CastleStorm VR review for PSVR

Platform: PlayStation VR
Also On: PC
Publisher: Zen Studios
Developer: Zen Studios
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-2
Online: Yes

If you’ve played CastleStorm before, this new PlayStation VR and PC release really has nothing new to offer you except the “thrilling” feeling of being able to play it in VR. It is the same release but now it’s a bit more of a pain to play. This is a perfect example of a game that does not need to be in Virtual Reality.

If you’ve never played the original CastleStorm, the story revolves around two rival factions in constant war. To prevent a complete destruction of both sides, a goddess shed two tears that turned into magic gems, one for each side, that brought a cease fire for many years. Now, the Vikings want to possess both gems to completely take over the world, and the King of the humans begins a campaign to defend against the Viking attacks. You mostly control a weapon called a ballista to shoot arrows at approaching armies and to fling objects at rival towers and castles. You can’t focus on just one of these for too long, if you let the ground forces get too close to your castle, they will enter and capture your flag. On the flip side, if you don’t take out the enemies ballistas and destroy their castle, your castle will crumble to the ground.

If things on the ground get too heated, you can call on and control your faction’s hero to even the score, but this leaves you vulnerable to complete destruction of your castle. Now this VR version of the game is known elsewhere as the “Definitive Edition” of CastleStorm. This means we have updated visuals to take advantage of the PS4, and all the previously released DLC content from the original game is included. When you begin playing, you are presented with a movie theater setting and the game is playing on a small screen in front of you. I was horrified to see this at first, since I thought the entire game was going to play like this. Thankfully, when the actual game began, I was sent to a virtual map with 3D elements. It still didn’t feel fantastic and I continued to question if this game needed VR at all.

Also included is a revamped creation mode, where you can build your own castle. The only thing you can’t move is the location of your ballista, but everything else is up to you. There seems to be a lot of new material to use for your creations, and the physics seem to be slightly improved. Much like playing the main game, this also didn’t need to be in VR and trying to play like this is a burden.

It will take a few plays to fully get used to the controls since there is a lot going on, but a bright point in this release are the control issues from the original CastleStorm having been tweaked and enhanced. I found selecting weapons and controlling my troops were much easier than before, and everything worked with no issues, it was just so tedious playing through long battles with the virtual view.

The visuals are still the same from the original definitive edition, with a few added extra elements to take advantage of the PSVR, however everything they have added seems very tacked on and pointless. A good example of this is the aforementioned movie theater you sit in during cutscenes and menus. There are two soldiers on either side of the screen constantly mocking at each other, and it serves no purpose. I suppose it’s funny the first few times you see it, but after a while it becomes annoying. Moving your head and trying to get a better view of the action is difficult with the limited view you actually have, and most things you are seeing can not be interacted with. it would have been nice to include some kind of Move controller support for more interactivity, as this type of game would greatly benefit from it, especially with the creation mode! Sadly you are stuck with the standard controls, making the VR seem even more like a tacked-on extra. The sound effects and music are still as great, with a few new tunes added and the grunts from downed enemies sound more painful.

CastleStorm Definitive Edition is a fun game, but playing it in VR is something I cannot recommend. If you already have the original release, then you are gaining nothing with the VR version. This feels more like it could have been added to the original release as DLC rather than being it’s own download. If you are really hurting for more VR games in your life, this might fill some kind of void, but there are much better offerings than this.

Grade: C+