When I go looking for VR games to play, I pay attention to the presentation. I know it's kind of shallow, but if there's one thing I've noticed it's that there's a lot of people putting out their first game as quick VR games. As such, you can often tell the quality of a VR game just by how it looks. I've been wrong in the past, but generally this is an easy way to scope out a quality game. When I saw Dark Legion, I wasn't convinced. Something about the game seemed totally off. However, I'm willing to be proven wrong yet again. So did Dark Legion manage to change my mind, or was it as bad as I feared?
I'm not actually sure there's much of a story. The most the game offers is that you "crash land" on an alien planet. I put crash land in quotation marks because when you actually go outside to look at your ship it's pretty clear you didn't crash. After that, you and an annoying robot set out to go find a way to fix your ship. Halfway through, the story suddenly becomes about you stopping a cyborg army led by a guy literally named "General John". I have no clue how we made that transition, and the story doesn't really have an ending, so much as an eventual "mission complete" pop-up screen. There's a totally random UFO, magic, demons, and a bunch of dead bodies that tell a stupid backstory about cyborg creation in broken English. It's... a thing.
When you first start the game you're put into a training room where you can familiarize yourself with the mechanics. There's some basic concepts that anyone who has played an FPS in VR has probably come to accept. You can move both hands freely, dual wield guns, and reload by shaking the controller. This is actually a bit weird as the game's PlayStation Store trailers showed the player reloading by physically taking a magazine and putting it into their gun, which is making me wonder what happened to that.
There are a few good ideas in play here, but most of Dark Legion is about as generic as you can get. You'll get a few different weapons, but the pistol and assault rifle are the most effective for almost every situation. The only exception is when the game throws a magically shielded enemy at you. In that situation, you have to use the crossbow because it destroys magic shields for... some reason. You also get magic powers that allow you to throw fireballs. I still don't actually know how to do this, just every now and again the game told me I could hit a button to switch to magic, and then I had the ability to throw fireballs for 30 seconds. I'm not sure how it fits in with anything else in the game, or how to activate it consistently.
Each level is a decent size and should allow for quite a bit of exploration, at least in theory. In practice, you have a robot that tries to lead you around. It wanders from chest to chest, making sure you loot them all before you leave the level. Of course, the places it leads you don't really make much sense. You'll often walk by chests and go in big pointless circles. Even worse, if you don't choose to follow the robot, it'll begin making loud annoying noises that drown out all the other sound effects in the game. When you do follow the robot, it manages to find ways to get in the way of combat, floating between you and enemies. I only wish they replaced it with a simple waypoint system.
Speaking of annoying noises, I want to give a special shout-out to the breathing noises stolen from Star Wars. I don't mean "inspired by and meant to sound similar", I mean some enemies of the game literally sound like Darth Vader because they just took that breathing noise. That's called theft, guys.
Occasionally, you get to fight a boss. Each one is conquerable by strafing slowly and pumping bullets its way. Only one boss requires you to occasionally switch to the crossbow to take down his shield. Why there had to be a bunch of bullet sponges to waste my time is beyond me, but it only continued to make me loath Dark Legion. Despite all this, my playthrough clocked in at only a little over an hour, and there was nothing to do once I was done with the game.
It doesn't help that Dark Legion is an ugly game. Part of this is because, technically, the game is just an underperformer. Textures are muddy, character models are iffy, and there's a really bad pop-in problem. More than once enemies and objects would spawn in front of me, requiring me to react or die. I also had a problem with falling through the map. This caused my character to just float away from the world until I reset the game.
Dark Legion is a total artistic mess as well. The opening levels have you fighting giant bugs, demons, lizard men, and flying demons that look like Beholders. None of these enemies fit with the military sci-fi themes of the second half. None of that fits with the random flying magic skeletons that show up during the final level. It almost blatantly feels like assets were taken from other games with little rhyme or reason towards it. Level transitions are equally weird, with one level ending as you open a door and step out into catwalk that juts out into the middle of space. The next level begins with you approaching a military fortress that just floats in space. Every part of it screams "lazy".
Dark Legion Review | Final Thoughts
In the end, Dark Legion is a mediocre FPS with an exceptionally bad presentation. Even the simple joy of getting headshots in VR isn't enough to save it. The game is ugly, the story is dumb, the art is inconsistent, and the sound effects are either annoying or stolen from another place. At the very least it's all over in about an hour, so you don't have to suffer for long. I have no clue who thought this was ready for release, but this game needed way more time in development.
Dark Legion was reviewed on PlayStation VR using a copy purchased by the reviewer. The game is also available on Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.
- Headshots in VR is Always Fun
- Dumb, Nonsensical Story
- Generic FPS Gameplay
- Weird Mechanics
- Annoying Sound Effects
- Terrible Graphics
- Extremely Short