Friday, February 12

Arizona Sunshine

I played on: PSVR
I paid: £20
Available on: PSVR, SteamVR, Oculus Quest VR
Notes: N/A

Arizona Sunshine is a short VR shooter lasting between 3-5 hours, but it still manages to leave an impression. 

You spend most of that time, fighting hordes of zombies across 8 levels. This is a shooter and that means no melee combat what-so-ever. This only becomes an issue when you get overwhelmed and the undead are right next to you. When this happens, you can quickly find yourself becoming lunch because you’re panicking and can’t line up that headshot. The shooting is great so this shouldn’t be too much of an issue. 

Most levels involve you finding a location, exploring and clearing the undead. Before long, you will find a locked door or something requiring a tool to progress. After looking around, killing the lurking undead and finding the necessary key you will return only to have something happen that attracts a hoard of zombies. If you’re able to survive the onslaught of ghouls then you will be able to progress to the next level. This is why the short length works well, the fantastic shooting, likeable main character and interesting writing keep things feeling fresh right up until the end. If you want more action, then you can try the hoard mode or pick up the DLC.

So, want’s the setup and story here? You play as a guy surviving on his own during your classic zombie apocalypse. Although it’s never stated how long it’s been since the end of the world it’s clear that the isolation and loneliness are starting to badly affect our protagonist. He refers to all of the zombies as Fred or Freddy. He often finds himself talking to them creating situations in his head to help him cope with his increasing loneliness. Throughout the story, he begins to lose hope of ever finding another living person. The writing and voice acting both do amazing jobs of selling the increasing desperation, anger and looming hopelessness. Despite its short length and bright sunny aesthetics, Arizona Sunshine tells a fantastic albeit simple story.

Speaking of aesthetic, let’s talk about the graphics. I would mention the sound design but it’s all pretty basic stuff besides the voice acting that’s a standout. The visuals are easily the weakest part of Arizona Sunshine. That’s not to say they're bad because they’re not. The art and level design are fantastic. To maintain a stable framerate even during the largest hoards the lighting, texture and model complexity is kept very low. If you were to remove the VR factor, then this could easily pass for a late-era PS2 or early Xbox 360 game. That being said, this is a VR game, and the VR feels fantastic. Having to physically open doors with one hand while keeping your gun ready with the other to avoid being attacked by an unseen zombie is amazing. Looking around in the dark with a flashlight, moving around corners and so on all feel great because you’re having to do it instead of pressing a button and watching a prerendered animation play out.

Arizona Sunshine isn’t going to change the world but as a short experience, it’s amazing. The character and basic plot are simple but engaging. The gameplay is simply incredible. The presentation while lacking graphically understands the strengths and weaknesses of VR and plays into them perfectly. Overall it’s not world-shattering or game-changing but it is a lot of fun and well worth your time.

Recommendation Rating: 8 out of 10.


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