Sairento: review

  • Format: PSVR (version reviewed), Vive, Oculus
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Perp Games
  • Developer: Mixed Realms
  • Players: 1 (offline), 2 (online)
  • Site: http://www.sairentovr.com/ 
  • Game code provided by the publisher

Cowboy, pirate, and ninja. The holy trinity of fantasy jobs. Sairento hopes to sate your hunger for the last one on that list via the magic of virtual reality, putting you into the boots of not just a ninja, but a cyberninja. You can wallrun and do flips and everything. Sounds pretty cool, right?

And it is. Your character is suitably athletic, with a pleasing buffet of weapons at her disposal. At its very best moments, this is a game that makes you feel like a first class badass. It’s entirely possible to leap a hilariously unrealistic height into the air, take out two enemies with headshots, bring down another with the last few bullets in your pistol as you hit the floor, and take out yet another with the sword in your other hand as you slide forward, the attacks of other foes whistling harmlessly past your head. Of course, by then you would have finished reloading your pistol, ready to double and even triple-jump through the air and bounce off the walls once more.

As great as this sounds (and is), it’s not quite representative of the whole game. You have to use two Move controllers to play Sairento, and this is the source of both the best and the worst of the game. The positive side of it – integral to the experience – is that you can of course operate each hand independently. This feeds into the aforementioned choice of weaponry, which gives you much more choice in how you want to play than many games offer, VR or otherwise.

You go into battle with two weapons strapped to your back, and two smaller weapons in hip holsters. You can mix and match them any way you please. We generally favour a sword in one hand and a pistol in the other, but there are many more options available to you. Want to stick to swords and other melee weapons? Go for it – you can even deflect bullets. Fancy the idea of dual-wielding guns in every playthrough? Absolutely an option. Sniper rifle and shuriken? Why not. Best of all, aiming guns and swinging your sword are both responsive and instinctive.

Things aren’t this sharp on PSVR, where the game has big time jaggies at mid to long distance (though you’ll usually be too busy to notice)

The flipside, though, is traditional VR issues rearing their smelly heads. The swift and athletic movement works pretty well, but you’re never quite in complete control. Your cyberninja is capable of flipping through the air, sliding along the floor, running along the walls while slicing the heads off enemies… but not walking. You can not walk. All movement is done via teleportation, cleverly masked as your ninjury at work athleticisim. Hold down the right Move button, and a familiar line of chevrons appears, the trajectory of which you can alter. Select your destination, release the button, and off you jump/dash/slide. It can certainly make for heart-poundingly exciting set pieces, but it also makes precision movement in small spaces all but impossible.

Although you can enable free rotation within the (admirably detailed) options, this never feels fast or smooth enough, and the default snapping actually works best. Still, you quickly get used to the movement system, and the moments you end up smacking your face into a wall are offset by the moments you take out a handful of enemies within a matter of seconds in the most ostentatious manner you can think of.

You may have noticed that we haven’t talked about what you actually do. Well in fact, we have, because what you do is this: kill everyone you see. With one exception. The brief ten-mission campaign features plenty of dialogue, and a plot of sorts – but it’s all paper thin and uninteresting, yet somehow manages to end on a staggeringly underwhelming and anticlimactic note. Still, that doesn’t really matter. Sairento is all about killing enemies as quickly, effectively, and stylishly as possible.

Not a good idea to stay this close to this guy for too long.

While the campaign is of a typically short VR length, Mixed Realms has been extremely smart when it comes to encouraging long-term play. There are loot shooter elements, in that each mission rewards you with randomly generated visual and gameplay augments for your weapons and armour. The more you play, the stronger and more resilient you become.

The real replay value lies not in the campaign, but in the challenges and mini-missions outside of it. Generally briefer and more intense than the story levels, they provide a decent workout for your skills, especially if you brave the higher difficulties. Brilliantly, you can create and host these for two player online co-op, which without a doubt showcases Sairento at its finest (despite the loss of the bullet time you can otherwise activate during play). Players are sadly thin on the ground (thankfully, you can see how many people are online in each region), but persevere in your search, because the payoff is worth it. This game deserves a large and active community.

Come to Sairento with the knowledge that it’s all about movement and combat, rather than story or setting, and you’re in for a good time (particularly if you have a loot shooter mindset). Perfect it’s not. Something that lets you pretend you’re a master swordsman (sometimes by maniacally flapping your hands around as though you’ve just seen a spider on your arm) it is.

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Written by Luke K

Luke plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He's the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. Chances are, if you pick up a copy of the latest Official PlayStation Magazine or GamesMaster, you'll find something he's written in there. Luke doesn't have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.

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