Every so often you find a new development house that is formed from a talented crew that has previously worked together on block buster games. I always get excited when I see this happen. Fast Travel Games is one of the latest studios to appear enriched with talent from huge teams such as DICE, Guerrilla Games and Ubisoft, who believe that VR is the next platform for games and thus so have taken the unusual option of creating games purely for that format. So, will the move pay off? Time will tell but their first release is here in Apex Construct and it does many things well.
Apex Construct takes place in the future where artificial intelligence has taken over the world and seemingly ended humanity, that is besides yourself. The game is played in the usual first-person VR format and your character awakens to find his left hand has been replaced with a robotic limb as a looming voice apologising for your surprisingly missing hand. This booming voice, whom sounds a lot like James Spader, belongs to Fathr, an ai who is at war with Mothr, another ai, battling to preserve humanity.
Apex Construct at heart is a first-person shooter with exploration and puzzle elements thrown in to keep things interesting. The weapon of choice is a Bow and Arrow which works extremely well due to the move controllers being the only option to play with. One move controller is used to aim the bow and open a protective shield using the trigger, the other move controller draws the arrows back and releases them via the trigger. This works extremely well and certainly adds to the emersion within game.
Although the combat controls are quite excellent to use with the move controllers, getting around isn’t great. Apex Construct uses the popular VR method of teleportation. This is generally used to relieve the effect of motion sickness and in this sense, it works. However, when you are engaged in battle with multiple enemies or trying to move in a precise direction it fails miserably. This is not the only time the controls fail. The puzzle elements often require using computer keyboards and keying in (again a precise movement) can frustrate. Thankfully most of the movement is fine throughout the game, these annoyances only happened occasionally but it was disappointing. Worst still it has more to say about Move controllers as tech rather than the actual games design.
The enemies are obviously all bots but there is a reasonable variety among them and each different type represents a different challenge and different tactic. I found the enemy ai to be quite good. Every so often you could catch an enemy seemingly stagnant and unaware of your presence, however as soon as fired upon they jump into action, seemingly working together to make things difficult.
The story is entertaining, you have Fathr telling you about the threat of mothr and a little history of how things came to be. I couldn’t help but feel attached to his plight and he became more like a friend than a guiding companion. However, there is always the feeling that he isn’t telling the absolute truth. Luckily the whole story is filled in via computer logs and notes scattered around the world.
The level design is well constructed and visually excellent. Apex Construct is visually, the best PSVR game I have played thus far. Smooth lines, vibrant colour and extremely well-designed character types makes this game a visual feast. You can see the Horizon Zero Dawn influence that 3D artist Kim Avaa brings to the game. The resemblances are quite uncanny, which is not a bad thing in any way. Horizon was a stunning looking game.
Although the world in Apex Construct has been dominated by ai robotics, there are plenty of traces of human civilisation left behind. The world is littered with abandoned vehicles, buildings and even bicycles. Throughout buildings there are paintings that resemble portraits of the games creators, and although a little self-indulgent, I love this.
The sound is also outstanding, giving added life to this visually stunning world. So, as you can tell, the production values are very high. You will enjoy being part of this world, and after playing Apex Construct you will be excited to see where future PSVR games can take us in regards to graphical emersion.
Apex Construct is a very good VR title that has been designed for the format from the beginning. It is unfortunate that the move control doesn’t aid the developers into have a more precise control scheme, but aside from this the game is great. I am looking forward to seeing what Fast Travel games comes up with next. If you own a PSVR, Apex Construct is one of the titles you need to play.
Thank you to Sony for providing a copy of Apex Construct for review.