A GEARVR NEWS GAME REVIEW
“Move Your Kerser to the Trash!”
This game is about flying forward … while trying not to hit anything. That’s … just about it, really. In this particular infinite runner, the more actual effort you put into trying to navigate in order to prevent death, the more you die. It seems you are punished for interacting with this game. The less you do, a minimalist approach, the more you are rewarded. This is a game that seeks to teach the gamer not to play it (while playing it), so that the best rewards come from not being involved, just coasting along ad nauseum. It teaches you that your efforts are futile and pointless. Good going Devs: for making the first non game in the history of gaming.
THE GOOD: I’m still waiting to discover what it is (the good). The textures are atrocious pixelated blobs slapped onto 4-sided boxes that tower before you with some strange kind of mental gravity that seem to make you want to crash yourself into them. You can’t avoid them no matter how hard you try. The more you try, the faster you smash into them. But only by not trying, by moving ever so slightly, by minimizing yourself, can you achieve a small sense of victory. The visuals in no way match what you imagine when looking at the images provided in the Store for this title, example following:
The awesome cyberspace mood made me want to buy this game at once! I imagined all sorts of scenarios for graphics such as these, and with VR in the mix, I was so ready to thrown down. But I found the game play worse than the graphics once inside the actual game. For one thing, your ship has no turning power, you just slam into buildings over and over again, as if the Devs were trying to humiliate their audience with how futile you are, how harsh and brutal death is. The game’s only redeeming quality, the music, stops dead in its tracks when you crash, and that just hurts me deep because I loved this score. It’s the only reason I played this title more than the 25 seconds it took me to learn what this was all about.
THE BAD: Where to begin? Those futuristic neon awesome images you see in the Oculus Home Store are obviously rigged to make it look like the game rocks. You see the incredible cyberpunk theme and think you’re getting something dark and enthralling. Then you open the game and you can almost hear the game designer laughing all the way to the bank with your 3 bucks. It’s not a lot, but if you held up enough people (like an entire Store of eager beavers), that $3 could become quite a big haul. I guess that’s why reviews such as these exist, to warn you: Let the Buyer Beware!
The Graphics? There are none to speak of. Little boxes stand in your way. Move between them by moving as little as humanly possible. Are you playing this game or just watching it go by like a dunce? Later, the boxes actually start to go … up and down. Wow.
IRIS VR’s WEBSITE: “The game play in Kerser is based around lightning-fast hand-eye coordination. The player dodges through procedurally-generated cityscapes. Difficulty and speed is increased as the player progresses further into the game. Power-up ring collectibles are generated at random locations throughout the course. These power-ups range from various point and in-game currency values, to speed boosts and slowdowns. New ships can be purchased with in-game currency via a store menu.”
It all sounds so good. But just as its rudimentary graphics blow chunks all over the gaming industry, the game play hurls all over the gamer too … for daring to try and play this at all. You can barely move left or right (with the joystick fully mashed down) to avoid the towers. You die endlessly just trying to figure out the game’s underlying premise: that by not moving at all, or only the in the smallest of increments, can you survive. The point of the game seems to be not to play it, not to be immersed, not to over react even an iota. The less you do, the further you get in this game. I learned that the hard way… so you won’t have to. To actually feel immersed, to try and fly carefully about here and there: all of it pointless. You are clearly meant to die!
Not to think too conspiratorially here, but the Devs probably have some secret server somewhere showing them every player smashing endlessly into walls. Thousands of gamers exploding incessantly as they laugh over us like gibbering goons after a good heist. And that’s literally what this is: a $3.00 heist of many innocent VR-hungry fans like me.
I want my money back, even as little as it is, because I could use those three dollars to pay for Pacman in Oculus Arcade Beta which, even as an older game, still runs circles around this carelessly slapped together joke which even Oculus allowed to be monetized.
Your spaceship is another point of contention. It’s so small, it’s like you are flying a baseball. There is no point to playing this title, you are not rewarded for any aspect of what you do. The airship hovering overhead is not actually flying, it stuck to your view, it moves forward with you so it’s always there, even though you should have passed under it a long time ago. I’m not even sure, maybe it’s not even an object, but part of the 360 image that makes up the skybox? The ship isn’t really there. I believe why they included it at all was to make the game look cool from a photographic perspective for the Home Store in order to sell more copies. Huckster-ism at work.
THE GOOD: The soundtrack is absolutely wonderful. It’s very keyboard synth, but I have always loved this kind of music. I am quite addicted to the song, and the way the game’s forward movement blends with the music to create a trance-like state. I give the music creator all the props for the only reason to like this game at all. The music provided my motivation for trying to keep playing this game. The furthest I ever got was about 3 minutes along, into a red-cone zone. Cones move up and down. The worst graphics ever, but the music is so zen. I love the music. It made this title almost worth the $3 bucks.
However, the damage caused by the graphics and game-play to my ideal of what games should be can’t be repaired just by returning my money. The bar has been lowered for all games and now I’m quite sure that every title that requires money to play it needs to be reviewed to give people a chance to realize when they are being taken for a ride (and not in the Android’s Dream super-cool kind of way).
What’s the most surprising is the brilliance and total excellence working behind the team that made Kerser, the people at Iris VR which include Blair Renaud among them. This is the lead developer for Technolust, one of the Oculus Rift’s most-cherished and long-awaited titles! This is a game that whose videos are famous on YouTube, and is among the most downloaded demos for the Oculus Rift. How a company with capable people like this could release Kerser as anything other than a free Concept to be discussed long before requiring payment is beyond my comprehension.
If you want to try a “game” that sets VR back five years and makes you the butt of some enormous cosmic joke where you smash into walls over and over again with no point to anything, then this is the title for you. If this was free, it still wouldn’t be worth it, but then at least we could have a more serious talk about it and offer our suggestions and hope it would come out better by the end of its development cycle. But to offer us a Concepts-quality game for $2.99 is just pure hucksterism. The Oculus Home Store has no standards, apparently, well: except for porn, that they made very clear they won’t do.
I don’t blame Iris VR one bit for trying to make money, that’s life. I blame the Oculus for allowing this to be monetized. This should have been sent back to the drawing board. So now I don’t want my money back, I want an apology to the games industry for staining its reputation with something that doesn’t live up to our expectations or have any decent standard level for what a monetized application should.
Oh, and the name Kerser? What’s that all about? The real name of this game should have been Futile Resistance, a play on Star Trek NG: Borg’s infamous “resistance is futile” line. Because this game punishes you for your resistance. You resist, you die. Not a nice way to treat gamers who believe real effort should be rewarded.
MY OPINION? … Move your Kerser to the trash, left-click, and DELETE.