Wave shooters. Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em. Ok, maybe not that last part! The truth is, if you've been a VR gamer for any appreciable length of time, you're probably up to your ears in wave shooters. You'd probably rather do a hundred push-ups, or jog a mile in a raging blizzard, rather than endure another crappy wave shooter. Well, I've got good news and bad news. The bad news is, Time Carnage is indeed a wave shooter. There's no getting around that. The good news is, this might be one of the best wave shooters we've seen to date.
The thing that really sets Time Carnage apart from the pack, is the fact that the game has a unique play mechanic that gives it that extra something. Sure, you stand in one place, blasting wave after wave of baddies, but it's what you do in-between all the blasting that counts. You see, the game has an interesting spin on the reload mechanic. In most games, when your gun runs out of ammo, you must hit another button, or move your gun down to your side to reload it. This game, has you placing your weapons on a futuristic pedestal, and waiting a short amount of time for the device to fully recharge your weapon of choice. Or maybe you pull the weapon off with only a half-charge. It's up to you. You're going to have to think on the fly, and make a lot of quick decisions.
One underrated aspect of this game, especially on PlayStation VR, is the roomscale feel of the game. PSVR doesn't really feature legitimate roomscale capabilities, but with Time Carnage, you really feel like you're occupying a large amount of space. You're standing in the middle of a large, circular time-traveling platform. While you might be occupying a small play area in real life, in VR you feel like there's lots of space surrounding you. The four pedestals that surround you in a half-circle, really help establish this feeling. You're constantly reaching out and grabbing weapons, and then placing them back so that they can recharge. It's this constant manipulation that sells the whole game.
Eventually, you'll start to prefer certain weapons over others. Loadout decisions in between areas will be absolutely critical to your success in the late waves of each area. As you continue your way through the game, you'll unlock new and more powerful weapons. Some will be perfect for close contact, while others are great for long-range accuracy. Which weapons you want, and which configuration you arrange is paramount. Once you get acclimated to this system, you'll be dual-wielding machine guns like a total bad ass! Then immediately switching out of that for dual shotguns. You'll get such a good feel for the game, that you won't even need to actually look at the weapons before grabbing them. You'll know exactly how far to reach out, and it will become second nature in no time.
Graphically, the game is hit and miss. Some background areas are impressive, while others look mediocre. Enemy designs are the same way. Some enemies look fantastic, while others are almost laughable in appearance. I'm playing the game on a PlayStation 4 Pro setup, and the graphics are still quite chunky and pixelated. The well known PSVR "vaseline" look is very much in full-effect. HTC Vive or Oculus Rift players with powerful PC's can probably crank the supersampling and end up with a very good looking game.
Sound design is actually a standout feature of this game. We usually don't notice the sound very much unless it's doing something that irritates us. This game is notable, because the sound can enhance the immersion factor. Especially if you have the volume level cranked. There were times in this game, where I nearly jumped out of my shoes hearing the approaching rumble of some unspeakable monstrosity. Of course, the sound was more bark than bite. More often then not, the approaching monster would be somewhat of a letdown. You'd hear what sounds like an earthquake taking place all around you, only to discover an easily dispatchable Triceratops herd.
At the end of the day, while we need another wave shooter like we need a hole in our heads, I can't help but think those that ignore this game are making a terrible mistake.
Time Carnage is currently available for the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR with a 20 percent discount for the price of $15.99 until April 24th. (PlayStation Plus required to get this discount on PSN)