Netflix has been putting out great original TV shows lately, with interesting hits that include Orange is the New Black, BoJack Horseman, Stranger Things, and House of Cards. One particularly noteworthy show is Voltron: Legendary Defender, a reboot of the old cartoon series that has been reviewed quite positively since it debuted. A show about five robot lions combining their power into one giant robot is basically already prime video game material, and developer Digital Domain decided to bring it to VR to really sell the experience. Does Seeds of Corruption provide a good starting episode for DreamWorks Voltron VR Chronicles, or should we shut this robot down?
The first episode sees a mysterious distress signal on a planet being investigated by Lance, Hunk, and Pidge. Things quickly take a turn for the worse when Emperor Zarkon and the Galra Empire decide they are also interested and attempt to take out the Paladins. Worse, the signals themselves appear to be a trap, spreading a virus into the lions that disable their systems. This leads to the Paladins attempting to figure out where the signals originate from, why they're infecting the lion mechs, and how to stop it.
Since this is only the first episode of an episodic series, you won't be getting all the answers here. The game ends on a cliffhanger that is clearly meant to draw you back for the next episode. Still, enough is done with the story to make the episode feel complete. That said, if you're not a fan of the show you may have a tough time keeping up. Seeds of Corruption makes no effort to ease in non-fans and expects you to already know the names and details of the characters, locations, and situations featured here. Even as someone who doesn't watch the show, I didn't feel so alienated that I couldn't understand what was going on, but I do wish I had more context.
You'll spend most of the episode playing as Lance, with a brief segment as Princess Allura to break things up. Seeds of Corruption spends most of its half-hour runtime in one of two genres. You'll either solve puzzles or pilot the Blue Lion in shooting segments, and I was surprised by how much of the game was puzzles. Using each of the PlayStation Move controllers as a hand, you'll be rearranging fuses, hacking into computers, opening wormholes, and more. I found many of these puzzles to be rather fun and strike a good difficulty. None felt overwhelmingly challenging, and they were all good little brain teasers. One late-game puzzle required me to assemble blocks into specific shapes, and this made me think for a few moments and experiment to figure out a solution.
Eventually, you'll have to fly the Blue Lion around and fight off enemies. The Lion will jet along a predetermined path, always moving forward at a set speed. You'll be controlling the pitch and yaw of the Lion to avoid asteroids, mountains, and other things you don't want to run into. It takes a bit of experimentation with the Move controllers to figure out how moving each one forward and backward actually affects things. Even when I got used to it, I still never really felt fully in control of my Lion, and I wasn't a huge fan of flying around by the end.
When it comes to shooting, you simply have to look to aim your weapons. The right controller's trigger works as your regular laser, while the left controller lets you use a charge shot that breaks shields and knocks bombs back where the came from. Combat is simple, but blowing enemy spacecraft out of the air is quite satisfying. Eventually, you'll be combining both flying and shooting, having you dodge enemy attacks while blowing them out of the sky. It reminded me quite a bit of the Star Fox series, and I had a blast playing it. The end boss brings everything together and changes the mechanics yet again by allowing you to control your own flight in an arena. Similar to piloting when going in a straight line, the controls here are a bit wonky and not really easy to use.
As fun as it all is, it's hard to shake how short the episode was. As mentioned before, it clocks in at a mere 30 minutes at best, and that includes a brief chat with a friend while the game was paused. It doesn't help that the experience ends with one massive disappointment. Voltron is assembled in a cutscene and you never get to play as him. It just feels lame that the whole game leads up to this but you never actually play as Voltron, and I hope this is corrected in future installments.
On the bright side, the game was really pretty. A nice art style helped make it feel just like the TV show, and some fantastic facial animation made all of the characters extremely expressive. Better than that, the entire cast of the show reprises their roles and turns in some excellent voicework. If you've ever wanted to feel like you were in the middle of an episode of Voltron then you need to look no further than this game.
I actually came away really surprised by DreamWorks Voltron VR Chronicles' first episode. It could have been a cheap and easy cash-in, but it's clear a lot of love was put into the episode to make it both fun to play and feel like a part of Voltron's universe. Sure, it may need some work and an overhaul to its controls, and future episodes could stand to be longer, but fans of Voltron who own a VR headset should check this out. If you're not a fan, it may just make you one.
A bit on the short side and has some control issues, but the first episode of DreamWorks Voltron VR Chronicles honestly made me feel like I was in the middle of the TV show.
- Great Characters with Fantastic Acting
- Fun Shooting Segments
- Smart Puzzles
- Lovely Visuals, Impressive Facial Animation
- Extremely Short
- Wonky Controls
- Doesn't Ease Non-Fans Into Universe
- You Never Play as Voltron