It's time for my VR first-person shooter fix again. It's the genre that seems to make the most sense in VR, after all. There's something about shooting people in VR that is just fun. I've been keeping an eye on Immortal Legacy: The Jade Cipher for quite a while now. Originally known as Kill X, and one of the games involved in Sony's China Hero Project, it always seemed like an interesting game. Was it a cipher worth solving, or is the only legacy here a letdown?
You play as Tyre, a special forces agent who's mom had some kind of supernatural secret, but recently died in a bombing. Wanting to learn more about her life and death, he takes an assignment that takes him to Yingzhou Island, where apparently dragons live. Along the way, he meets an overly cheery streamer named Cherry Pie and a woman who leads a group of mercenaries digging around to find some sort of artifact. An interesting set-up doesn't really go far, as the story seems to drop out of the game after the first couple of hours. It doesn't help either that it doesn't really feel finished, with the game ending on an awkward cliffhanger without any major plot strings being finished. Tyre even literally says "I left with more questions than answers" as the final line of the game.
Wrestling With Immortal Legacy: The Jade Cipher
Before you can fight any enemies, you have to fight Immortal Legacy's controls. You can only play the game with a pair of Move controllers, which is already kind of tough because movement with them isn't great. Turning is awkward, as the button it's mapped to is too hard to reach while also moving forward. It also doesn't help that, even when running as fast as possible, Tyre moves at the pace of a snail. It feels like it takes way too long to get anywhere, especially since I spent a lot of that time bumping into objects and slowly turning away from them. There's a simple inventory system as well, yet you can only scroll through items one at a time and at several points, I was forced to keep key items taking space in my inventory despite them not having any use for hours.
The first two or so hours of Immortal Legacy is perhaps best compared to the Uncharted series. You'll have firefights against mercenaries on a mysterious island while looking for treasure. The first few encounters really don't sell the game. Enemies can take six or more shots to die if you don't hit their heads, and there's not enough ammo for anyone besides the most accurate sharpshooters. Thankfully, once I found the first assault rifle, things began to click into place. Ammo became more plentiful, enemies no longer took obscene amounts of hits to kill, and I began having fun. It's not perfect, though. Occasionally, enemies with insane amounts of armor would show up and eat bullets like they're candy on Easter, but I never felt it was unfair or too annoying.
Immortal Legacy Kicks It Into High Gear
Immortal Legacy keeps going until you hit a rather impressive turret segment where you fight off giant worms. At this moment Immortal Legacy really clicked, hitting a high that I'd been waiting for. Finally, I was in a dramatic fight with a cool weapon. I had a blast shooting flying objects out of the air and hurting the worm before it could hit me. Then, with that done, Immortal Legacy falls down a pit. Literally. Tyre falls into caves and the entire game ditches the action-adventure feel of the Uncharted games and instead replaces it with the slower paced action-horror you'd see in the Resident Evil series.
Instead of gunning down mercenaries you'll be conserving ammo against strange zombie-like enemies. As far as a change in style goes, it actually is pretty neat. The dark caves mean you'll often be relying on a flashlight for light sources, and the enemies don't feel nearly as bullet spongy as the first segment. Not that there aren't threats. You'll spend a good chunk of time stalked by a mysterious humanoid man made of flies and impossible to kill. It's always creepy when he shows up, as it means you often have to solve simple environmental puzzles while avoiding his attacks. It's a neat idea, even if the control system isn't really up to par for the style of "dodge and puzzle" gameplay featured here.
Solving the Mysteries of Immortal Legacy
Sadly, while the moment to moment gameplay of this change is fun, there are some specific moments that just fail. Most notably are the boss fights. Many of the late game bosses do not make it clear when you're hurting them. For example, one fight sees you pit against a trio of snake-like creatures in a slowly flooding room. The idea is that you need to shoot their mouths as they bite you. This only plays the stagger animation about half of the time. I was never sure if this was actually damaging the snakes or not, and being on a time limit wasn't making the fight any better. After several deaths, I finally won the fight, and I'm still not sure what I did differently. Other fights see similar issues, usually making it really hard to tell if you're doing damage to enemies or not.
When you're not fighting enemies you solve some simple puzzles. One has you turning a cube around so that a lit segment always matches up. Another has you pulling chains so you can try to align symbols on platforms. Often you'll find locked boxes that open after you solve a tiny maze with tilting controls. There's nothing wrong with any of these puzzles. However, none of them really stand out as unique, memorable, or even that much fun.
Immortal Legacy: The Jade Cipher Review | Final Thoughts
Puzzle or not, the game always looked surprisingly good. It's safe to say that, while it may not be the most stylistic or best-looking game, Immortal Legacy still manages to look fantastic. At least, with the exception of facial animations, most of which just look stiff and unemotive. There's a fantastic soundtrack, kicking in with epic choirs for boss fights. On the flip side, it also knows when to keep it quiet and spooky. Sadly, the voice acting doesn't quite have the same charm. The main character, voiced by Doug Cockle, sounds like the most generic gruff military man to ever exist. Everyone else mostly just sounds confused or bored.
If Resident Evil 7: Biohazard wasn't already "Resident Evil in VR", then I would say Immortal Legacy: The Jade Cipher is the closest we've gotten yet. However, due to clunky controls, I'd say it leans a little more classic Resident Evil. Maybe with a dash of Uncharted, but certainly nothing close to what we have now. It's not going to be a game for everyone, and it certainly may take a little to like it. Give Immortal Legacy some times, and you may just discover one of VR's weird hidden gems.
TechRaptor reviewed Immortal Legacy: The Jade Cipher on PlayStation VR using a copy provided by the publisher.
- Fun Gunplay
- Great Bosses During First Half
- Quite a few Scary Moments
- Fantastic Soundtrack
- Iffy Plot
- Clunky Controls
- Second Half Bosses are Pretty Terrible
- Bad Voice Acting