There are many routes to go when making a VR game, and Herocade decided that going every single route at the same time was a fantastic idea. A 9-in-1 game collection, there's certainly quantity here. Infinite runners, first person shooters, horror, puzzle, Herocade has quite a bit. However, that doesn't mean it's all quality. Is there enough good here to make this collection worth grabbing, or should you stick to other VR games?
Connecting Herocade's nine games is a hub world and a strange meta-story behind it. The game takes place in the distant future where VR is a huge deal and capable of basically anything. You are Player 1, a person who has decided to delve into the past and, with the assistance of your AI guide Artemis, explore early VR games. Unfortunately, a glitch traps you in the VR game and Artemis is corrupted and needs you to help fix him while he figures out what the deal behind the glitch is. To do this you need to show your proficiency at the games by hitting minimum score thresholds in each game. I'm entirely unsure if this meta-story is actually necessary, it's honestly more obtuse than anything else, but after the opening cutscene it can mostly be ignored as you play the many games.
Of the nine games included in Herocade only one of them is actually worth playing and that's Dreadhalls. You play as a man trapped in a procedurally generated maze and your goal is to find four eyeballs to be able to escape. Your only tools in this endeavor come in the form of a map and a lantern that you need to keep fed with oil. Most doors are locked and you can slowly force their locks open, but as you wander around you can find lock picks that speed up the process. You're going to want to speed up that process once you run into enemies.
Naturally, you're not safe in the halls of Dreadhalls, with monsters littering the area just waiting to get at you. Each monster has slightly different patterns in how it hunts you. A giant dog-like creature will chase you in wide open areas but has trouble getting into those tighter corridors. A zombie-ish woman will begin a slow, deliberate, and unending march for you, but only if you spend too long looking at her. While all of these monsters can generally be avoided, it's the ever-present shadow that really freaked me out. Never attacking directly, rather just showing up in the corner of your vision or moving objects around when you're not looking, the shadow was always what truly scared me, as there was no telling when he'd decide to show up and mess with things again.
A lot of the terror in Dreadhalls comes from some excellent sound design. The way something way off in the distance makes an echo against a wall, to the horrifying scrape of a stone statue being re-positioned by the shadow and just knowing that it's behind you. All of it is well made and adds greatly to the horror. As great as the sound design is, the soundtrack feels slightly out of place. Most of it is quiet and moody to fit with the dungeon, but when a monster shows up an entire choir jumps in and begins screaming some ominous latin. It'd be cool for a fight or something, but all it did was feel out of place here. The monster is just sort of walking by, guys. You can calm down.
If you finish Dreadhalls' story mode, which should take about an hour, you can then play on randomly generated maps. Since that's basically how the story worked anyway (with a central pre-made area to tie those random maps together), it's basically just more levels. This is good since it's a way to extend the game and give you more out of it. It almost makes Herocade worth it for this one game. Almost. Unfortunately, there are eight other games included in Herocade and they're all not worth spending a dime on.
There's a pair of infinite runners, Poly Runner and 405 Road Rage. My description of Poly Runner can basically end there as it has so little content or depth in it that there's little more than "move forward while avoiding things." 405 Road Rage tries a little harder by giving you money to buy new cars and upgrades for your runs. Unfortunately, your goal in 405 Road Rage is to avoid other cars on the highway and their spawns are 100% randomized. This means it's completely possible for a group of cars to spawn in a totally impassable line, leaving your runs to be luck based rather than skill based.
There's also a pair of first person wave-based shooters in the form of Jurassic Survival and Alpha Turkey Hunt. They're both basically the exact same game: you stand in one spot and get a gun and you need to shoot enemies before they reach you. The only major difference between them is that Jurassic Survival has you awarded guns for surviving long enough, while Alpha Turkey Hunt lets you earn money for kills that you can use to buy more guns. If you have to play one of them, I'd suggest avoiding Jurassic Survival a little harder. The night environment and poor placement of foliage make it far more difficult to see enemies until they're right on top of you. That said, both are only notable for how boring they are and I wouldn't suggest playing either.
The other four games rounding out the package are all from different genres. Puzzle fans get Gumi no Yume, a super simplistic puzzle game where all you need to do is push around gummy shapes to be on floor panels of the same color in a limited amount of steps. It's about 30 levels of this, none of which change it up or introduce new ideas. There's also Space-Bit Attack for classic arcade game fans. If you took Space Invaders and turned it into a first-person game then you should have a good idea of what Space-Bit Attack is. It also is just as simple as Space Invaders, with the game containing little more than being able to shoot at an oncoming alien hoard until you die.
To keep up with the idea of "other game but in VR now", Z-Strike plays just like any AC-130 segment in basically every modern military shooter on the market. You fly around in a drone armed with three guns: the one-shot big one, the five-shot middle one, and the machine gun small one. Each of these guns behaves exactly as you expect them to, and before long you'll be mowing down waves of zombies that can't fight back or do anything interesting. As you kill them you can upgrade your guns too. At one point I nearly fell asleep while playing, which for a VR game is seriously impressive for all the wrong reasons. The final game in the package is Sisters, but calling it a game is a bit of a stretch. It's more of a five-minute movie with a quick jump scare at the end.
More than anything else, I feel sorry for Dreadhalls. It is, frankly, too good to be stuck in Herocade. Of all nine games, only Dreadhalls is worth playing and even remotely fun. Many of the others are the type of super short VR projects that most companies have already grown out of, and it turns out slapping a bunch of them together doesn't make them any better. This is the ultimate case of why quality always beats quantity.
Herocade was reviewed on PlayStation VR using a copy purchased by the reviewer. Individual games are available on other VR platforms.
Heocade is composed of 9 games, and of those 8 of them are terrible. Only Dreadhalls is worth playing, but maybe it's better to wait and see if it gets a cheaper individual release than being stuck in this horrid collection.(Review Policy)
- Dreadhalls is Fantastic
- The FPS Games are Similar, Boring
- Most of the Games Suffer From Lack of Depth
- Both Infinite Runners are Not Much Fun
- Sisters Fails as an Experience, Too Short
- Connecting Story is Silly, Pointless