely tuned combat system that makes for an exhilarating gameplay experience.
- Intuitive controls that utilize PSVR’s full potential.
- A wealth of varied content.
- A deep progression system that incentivizes continued play.
- Stylish art design.
- The complexity of combat and the investment needed to master it may be too involved for more casual players.
- VR acrobatics may induce motion sickness for those prone to it.
Reviewed using PS4 Pro.