Going into Shadow Legend VR I was expecting an in-depth RPG for the PSVR that, by no means rivalling Skyrim, could at least comparatively be a quasi Dragonborn for virtual reality. On that front, my expectations weren’t quite met but I still haven’t had this much fun in the PSVR since Blood & Truth. It’s more than a worthy RPG addition to the PlayStation 4 peripheral and an incredible step up from Vitruvius VR’s last outing in Mervils: A VR Adventure. If you’ve ever been looking for an intuitive exploration game to go with your VR Headset, Shadow Legend VR demands attention. Oh, and there’s a pretty neat God of War easter egg just so you know.
Shadow Legend VR puts you in the shoes of Grand Master, the most skilled Templar warrior in Anaria. His home kingdom soon finds itself the target of an evil plaguing the land. One of the two gods ruling this world, Lord Adaroth, has found a way to corrupt the living and turn them into undead slaves. These zombie knights then ransack the land at the behest of their evil master. All is not lost though as the goddess Lady Evelyn has your back and will act as the occasional voice in your ear explaining things. Naturally, she wants you to stop Adaroth’s intention of bringing darkness to the land by seeking him out and ending the dark god for all eternity. Throughout the five or so hour playtime, the Grand Master will learn more about these two deities and why they fight each other so.
The gameplay is in first person and mostly consists of exploration with dashes of combat and a touch of environmental puzzles. There will be plenty to do in the mostly small and linear maps thanks to side activities and collectables. Each level is nicely tiered with something always above, below, and behind you. You’ll find yourself climbing across strewn chains in the air, scaling walls with picks, hanging on ziplines, and shooting down or retrieving collectable runes hidden away throughout the area. There’s also plenty of treasure in the form of gold bars, chalices, jewels, coins, and ore to loot. You can then sell most of these to Tarius who acts as a merchant and will be the only NPC (outside of the two gods) you’ll see and hear from after the first few chapters. Sorry, no companions or sidekicks here.
He does, however, barter with a handful of cool weapons for you to fight undead knights and two bosses throughout the journey. And when I say cool I’m talking about lightning staff, freezing bow and arrows, fire katana, a mini-cannonball gun, and a few others I’ll avoid spoiling so you can discover them yourself. When it comes to actual combat though it won’t matter much other than you have a melee weapon sheathed at your hip, a projectile instrument on your back, or even an item that can do both. Firing arrows or ammunition will require the PSVR user to rely on their actual aim. I found that it was pretty easy to point and shoot when facing skeletons but necessary to aim down the sights when outside of battles. Close quarters combat in Shadow Legend VR does a better job than most with just flailing a sword around to deal damage. Granted you can still somewhat spaz out with your sword, but enemies will not be interrupted in their attacks. So you have to parry one of three attack animations with your reflexes or get around a shield. It is possible to physically dodge arrows on the other hand. The result is a fighting mechanic that feels tense and personal near every time. Especially more so in the boss battles.
As I said though Shadow Legend VR mainly focuses on exploration and checking out all the side activities to do. Unfortunately, most of them are pointless from a story perspective and mainly pertain to trophy achievements while a select few offer monetary or collectable rewards. You can sharpen your weapon at stone wheels for slightly increased damage, brew health potions in a few, scattered cauldron locations, cook meat in a pan over a fire and then consume the sustenance for health points, and discover weapons in secret areas. Things like feeding a horse, playing fetch with a dog, spearfishing, growing plants, smelting iron, and the like only appear once or so with no other purpose than checking a box on an optional objective. I still enjoyed my time with them though as it more than likely led to me discovering runes of power. As I mentioned they act like the prototypical collectable, but also play a part in being “strong” enough to buy certain weapons. So it is in your best interest to keep an eye out for them.
All of those gameplay aspects I mentioned are also extremely well-implemented with the VR technology and I nary had a problem. This can be said even for Shadow Legend VR’s HUD, menu, and inventory selection. What to check out your objectives or options? Press a button and a book will unfold at your chest. Need to open your inventory? A treasure chest with slots to take out individual items appears before you. It should be said that the chest now stays in one place instead of following the player’s movements. My personal favorite was interacting with good ol’ Tarius. There’s a mat on a table in which the player can physically place items they want to sell. From the inventory chest that is. Then you barter with him and place a bag of coins, from your coin stash, in his hand. It’s nothing too groundbreaking mind you, just a novel and well-implemented concept in a VR game. I hope more PSVR titles adopt something similar going forward.
The technical side of things offers up a nice variety to enjoy this carefully crafted RPG experience. You can move the Grand Master with teleporting or smooth movements and travel a direction either by looking at where you want to go or pointing with the PS Move controllers. There is also snap movement for turning and at which degree amount you’ll turn and the ability to activate slow motion when falling. You know for the queasy among us since there’s practically no fall damage here. The only negative thing I’ll say about the inner workings of Shadow Legend VR is the chance your sheathed weapon gets mixed up with climbing registration. The title won’t know which option you’re going for and provide the player with neither unholstering a sword nor grasping a climbing point.
There’s not much replayability here other than those optional objectives and trophy hunting, but you can return to each level with the proceedings reset. For those thinking that’s a bad idea will be grateful levels are regenerated due to those runes of power. Some of them can fall off the map, get stuck in objects, and disappear completely. Shadow Legend VR is also a pretty easy Platinum except utilizing the ballista for me personally. There’s a moment in the game where you have to use this entrenched weapon and shoot down five enemies without missing. I for the life of me could not do this and I still don’t fully know why. It got to the point I wished I could increase my ballista skill points as I could with melee and ranged damage and health.
Shadow Legend VR PSVR Review
Overall - Must Buy - 9/10
There’s always a good feeling when you’re anticipating a title and it delivers a remarkable journey. Especially with my last few outings in the PSVR. Sure, Shadow Legend VR could do with some more combat opportunities, but as an exploration RPG with so much to do in such compact, beautifully crafted areas I can find little to complain about. You’ll feel like you’re really on a fantasy quest, you’ll feel heroically in control at all times, and I can’t think of a better way to remind people at the start of 2020 that VR is still not a gimmick.
- Fluid, innovative VR controls and mechanics
- Plenty to discover in simple level design
- Combat is some of the best in the PSVR
- You’ll feel like a real fantasy hero on an actual quest
- Minor issues with registration if two things are close together
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 Pro.