In one possible future, we’ll have machines that do whatever we need, weird energy drinks, the ability to make short-ranged teleport jumps at will. Of course, you can’t have all of this without secret government conspiracies or killer robots in the mix as well. Raw Data is a first-person shooter that has you surviving against waves of enemies while defending data, but is the game any fun, or did it need to be cooked longer?
You’ll play as an operative for a hacker group named SyndiK8 who’s sent to infiltrate Eden Corporation after people who work for the company begin to go missing. Naturally, Eden is hiding some crazy things. As SyndiK8 gets closer to figuring out the twisted truth, they’ll be joined by a rogue AI named Simon who just wants to be helpful. Ultimately the plot isn’t going to set the world on fire, and you’ll probably guess most the twists long before they happen, but there are some fun creative moments here. The good voice acting really helps propel the game’s plot much better than it should have.
You’ll play as one of four operatives: Bishop, Sijah, Boss, or Elder. Each has their own unique weapon, abilities, and playstyle. Bishop has a pistol that he needs to reload occasionally, while Boss has a shotgun that needs to be pumped between shots. All things considered, my favorite of the bunch was Sijah. Armed with a sword and telekinetic abilities, there’s an absurd level of fun in grabbing an enemy, pulling them over, running them through, and then flinging them into another enemy. Every time you finish a level with a character, they gain a new ability, like Boss being able to knock enemies into the air with a burst of air, or Bishop being able to slow down time. While Sijah was a favorite, I had fun with most of the characters. The only exception to this was Elder, the bow-wielder who I just never really got to work in a way that I was comfortable with.
Each mission has the same basic idea. You need to survive five waves against swarms of robots. While you can be killed by these robots, you also just respawn a couple seconds after you die exactly where you were, so it’s not a huge deal. The real goal is to protect the data uplink from being destroyed. While you may be alone in doing this, you can get some support by building turrets. Every robot you kill gets you money that you can spend building up laser turrets, mortars, flamethrowers, and shields to provide extra help against the swarm of enemies.
If there’s one thing Raw Data suffers massively from, it’s repetition. The game’s first six levels all play exactly the same: you protect your uplink from five waves of robots until you’ve finished the level, rinse and repeat. It began to make me wonder what the point of it all was, and I was starting to get bored before each level was over. Then at level seven, I got to ride a tram to an open garden area where the air was full of drugs, causing my character to hallucinate unless I stood near some glowing trees for a couple of seconds. It’s a level so creative that it makes me wonder what on Earth was happening with the first six levels. The last few remaining levels display similar creative moments, like riding an elevator while dodging lasers and destroying turrets.
While the last few levels get rather creative with the design, the enemy variety stalls. There are a few different tiers of “punchy robots” and “shooty robots”, but once you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all. The rare unique variations, like a robot that charges you with the goal of knocking you off platforms, is clever but not quite enough to actually change up how I played the game. By the end, I could finish most of the levels just by repeating the same strategy. At least fighting these enemies are fun. Carefully placed shots or swings of the blade could lob off limbs to cripple enemies. There’s always a great feeling when you’re able to take out a robot’s legs and reduce it to just crawling around.
It should be noted that the PlayStation VR version of Raw Data is missing the 5v5 competitive multiplayer mode and the ability to play the campaign in co-op. It feels extremely weird to have these modes removed, especially since the campaign almost felt like it was built for co-op. Is it a total deal breaker? I’d still get the game if PSVR is your only option and the single player sounds interesting to you. However, if you have the choice, go grab the PC version instead.
Thankfully, if you only have the one option, the game still looks and sounds great on console. Being in the world of Raw Data is a treat, and getting to fight the crazy robots that populate the creative environments is always joyful. There’s just a special something when you manage to swing a blade perfectly and lob off both of a bot’s arms or aim a shot to blow off a robot’s head and getting to watch the accompaniment of sparks that follow. All of this is accompanied by a rather fantastic soundtrack that quickly manages to make each fight feel intense, and each scene work as needed.
Raw Data showed off all these cool ideas that could have worked to really make the game fun, but by the time they show up it’s a bit too little too late. Fighting robots was fun, but got repetitive and Raw Data doesn’t do enough to try and change its scenarios up. Maybe the multiplayer would be a huge improvement, but by cutting it out of the PSVR release, I had little else to turn to. Maybe we should serve the data cooked next time.
Raw Data is a competent and well made VR FPS that suffers from a gameplay loop that drags on longer than it really should.
- Story Kept Me Entertained
- Some Fantastic Later Levels
- Great Visuals and Soundtrack
- Gameplay Loop Gets Boring
- Little Enemy Variety
- No Multiplayer on PSVR Version