Battle toys in the night in this top-down shooter for the Oculus Rift.
Twin-stick shooters have seen something of a revival on mobile devices, with Minigore, Guerrilla Bob and Infinity Field proving to be massive successes in the App Store. Nighttime Terror brings that trend to virtual reality, but it adds a clever twist to the control scheme to take full advantage of the Oculus Rift headset.
So what’s the game about? In short, it’s a top-down twin-stick shooter where you battle evil toys throughout familiar locations that include an office, bedroom and sand castle. You play as a small character who wears a large hat (which darkens as your health is damaged). It’s possible to pick up bonus weapons including a rocket launcher and shotgun to blast away in-game foes that waddle and walk in your direction. When the game is loaded for the first time you’ll find yourself in a fully 3D menu that lets you pick levels and change settings by simply aiming with your head. To the left is a high-score board that pulls in results from other players across the web, and to the right is an overview of the weapons available to play with. Once you’ve chosen a map you’ll find yourself in a fixed position, hovering over the miniature battlefield below. Imagine that you’re kneeling on the floor and you’ll get an idea of the sense of scale presented in-game. You can lean forward for a closer look the game’s world, or lean to the side to see around the objects below you. The sense of presense is high, and it makes for a captivating experience. That is until the first enemies waddling into view.
The games enemies take the form of abstract toys, including miniature knitted ghost-like heads, lizards and round faces. Each requires a different set of tactics to beat; the ghosts waddle quickly towards your direction, but don’t take much ammo to defeat; while the lizards can whip out a tongue to cause damage from afar. Bigger bosses take a beating to destroy, but are slow and easy to spot behind obstacles, and as the in-game time progresses, you’ll find more and more coming your way. It won’t be long before each level becomes a frantic battle for survival; where every bullet counts and there is nowhere to hide. It’s fast-paced, fun and addictive to boot.
Controlling the game is surprisingly intuitive. You use the right Xbox thumbstick for movement, head-tracking to aim the crosshair and the right trigger to fire your weapon. This method of using your head to aim feels completely natural, even when you’re focusing on a distant enemy that’s creeping your way. During a hectic battle you’ll find yourself quickly panning your head from one foe to another, but it never causes neck strain or dizziness; although it probably causes you to look a bit strange to anyone sitting in the same room as yourself. Alternatively, you can use the right thumbstick to aim your weapon, but it’s clumsy and overly sensitive, making it difficult to accurately aim at enemies.
Graphically Nighttime Terror is a wonderful looking game, with nice texture work and distinctive modelling that makes it easy to distinguish enemies from a distance. It’s possible to lean in close to check out the environments, or even peer under and around objects. Audio on the other hand is rather lacking. The sound effect of a crow hawking is used by several enemy types whenever they’re hit by a bullet, which makes for a repetitive and irritating soundtrack after the 100th bullet strike. Music on the other hand, is nicely done, and helps to create a cheery and cartoony atmosphere.
It has been brought up by a handful of players that Nighttime Terror looks remarkably similar to the Project: Survival Shooter tutorial used by Unity developers to learn how isometric shooter games are created. They may have a point. Both Nighttime Terror and Project: Survival Shooter feature a protagonist wearing a large hat, both see the player battling toys, and both share a similar design aesthetic; but that’s as far as the comparisons go. Nighttime Terror has a flexible camera view, plenty of original environments and additional gameplay mechanics that make for a fine full release.
Nighttime Terror proves that top-down shooters work perfectly on the Oculus Rift. The use of head-tracking to aim feels natural and instinctive, and makes it easier to aim at distant foes. Definitely a game worth checking out for any arcade shooter fan.
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Oculus Rift Experience